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 4 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 4 of 25)
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removing it from the rafter.

A very pretty effect may be produced in an Orchid


house by entirely dispensing with shelves, staging, and
tables, and fixing in the ground large branch-
ing trunks of trees with the bark on. The
Orchids are fastened to these, nestle on the
forks, climbing ferns and tropical plants are
twined round the trunk, and terrestrial plants
may be made to grow in the hollows of the
trunk, and thus the interior of the house may
resemble a tropical forest. The plants suc-
ceed perfectly under this treatment, and the
effect produced is charming.

This mode of culture, however, requires great
care, as the plants are thus more exposed to
the attacks of insects and being fixed in posi-
tion cannot, at the resting season, be removed
to the cooler house.

However the plants are arranged they should
not be allowed to touch or rub each other;
there is nothing gained by crowding, but both
the health of the plant and the general effect
may be destroyed. It is better to grow a dozen plants
well than a hundred poorly, and free light and air are
essential to the health of Orchids.


There is nothing better for heating an Orchid house
than hot water. The heat thus obtained is more equal,
moister, and less exposes the plants to a change of tem-
perature, than either steam or hot air. In these two latter
methods the pipes lose their heat as soon as the fire goes
out, while in the former, the heat is retained for several
hours. A proper regulation of the heat is one of the req-
uisites for the successful cultivation of Orchids.


During the winter season, the greater proportion of the
plants are at rest ; it is not therefore necessary to main-
tain a high .temperature. When the sun is in position
to warm the houses, the heat should be slackened in the
pipes, but should be again turned on just before the sun
leaves the houses.

It is well to begin to put fires in the Orchid houses
about the middle of September, for then the nights are
cold ; but at this time also the supply of moisture should
be reduced. In summer fire is only needed during long,
cold storms. During the winter months, until the end of
February, the heat should be rather dry than moist, and
never excessive.

It is advantageous to have open water pans or basins,
through which hot-water pipes pass, which give out vapor,
which is beneficial to the plants. The water in these
pans should be frequently renewed, as thus a pure, clean
atmospheric moisture is preserved. Pipes are now made
with these basins on top.

In heating with hot water, three rows of four-inch pipe
should run round the house, and two round each centre
table inside of the brick work on which the table rests, or
the pipes may run through water cisterns which will
always give a moist heat, and in cold weather or the rest-
ing season the water can be drawn from the tanks and a
dry heat obtained. Small ventilators, made to open and
shut, should be inserted into the brick work of the tables
on each side, so as to allow heat and moisture to pass into
the house when required. There should be means pro-
vided for going under all the tables by means of little
doors in order to examine the^ pipes if at any time they
are out of order.


A brick flue may be used for heating, with pans placed
on the top for the evaporation of water, but care must
be taken to prevent any escape of smoke or gas into the


A careful system of ventilation is of great importance.
Let us bestow every care upon Orchids, all will be in
vain if we allow cold air to pass among them : the plants
will not thrive. Ventilators should therefore be provided
near the ground in the front wall close to the heating
pipes so that the air may be warmed as it enters the
house ; they may also be constructed in the brick- work at
the north and south ends. These ventilating spaces may
be closed by wooden shutters or by sliding slates ; they
should be two feet long and one foot wide, and should be
left every twenty feet ; if the house is span-roofed they
should be on each side,

If the top lights are made to slide or rise, any ventila-
tion desired may be easily afforded ; but if not, ventilators
should be placed in the ends of the house near the roof,
which is a far better arrangement, but even with sliding
sashes the ventilators on the front must not be dispensed
with. As a general rule the air of the Orchid house
should be changed once a day ; this is best done by ven-
tilating into other houses ; therefore it is a good plan to
have the Orchid house a central house. The temperature
should be about 50 in the coldest weather ; if allowed to
fall much lower the plants will be chilled. During the
season of rest, which with most Orchids is from November
to February, the temperature should not be much higher.
This season of rest is essential to the production of a


strong growth and fine flower. If the same heat is
always maintained and constant moisture afforded, the
plants will continue growing, or will produce weak second
growths and either fail to flower or else produce weak
and few blossoms.

A most ready way to secure this rest is to remove the
East Indian Orchids to the cooler or Mexican house
during their resting season, that is, after they have per-
fected their growth, and again to remove the Mexican
Orchids to the greenhouse during their resting season.

There are some East Indian Orchids, such as Phal&n-
opses, Aerides, and Vandas, which grow perpetually ; these
should always be kept in the hottest house, but the heat
should be somewhat reduced lest the plants be forced
into too active growth or bloom, as these plants often kill
themselves by over-flowering.

The temperature thus must vary greatly at the different
seasons of the year and at different times in the course
of the twenty-four hours.

In this matter of temperature, the importance of " live "
air cannot be too strongly impressed upon the Orchid-
ist. A close, dead air is fatal to the health of many
plants. Be the temperature what it may, the air should
have a freshness and vitality. We know Orchid houses
that resemble a vapor bath, and in this temperature some
plants thrive, but it is unendurable to human lungs, and
there is no satisfaction in visiting such a house. The
plants do not need it, many die in it, and all will thrive
better, make sturdier growth, and give more satisfaction,
in a lower and fresher temperature.

In the Glen Ridge East Indian house, one can spend
hours in examining the plants without inconvenience



from moist dead air, and the growth of such plants as
Vandas, Saccolabiums, Aerides, and Phalcenopses, is strong
and vigorous, the foliage deep dark green, and the flower
far finer and more enduring than upon plants grown
upon the steam bath principle.

The following table may be useful :



Day -with

Day with-
out Sun.







85 to 90












Summer . ....





Autumn . . . .

Winter . .



ORCHIDS, like all other plants, have seasons of
growth, flowering, and rest.

In Orchid culture, great care should be given to make
the plants observe these seasons ; in their native coun-
tries the change is produced by wet and dry seasons ; but
if in our Orchid houses we keep the same degree of heat
and moisture, the plants will continue to grow, and at all
seasons will put forth shoots and flowers. The result
will be, the exhaustion of the plant, which will give
weaker shoots and poorer flowers, and finally none at

At the close of the resting season, the time for
growth will always be indicated by the pushing forth of
the new shoots, or the development of eyes. It is then
we must begin watering, and must increase the moisture
according to the growth. This is the season to remove
plants from the resting house to the stove.

The season which naturally follows that of growth,
is that of flowering, but we see certain plants, particu-
larly those of the Vanda tribe, send forth their flower-
stalks at the time of the formation of the new bulbs.
This is the case with Ontidiums, Miltonias, Odontoglos-
sums, Burlingtonias, and others. The increase in the
quantity of moisture afforded should always be gradual.

When the pseudo-bulbs and foliage have reached their


full development is with most plants the flowering sea-
son, and usually after the flowers fade comes the season
of rest. The plants should then be placed in the resting
house ; that is, the East Indian or Stove Orchids be re-
moved to the Mexican house, and the Mexican Orchids
to the greenhouse. Water should be gradually withheld,
only enough being given to prevent the roots and pseudo-
bulbs from shriveling. The season of the year during
which the plants should rest, is from November to the
middle of February. There are, however, some plants
which will not conform to the general rule, but grow
during the winter months ; such are many of the Aerifies,
Vandas, Saccolabiums, Phalcznopses, Zygopetalums, and sim-
ilar species. These will require water at the roots to
keep them in growth, but care should be taken not to
wet the young shoots, for they are apt to rot at this sea-
son of the year. Those that are growing should be
placed at the warmer end of the house.

Certain species vary from the general rule : this is the
case with Dendrobiums. The period of repose in these
plants is known when the shoots have reached the usual
size, and when the foliage on the old shoots assumes a
yellow tinge. The season of growth is known by the
appearance of swelling eyes, or flower buds around the
stems at the base of the old leaves, or where the leaves
have fallen, and the budding of eyes at the base for new

Then the plants should be started into growth that
these buds may be fully developed, but care must be
taken not to water the plants thus budding over much, or
the flower-buds will not come out, or will produce un-
sightly leaf stalks, and the whole plant start into vigorous


Some orchids are deciduous, losing their leaves after
they have finished their growth. To this class belong
Cyrtopodiums, Barkerias, Cycnoches, Phajus albus, some
Dendrobhims, Ccelogyne maculata and Wallichiana, and
many others. These should be placed so they may have
as much light and air as possible, during their resting
season. In this way the bulbs are ripened, which causes
them to grow stronger, and to flower more freely. These
flowers require but very little water when at rest. But
when such plants as Vandas, Angrczcums, Aerides, Saccola-
biums, and Phalanopses, are at rest, they should never be
allowed to get too dry at the roots j the moss should al-
ways be kept a little damp, for the stems and leaves are
very apt to shrivel if kept too dry, and this often causes
them to lose their bottom leaves ; they require but a
short season of rest. Those which are growing on
blocks, will require more water than those which are in
pots or baskets, and should be watered about twice or
three times a week if the weather is fine, but in cloudy
weather not so often.

Water should be poured over the paths and walks
every fine morning, in order to create a moist atmosphere
in the house, but the degree of moisture must always be
regulated by the weather outside ; this is a most impor-
tant care ; if the weather is cloudy, the house should be
kept dry.

During the resting season the glass and roof should al-
ways be perfectly clean, so that the plants may have
plenty of light and sun; you can hardly at this season
give too much. If awnings are used, they should be
rolled up the greater part of the day, and if the glass
has been painted or white-washed, it should be cleaned


off. Yet some discretion must be used in exposing the
plants to direct hot sun, and at times an awning is neces-

When the plants begin to grow, the temperature should
be greatly increased, and may be raised by the sun dur-
ing the summer to 90 or 100 without injury, but the
plants must be shaded from the direct rays of the sun.
In the Mexican house, however, the temperature should
never be allowed to go above 80 to 85.

Great attention should be paid to the state of the at-
mosphere as regards moisture, as at all times of the
year this is of great importance to the successful growth
of the plants, for they derive the greater part of their
substance from the moisture of the air; so especially
whenever any of the plants are growing, the atmosphere
should be well supplied with moisture. To obtain this,
water should be poured over the tables, walls, and paths
of the houses ; the slate tables if made with a rim may
be filled with it, and evaporating pans may be placed on
the flues or pipes. The hot water tanks should also be
kept full, or a little water may be poured over the pipes
if there is a gentle fire. Thus a gentle steam will rise,
which is of great value while the plants are in a vigor-
ous state, of growth, especially as regards the East In-
dian Orchids, such as Saccolabiums, Aerides, Vandas, Phal-
cenopses, Dendrobiums, and many others requiring a high
temperature with a considerable degree of moisture.

The Mexican Orchids, most of which come from a
cooler climate, not so saturated with moisture, of course
require less heat and moisture, but they should have a
much greater degree of warmth than when at rest. It
should be greater during the months of May, June, July,



and August, ranging by night from 65 to 70, and by day
rising with the heat of the sun from 70 even to 85.

During growth, with but few exceptions, Orchids should
never be exposed to the full rays of the sun ; during rest
the more sun and light the better.

We cannot bring the plants to observe one rule and to
conform to a day or even a month ; constant watching is
necessary to adapt treatment to the peculiar condition of
each plant, and thus we see the necessity of providing
houses to be kept at different temperatures, that the
proper treatment for each plant may be afforded.




ORCHIDS, with but few exceptions, should be care-
fully guarded from the direct rays of the sun from
March to October. The easiest and most economical
way to do this is to whiten the glass. A preparation for
this is made by mixing Spanish white in water, adding
milk in the proportion of a pint of the latter to five pints
of the former. This composition may be thrown over the
glass with a syringe on a dry day and is sufficient to pro-
tect the plants from the sun and will for a time resist the
rain. The coating should be renewed as it wears off,
which may be five or six times a year.

Some growers paint the glass of Orchid houses ; the ob-
jection to this is, the paint cannot easily be removed, and
the Orchids are kept in perpetual shade. There are ob-
jections to using any wash applied to the glass, the chief
of which appears to be that the plants are shaded on
cloudy as well as on sunny days, and often the light given
is not sufficient for the health of the plants.

Another way is to place an awning over the glass when
the sun strikes it. These, however, wholly deprive the
plants of sun j but as Orchids in their native woods grow
upon the branches of large trees, they almost always re-
ceive some of the solar rays, though always so tempered
by interposing leaves and branches as not to burn the


plant, and an occasional exposure, if not too prolonged
or too hot, is not injurious.

Canvas may be used for this mode of shading. There
should be blinds on each side of the house with a strong
lath at the top to nail the canvas to with a roller at the
bottom. The canvas must be nailed to the roller, but
care should be taken in doing this that the awning roll
up regularly from the bottom to the top. Such an awning
is also useful in cold weather for covering the house in
frosty nights, being a great protection to those plants that
are near the glass. It is advisable to have a covering on
the top of the house for the protection of the canvas
when rolled up, in order to keep it from wet.

Another way which is to be recommended is the use" of
movable blinds rolling upon themselves in order to be
easily removed. The bars of the blinds should be verti-
cal and not horizontal, as thus there is less danger of
burning the plants, the solar rays being more divided.
These blinds are far more sightly than canvas and more


This is an operation always requiring great care. No
water impregnated with lime should be used, as it is inju-
rious to the plants. The best is rain-water, to secure a
supply of which, slate, brick, cement, or wooden cisterns
should be provided in every Orchid house. The temper-
ature of the water should always be that of the house ;
it may be warmer, but colder is injurious.

The water should be applied by means of a syringe
with a flat nose pierced with very fine holes, so made as
to throw the water in a continuous stream.

Water should not be indiscriminately applied to all;


we must discriminate between those at rest, those coming
into growth, those in full growth, and those of which the
pseudo-bulbs are nearly formed ; and some plants should
never have the foliage wet. Those at rest should have
little or no water, at the most only sufficient to keep the
roots from shriveling and the earth or moss from being

In the case of plants just starting into growth, only
enough water should be given to keep the earth in which
the plants grow, moist ; for, if watered too profusely, the
young shoots are apt to be affected by the moisture of the
house and are liable to damp off.

As the young bulbs grow, the supply of water should be
increased; and when the pseudo-bulbs are about half
grown they may have a liberal supply.

When the plants begin to show bloom water should still
be given liberally, but care must be taken not to allow it
to rest upon the stalk or buds, for fear it may rot them.
When plants are in bloom, no water should be given over-
head, as every drop falling on the blossom will leave a
spot, and cause it to wither.

Plants of the tribe Epidendrea need but little water at
the roots ; the atmosphere should be moist enough for all
their wants. On the other hand such plants as Sobralia
and Cyrtopodium need a wet soil, water should therefore be
generally given in the pot and but slightly on the foliage.

Watering should generally be regulated by the external
temperature and the weather. In a cold, cloudy day it
may be entirely dispensed with ; in hot, dry, sunny days
water should be plentifully administered at night and

It sometimes happens, during a long spell of rainy or
cloudy weather, that the house becomes too wet and cold ;


this is easily known by the appearance of the pots and the
plant^ ; in such cases a fire should be lighted to drive off
superfluous moisture and to warm the plants.

When in cold weather the temperature is kept at about
50, water should be almost' entirely withheld ; if there is
no sun, a little sprinkled on the pipes or on the paths may
be sufficient, as thus a moist warm atmosphere is supplied
to the house. The evening watering and syringing should
be given about an hour or more before sunset, after the
houses are closed for the night. The morning, after the
sun has gained some power.

If possible, the house should be dried up once a day by
means of ventilation.

In syringing great care must be taken not to wet young
shoots or flower stems too much. Free syringing should
only be given in warm weather, but separate plants may
receive water overhead as they require it.

Those plants which are growing on blocks of wood
should be syringed twice a day in summer. It is also a
good method, during the growing season, to take the blocks
down and dip them in water till the wood and moss are
thoroughly soaked.

Plants in baskets should also be examined, and if they
are dry, they also should be soaked. In this way also
many hurtful insects may be destroyed, for floating on
the water they are easily killed.

If rain-water cannot be had, pond water is the next

The regulation of syringing is one of the hardest things
for the beginner to learn. In many houses it is wholly
unnecessary, the wetting of the moss on the shelves and
in the pots and the sprinkling of the paths being suffi-
cient. It should never be profuse. Some plants, such as


Dendrobium Falconeri, need it daily ; others, like most Cat-
tleyas, a genus very impatient of wet on the foliage, never.
In subsequent pages we shall, when prescribing the treat-
ment of special plants, treat more fully on this subject.





AT the close of the resting season is the proper time to
pot Orchids ; but no season of the year can be ab-
solutely determined as the proper one for this operation.
The months of February and March are the best times to
repot some, that is, after the resting reason.

Those that do not need potting should be top-dressed
with fibrous peat, removing the old soil from the top with-
out breaking the roots of the plant. The pots should be
thoroughly cleansed from mould, moss, and dirt, and this
time is also favorable for searching after and destroying

Plants, previous to potting, should not receive any watei
for four or five days.

Some species should be potted somewhat later, just as
they begin to grow. All species of the genera Phajus,
Calanthe, Dendrobium, Stanhopea, Cyrtopodium, Brassia,
Miltonia, Sobralia, Bletia, Oncidium, and many others re-
quire this treatment.

Lczlias, Cattleyas, Saccolabiums, Aerides, Vandas and
similar plants should be potted just before the beginning
of the growing season.

The chief attention requisite in potting is that the pots
be well drained ; the best material for drainage is pot-
sherds or charcoal. See that the pots are perfectly clean
inside and out, also wash the potsherds to be used for


Let the pot be proportioned to the size of the plant;
over-potting is injurious.

Some plants will require changing once a year ; others
once in two or three years. But if a plant becomes sickly
and sodden with wet, the best way to bring it into a
healthy state is to turn it out of the pot, wash the roots,
cut off any which are dead or decayed : after repotting
give but little water until the plant throws out fresh roots.

The best pots for Orchids are made of common clay ;
those with holes cut in the sides are very useful.

In potting large plants a small pot should be turned
upside down on the bottom of the large one, the pot
should then be filled with potsherds or bits of charcoal ;
about two inches square is the size for large plants, but
somewhat smaller if the plants are small. Fill to within
two inches of the rim, then put on a layer of moss (the
white sphagnous moss of meadows is the best), to prevent
the soil from choking the drainage, and to allow the
water to pass off quickly. This is of great importance,
for if it is not attended to, the water will become stagnant,
the soil sour and sodden, which is fatal to the growth of
the plant.

The great point to be observed in the potting of Or-
chids is to secure good drainage ; without it, it is impos~
sible to keep the plants in a healthy condition.

The best material for potting epiphytes is good, rough,
fibrous peat and sphagnous moss ; the peat should be
broken into lumps about the size of a hen's egg ; pot-
sherds and charcoal should be mixed with the peat. The
plant should be placed one or two inches above the rim
of the pot ; all pseudo-bulbs should be above the soil.
A little peat should be put above the roots to cover them,


and the plant should be secured in position by pegs. If
the plant is not steady a stake may be placed in the pot
and the plant tied to it.

In repotting, all the old soil possible should be shaken
off, without injuring the roots. Water should be spar-
ingly given till the plants begin to make new roots, then

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 4 of 25)