Reply to: Stanhopeas on a Stick?
The most valuable lesson is not to keep all your epiphytes on the same tree. In other words, don't keep all your eggs in the same basket. When possible...hedge your bets by dividing your orchids and placing the divisions in a range of hopefully suitable conditions. Usually 3 pseudobulbs is the standard division size for orchids. Many orchids can be grown from just a single pseudobulb...but it will take a while for it to reach blooming size. I think Stanhopeas might be somewhat more difficult with single pseudobulbs.
Another lesson I've learned is that cork is excellent for wine bottles for the same reason it is horrible for mounted orchids...it retains absolutely no moisture. You can submerge it in water for a day and it won't weigh any more than before you submerged it. It's a popular mounting choice though because moisture retention isn't an issue in humid greenhouses. Plus it's very light, it doesn't break down...and it's relatively easy to cut.
Most fruit trees can work for mounts but lately wooden pallets are my mount of choice. There's an electrical supply store near where I live and they regularly have broken wooden pallets by their dumpster. After hours I just back my truck in, quickly throw the pallet in the bed and speed away like I stole the thing. I think I've got 3 or 4 pallets in my backyard right now. They should hopefully provide enough mounts for springtime dividing. The wood might be chemically treated but all my orchids have attached to the mounts no problem.
Ok, regarding Stanhopeas...of the half dozen or so species I've tried...Stanhopea jenischiana is by far the best grower. My sample size hasn't been large enough to say for sure why this is though. Maybe I just ended up with an exceptional clone...but they've all done really well. One division was mounted on a horizontal Avocado branch that I brought from my previous house. Another was attached to a tree fern plaque. That division seemed to do the best.
Last year my Avocado branch started breaking down so I divided the jenischiana and attached one of the divisions on my Cedar tree where it's doubled in size...
Here's the larger sized version of the photo
Jenischiana is really starting to crowd the Encyclia cochleata! Hahaha. They are having a shoving match and the Stanhopea is winning. That's ok because the Encyclia cochleata, which is about to bloom, can run away...I think. Also seen in the picture is Oncidium maculatum...which is also about to bloom. All three orchids are quite fragrant...so I kinda messed up placing them so high up in the tree.
These three orchids are on the "shady" side of the tree. As you can tell from the color of the leaves it's not really that shaded. Lots of direct late morning sun. Maybe somewhat filtered.
Water wise...during the coldest days...first thing in the morning once every 10 days and during the hottest days...every night. Stanhopeas will definitely appreciate a good couple handfuls of quality New Zealand Spaghnum when you mount them.
When I mount orchids I use 10lb to 40lb fishing line depending on the size of the orchid (perhaps 20lb for a Stanhopea). The trick is ensuring that the orchid is attached to the mount as tightly as possible. First I cut an appropriate sized length of fishing line. Then I tie a slip knot loop on one end. I wrap the fishing line around the orchid and its mount, go through the loop and cinch the fishing line tightly. Next I tightly wrap the fishing line around the orchid/mount 3 or 4 more times. Lastly is the hardest part that none of my friends have really managed to master! I use the "leftover" line from the first knot to create a slipknot which allows me to cinch down and tie off the rest of the fishing line without losing any tension. Without this slipknot it's extremely difficult to tie off the finishing line without losing some tension.
If the orchid has any room to shift when it gets hit from water from the hose or a strong gust of wind...then the new roots won't be able to attach and the orchid will start to gradually decline. Same thing happens when snails/slugs eat off all the new root tips. The lower an orchid is on a tree...the more accessible it is to slugs/snails.
In my conditions, and with perfect drainage, I've never had any problem with rotting Stanhopeas...even when I've carelessly placed medium on top of them! CAM orchids are a different story so I use absolutely no moss when I mount them.
If you haven't already seen them...check out the groups for orchid enthusiasts in Southern California...
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You're certainly welcome to come over for a tour!