Edward Sprague Rand.

Orchids; a description of the species and varieties grown at Glen Ridge, near Boston, with lists and descriptions of other desirable kinds : preface by chapters on the culture, propagation, collection, and hybridization of orchids; the online

. (page 3 of 25)
Online LibraryEdward Sprague RandOrchids; a description of the species and varieties grown at Glen Ridge, near Boston, with lists and descriptions of other desirable kinds : preface by chapters on the culture, propagation, collection, and hybridization of orchids; the → online text (page 3 of 25)
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New Holland.

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America (except Neottea, which is plentifully distributed
through both) and are abundant in Europe, North Amer-
ica, and even have twenty-eight representatives from
Ophrecz in Siberia, which class also gives one hundred
and thirty-five species to South Africa ; the tribe Are-
thusece is very largely represented in New Holland, there
being no less than one hundred and fifteen species.

It must, however, be stated that this tabular view of
Dr. Lindley is by no means complete ; the number of
species has largely increased, especially in the three
tribes Malaxecz, Epidendrece, and Vandecz. We give it as
the best that has yet been presented.




AS much depends upon the care used in the collection
of Orchids, and as the most healthy plants may be
ruined by careless packing and transportation, a chapter
on these subjects may not be out of place. It is easy to
collect Orchids which grow on the ground or on the lower
branches of trees. Those in healthy and vigorous con-
dition should be selected, as offering the greatest chances
of exportation in a living state. All, which by their foliage
appear to be of different species, should be collected, for
unless the plants are in bloom no judgment can be formed
of what the flower will be, and the foliage is no criterion
of excellence, many Orchids with insignificant foliage pro-
ducing the most gorgeous flowers.

It is not easy to collect Orchids which grow upon the
lofty trees, where their presence is only known by the
brilliancy of the flowers, or their powerful perfume. To
climb them, is almost impossible, on account of the height,
and not unattended with danger because of the poisonous
snakes which frequently lurk in the crotches of the
branches, or hide in the hollows of the trunk.

The only means of getting them is to cut down the
tree, which is by no means an easy task ; the wood is like
iron, and turns the edge of the best tempered axe ; this,
together with the immensity of the tree, presents almost
insuperable obstacles to collectors. When, however, the


tree has once fallen, the fall dislodges the reptiles which
may have harbored there, and the plants can then be
collected without danger. The collection, however, calls
for care and precaution ; if the branches on which the
plants are should be broken or rotten, the mass of the
plant should be detached, breaking or bruising the roots
as little as possible. If the branch is sound, it may be
cut on each side of the plant, taking care to leave suf-
cient wood for its growth on its arrival. It is noticeable
that plants, which in our stoves are still grown on the
same branch on which they naturally grew, are more
vigorous, flower oftener, and give stronger spikes of
bloom, and better flowers, than those which have been
changed. Where the plants grow on branches too large
and heavy for removal, the bark, with the plant attached,
may be removed, or a portion of the branch sawed off.

The roots of the plant should, in every case, be pre-
served as far as possible, and should not be detached
from the bark or wood. The mosses and other little
plants which grow with the Orchids should in no case be
removed from them ; they help to keep the plants in
good condition during the voyage of importation, and are
in themselves often valuable additions to our stove plants :
in this way many interesting Begonias, Ferns, and Brome-
lias have been imported.

It is important that collectors should use all possible
discrimination in the selection of plants, and as far as
possible ascertain the character of the flower, though, as
we have said, none should be discarded because the
flower is unknown. The species most desirable for our
hot-houses are those with brilliant flowers, but many with
insignificant bloom may be most interesting to the botan-


1st; these should be preserved in herbaria, and notes
taken of their peculiarities of growth and location, in
order, as far as possible, to aid in their classification.
The points which should be especially observed are the
size and the form of the flower, the color of the perianth
and labellum, the number of flowers, the height of the
flower stalk, the point from which it springs, whether the
base, the middle, or the top of the pseudo-bulbs, the
form and disposition of the leaves, the shape of the bulbs
and their markings, and finally, any other peculiarity which
may attract attention.

The woods or places where the plants occur should be
noted, whether more or less shady, warm or cool, the
temperature by day and night, and whether wet or dry.
All this information is valuable to those who receive the
plants, as thereby they are enabled to adapt their culture
to the requirements of the plant.

A collection once made should be forwarded as soon
as possible. There are many modes of packing, of which
the most simple is to envelop the plants in moss, pack-
ing them tight in a basket. This method, however, has
but little chance of success, only the hardier Orchids sur-
viving the voyage, most plants dying from want of mois-

They are often sent in wooden boxes, instead of bas-
kets, with a few holes bored for air ; these retain moisture
longer than the baskets, and about a fourth of the plants
survive. Importations made in close wooden cases, the
seams of which have been tarred, arrive safely, if the
passage, is not very long. Where the plants have been
carefully packed, wrapped in moss, the decayed and in-
jured bulbs removed, and the plants placed on openwork


of bars running across the case, the results have been
most satisfactory.

Where moss cannot be procured, it is better to use
shavings than either hay or straw ; if the plants should
start into growth during the voyage, the young 'roots
would attach themselves to the shavings. The best way,
however, to import Orchids, is in glass cases.

The larger plants are placed on the bottom of the case,
and are held firmly by brass wire, nails are driven into
the sides of the frame and the span roof, to which plants
are suspended : all nails and wire should be of brass or
copper, as iron rusts. Care must be taken that the plants
do not rub against each other, which is easily prevented
by securing each one with wire.

These cases must be made perfectly air-tight ; all joints
should be hermetically sealed. On arrival, care should
be taken to not expose the plants too suddenly to the
external air. There are many Orchids of very small size
and delicate growth, such, for instance, as Cortiparcttia,
Sophronitis, Burlingtonia. These should be sewed in a
mat, and lightly covered with moss. The mat, so dis-
posed as to bring the layers of plants one above the
other, is placed in a glass case, and it is seldom the plants
do not arrive in good condition.

When very large masses of bulbs are to be sent, it is
better to pack them in a basket, fixing them in position
with bars of wood, tying the pseudo-bulbs strongly to-
gether, packing moss between to prevent them from
touching each other.

The moss used should always be dry ; if green or wet
it causes the plants to rot, and almost always destroys

4 6


Before packing the plants, they should be carefully ex-
amined j it is necessary to remove all decaying or injured
bulbs, and also to dislodge any insects that may lurk
among the plants, and which would during the voyage
live' upon the new roots and young shoots ; this precau-
tion is too often neglected.

Orchids should not be packed until the time for em-
barking them ; their stay in the cases is a period of forced
repose, and should be made as short as possible. The
cases should be placed in a light and convenient place so
they can be removed on arrival without delay.

The insects most injurious to Orchids during the voy-
age are cockroaches, which swarm in every ship ; one ben-
efit derived from hermetically sealed cases is the perfect
safety from these insects, and the exclusion of the salt air,
which seems fatal to Orchids.




AS soon as the plants are unpacked from the cases,
they should be placed in a shady part of the Orchid
house ; not at once in great heat, but where the tempera-
ture is moderately warm and where they will not be ex-
posed to draughts of air, for having been so long confined
in close cases, any immediate exposure to atmospheric
changes would prove injurious. It is a good plan to
cover them with an awning, in order to guard against too
much light.

It is not best to unpack the cases in the Orchid house,
for almost always cockroaches will have found their way
into the cases, and these once domesticated in an Orchid
house are with difficulty extirpated. Every portion of
the plants should be carefully sponged to remove scale,
with which Orchids are much infected. All withered,
decayed, and dead roots and pseudo-bulbs should be
removed with a sharp knife. Where large plants are
received, they are often incumbered with masses of long,
tangled roots ; these should be carefully disentangled by
hand and the dead portions removed, care being taken
not to bruise the living parts or the young spongioles
which often shoot out from old roots.

Care must also be taken not to injure the eyes, which
may have developed at the base of the last year's bulbs,
or to bruise any tender foliage.


The living roots of Orchids are green within ; as soon
as they die they become soft, and the thread (so to speak)
running through the middle grows hard and woody thus
it is easy to tell what portions should be removed. Any
roots entirely dead should be cut off close to the base of
the pseudo-bulbs.

Where the plants are very large, they may often be
divided to advantage, but it is not best to attempt this be-
fore they show signs of growth. Should the plants, how-
ever, be so large as to be unmanageable and the future
eyes be developed, it may be well to divide into as many
plants as there are eyes. This, however, will be seldom
done by the amateur, for it is his object to have large and
fine specimens, but must be resorted to by florists who
wish a stock for sale. The plants obtained from florists
are generally so small that a growth of a dozen years is
necessary to make a specimen, and the flower of a small
plant gives but little idea of the magnificent effect pro-
duced by a specimen.

It not unfrequently happens that the upper part of a
pseudo-bulb is decayed while the lower is sound and
has healthy eyes at the base. In this case the diseased
portions may be cut away without injury to the plant, and
frequently the shoots developed from a plant thus treated
are stronger and more healthy than those from sound

It is not necessary that the pseudo-bulbs should have
leaves ; these are frequently lost in importation, and if
the bulb is ripe, the health of the plant or its power to
produce eyes are not visibly affected ; all bulbs, however,
which are alive and sound should be preserved, as they
are most necessary to the plant.


In separating large masses of bulbs, three or four
pseudo-bulbs at least should be given to each new plant,
the newest of which will always have the eye for the new
growth. These old bulbs are necessary for the nourish-
ment of the new growth, and from them we may often
cause eyes to break forth and thus form a fine specimen.

Even if a pseudo-bulb appears dead, and if the roots
are all gone, if it is at all green and without decay, it
should not be cast aside, for it may produce eyes under
careful treatment.

With such plants as Epidendrums, Lelias, and Cattleyas,
the top of the bulb is often dead, but the bottom fresh
and in good health. If after removing the dead or de-
cayed portions we can save even a small part of the bulb,
we need not despair of the formation of a new plant.

Some Orchids, as Huntleya for example, have no pseu-
do-bulbs ; if the leaves of such have fallen off during the
voyage, the crown with living roots attached must be
carefully preserved ; even if it appears dead it will gen-
erally produce a new shoot.

Sometimes we receive large masses of plants with large
pseudo-bulbs, such as Onddium, Zygopetalum, Peristeria,
and Odontoglossum, where the whole lower part of the
bulbs is decayed ; in such cases all the rotten or diseased
portions should be cut away and the plants placed in the
Orchid house either on a shelf or potted. Smaller bulbs
will not unfrequently form on the top of the old bulbs,
throw out roots, and derive nourishment from the rest of
the bulb, and in time make good plants.

When the plants are thus all clean, they should be laid
in dry moss or sand in a rather cool and dry part of the
house and shaded as we have said. The moss or sand


should be gradually moistened, and when the plants be-
gin to grow and make roots, they should be potted or put
on blocks or in baskets ; but care must be taken not to
have the pots too large, as over-potting is dangerous.

As soon as they begin to grow those which come from
the hotter parts of India should be put at the warmest
end of the house ; but they should not have too much
moisture at first. Those which come from more temper-
ate regions should be kept at the coolest part of the
house, care being taken not to allow any drip to fall upon
them, which frequently rots the young shoots as soon as
they appear.

Such plants as Vandas, Saccolabiums, Aerides, Angrcecums,
Phalanopses, should be fastened on blocks as soon as
they are received, and so placed that the plants hang
downward in order that no water may lodge about them
till they begin to grow and form new roots.

In fine, the treatment is to keep the plants without
excitement until they show signs of growth, then to stim-
ulate gently until the growth is developing, then pot and
treat as old established plants.



THE construction of the house is a most important
part of Orchid culture. The first conditions to be
secured for the health and growth of the plants are a
moist and warm atmosphere, and the house must be built
with a special view to this end.

We often see collections of Orchids in greenhouses,
where all the requisites for their growth are wanting,
crowded with greenhouse plants, drenched at one time
with water and then again allowed to dry up, subjected to
cold draughts of air and exposed to a burning sun. Is
it a wonder they never thrive? that year by year they
dwindle and die till at last only a few of the hardiest spe-
cies such as Ontidiums, Stanhopeas, and Peristerias survive,
and these weak and sickly ; and if they bloom at all they
throw up such weak spikes of bloom that the owner in
despair throws away the whole collection. The failure is
not surprising ; Orchids cannot be grown successfully
with other plants, though in an Orchid house many of
the beautiful variegated leaved plants, which like Orchids
require a moist heat, may be grown with perfect success,
and a collection of hot-house ferns adds to the Orchid
house the foliage Orchids often want.

Orchids must then have a house to themselves. This
need not, however, be a separate building ; a portion of
the greenhouse divided off by a glass partition in which


the requisite heat can be obtained, will answer perfectly
well for most Orchids, and the plants may be rested in
the greenhouse.

To grow Orchids with perfect success and where there
is a large collection, we need three separate houses or
apartments, the Stove or East Indian House, the Inter-
mediate or Mexican House, and the Resting House.

The best aspect for an Orchid house is north and
south, that is, if span-roofed, the house should run east
and west ; if the house is " lean-to " let it face the south-

There has been much difference of opinion in regard
to the adaptation of lean-to houses to Orchids. In Eng-
land and the continent all the most successful growers
use span-roofed houses, and we have no hesitation in
pronouncing them better adapted to the growth of the
plants. The one argument in favor of lean-to houses
which is of any weight is, that they are more easily kept
at the necessary temperature, which in our cold winters
it is difficult to preserve. If however, we make our
houses low, and an Orchid house should be only about
thirteen feet high, a span-roofed house is easily heated.

A small house may be from thirty to fifty feet in length
by twelve feet wide (or if span-roofed double this width).
It should be built like a pit, the floor of the house being
about three feet below the level of the ground. The walls
should be brick or stone as high as the ground surface ;
on this a heavy frame should be laid, and then sashes
with heavy uprights reach to the frame supporting the
roof; the whole height from the ground inside to the
slope of the roof should be about six feet. The whole of
the front wall is often built of brick, which possesses


many advantages, the only objection being the obstruc-
tion of light. The pitch of the roof should be 30 to 33,
The glazing should be close, the larger the plates the
better, but they should not be above a foot in width. The
northerly end should always be of brick work as being
warmer and affording a convenient place for the growth
of climbing ferns and small Orchids. The southerly end
should be glazed with smaller glass than the roof, say
twelve to fifteen inches long by eight or twelve wide.
In a lean-to house the back wall should be of brick, as
being more durable, but wood may be used.

A table about a foot wide should extend along the
front of the house. The pathway should be two or three
feet wide, along the side of the house, if a lean-to ; if a
span-roof, it may be through the centre, with broad tables
on each side, or, as we consider the best and most effec-
tive arrangement, a wide table may run all around the
house, and the walk may be all round a wide central
table. The side tables may be about three feet high ; the
centre should be a little lower if intended for large plants.
Arrangements should be made for a large tank in the
centre of the central table.

In the Orchid house at Glen Ridge, the shelves are of
galvanized iron wire netting strained to angle irons and
supported by iron standards fixed in the cement of the
floor ; these shelves are over the hot-water pipes, and are
covered with sphagnum moss, on which the pots are
placed. The moss is kept moist and thus a gentle warm
moisture is always rising round the plants. Close to the
glass, shelves of heavy plate glass are fitted, which afford
an admirable place for small Orchids or small pots. The
central table is of gray stone brick with marble capping,


and contains three tanks, the water of which is kept at
different temperatures by hot water pipes. In these
tanks the blue and red water-lilies (Nympkcea ccerulea
and Devoniana) grow and bloom profusely. The ends
of the house are of coarse brick, wire netted ; the space
between the brick and the wire is filled with sphagnum in
which ferns, Pothos, ^Eschynanthus, Ctssus, and Vanilla
grow luxuriantly ; so the whole forms a wall of graceful
green. In the whole house there is nothing that can de-
cay from moisture : all is brick, iron, glass, or cement.

Ventilation should be afforded by openings in the front
wall and sliding sashes in the roof ; but care should al-
ways be taken to allow the air to pass over a heated sur-
face before coming in contact with the plants. If we do
not wish to paint or wash the glass, it will be necessary to
provide a canvas awning so arranged as to be spread
and removed at pleasure. It is also well in our more
northern States to have wooden shutters fitted to the out-
side of the roof for the protection of the plants in cold
winter nights.

A potting room should be provided connected with the
house and heated in order that the plants when removed
to it may not be chilled.

A larger house may be built on the same plan, only
taking care not to increase the height. Orchids never do
well in a high house. The interior arrangements may
vary considerably according to the taste or fancy of the

The material used for greenhouses is usually wood,
but where it can conveniently be obtained, iron is far bet-
ter. A house made of brick, iron, and glass would last an
indefinite time and beyond an occasional coat of paint


and the replacing any broken glass would need no re-
pairs. The constant moisture of an Orchid house rots
wood-work very quickly, and a wooden house always af-
fords many safe lurking-places for noisome insects. The
only advantage of a wooden house is that the moisture
condenses less rapidly.

Where the rafters are all made of iron, the condensa-
tion is very great, and the continual dropping may injure
the plants ; but by making a small groove in each sash bar
to allow the water to run down to the bottom of the bar,
where a small zinc gutter may be provided to receive it,
this objection is removed. Even in a wooden house it is
a good plan to channel the sash bars and provide in the
same manner for carrying off the water.

Unless we design to have a number of houses for Or-
chid culture, it is best to divide the house in the middle
by a glass partition ; this will give us two houses, one for
Orchids which come from the warmer parts of India, near
the heating apparatus, and the other for those which
come from cooler climates and which require less heat
and moisture.


The tables around the sides of the house are for the
smaller pots. A slight trellis-work fastened to any back
or side wall is useful for such plants as Vanilla and Ren-
anthera ; it should be set out a few inches from the wall,
in order that the roots of the plants may not be chilled by
a cold surface.

In the arrangement of plants care should be taken to
place the largest and tallest growers in the centre of the
table, and to grade down the plants to the sides, as thus


a symmetrical effect is produced. Some growers prefer
stages or shelves, but the arrangement on tables seems
preferable to all others.

The tables are often made hollow and filled in with
moss or sand, through which a heating pipe passes, thus
giving a gentle bottom heat ; the plants are either placed
on the moss or the pots plunged in it. Some plants
grow most luxuriantly under this treatment. Of course it
is necessary to keep the moss constantly wet.

The tables should be of brick or slate laid on cement,
or, as we prefer, of galvanized wire as in the house at
Glen Ridge. Cisterns for water should be provided,
supplied with rain-water from the roof of the house ;
these should be warmed by the heating pipes being
carried under them. A good place for these cisterns is
all along the sides of the house ; then the pipes can run
under them the whole length, and a shelf for plants may
be placed on top of them. The best material for table is
slate or wire ; the best for floors is soft flagging which
will hold moisture, or cement.

All tables should be so arranged as to hold water or
wet moss ; the pots should be placed on pebbles or moss,
in the water during summer, but in winter the shelves
should be dry.

Plants in baskets or hanging pots should be suspended
to the rafters over the walks, as thus no drip comes upon
plants below. The accompanying plate represents a very
neat and convenient contrivance for suspending these
plants. It should be made of iron, galvanized, and is
so arranged that the plant may be turned round without

Online LibraryEdward Sprague RandOrchids; a description of the species and varieties grown at Glen Ridge, near Boston, with lists and descriptions of other desirable kinds : preface by chapters on the culture, propagation, collection, and hybridization of orchids; the → online text (page 3 of 25)