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 5 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 5 of 25)
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more liberally.

The best potting material for plants in baskets is
sphagnous moss and potsherds. The size of the basket
should be proportioned to the size of the plant. A layer
of moss should be placed at the bottom and then the bas-
ket filled with moss and potsherds. The plant should be
placed about level with the top of the basket, and should
be tied to a stick in the centre to keep it firm.

Those plants which are grown on wood should have
moss attached to the blocks, if by experience they are
found to require it ; some do better on bare blocks, but
they need more moisture, as they are then entirely depen-
dent on what is obtained from the atmosphere. They
should be firmly fastened to the block by copper wire se-
cured to copper tacks driven into the block. When they
make new roots they will cling to the blocks and the wire
may be removed.

When the roots overrun the pot or the pseudo-bulbs
become too numerous or the soil becomes sodden, the
plant should be repotted. The chief precaution to take
is not to injure the roots, as any such injury may check
the growth of the plant, and weaken the flower.

In repotting small plants it is only necessary to turn
the plant from the pot, al!6wing all the loose potting to
which roots are not attached to fall away. If the roots
are attached to the sides of the smaller pot and cannot be


disengaged without bruising, it may be well to carefully
break the pot, allowing the potsherd to which roots are
attached to remain. The plant should be carefully ex-
amined and all decayed or dead roots cut off with a sharp
knife ; then it should be placed in a pot about half larger
than that it formerly occupied. More care is requisite in
repotting very large plants, but the operation is performed
:'.n the same general manner.

Where Orchids have to be transplanted from wooden
baskets or pots, it will usually be advisable to sacrifice the
old basket, as the roots will generally be too firmly at-
tached to the wood to be separated. The best way is to
cut the old basket to pieces and dispose the pieces with
the roots attached among the soil of the new basket. The
roots very seldom fasten on to baskets of wire or metal ;
should they do so, they can be detached without injury,
and therefore repotting from these baskets is very easy.

Such plants as "Stanhopea, Acropera, Atineta, Cirrhcea,
and others which send out many roots, should be trans-
planted at least once in five years. The matted roots
form a thick mass, which should be separated with care,
the dead ones cut out, and only those preserved which
are alive and have spongioles. These dense masses of
roots often prevent the descent of the flower stalk through
the bottom of the pot or basket, and cause it to damp off.

When Orchids grown on blocks cover the wood with
their roots, they may be repotted in two ways : the block
may be placed in the centre of a basket tilled with com-
post and supported there ; the roots will soon extend over
the basket, and the effect will be very pretty. Another
way is to fasten new blocks to the old, covering the junc-
tion with moss ; the roots will soon bind the old and new
blocks firmly together.


The Orchids which should be grown in pots are those
which throw up a flower-stalk from the base or top of the

Those which have pendent flower-stems, or those which
push the flower horizontally, or where the stem grows out
underneath the pseudo-bulbs, should be cultivated in
baskets or on wood.

In potting all Orchids the plant should be placed in
the centre of the pot and should be, as it were, on the top
of a mound, sloping up from the sides. The advantage
of this is that there is less chance for the water to settle
among the young shoots and to rot the tender roots, and
should the drainage of the soil be imperfect, the water
will usually drain off if it reaches the sides of the pot.




THERE are comparatively few representatives of
this numerous class cultivated in our hot-houses.
As a general rule the flowers are by no means as showy
as those of epiphytes, though no less curious.

Terrestrial Orchids are more generally natives of the
more temperate climates, and our own woods and swamps
furnish some very beautiful species ; among these we may
mention Cypripedium acaule, the pretty Lady's Slipper so
common in pine woods ; the rarer and more beautiful
yellow species (C. parviflorutri), the magnificent Cypripe-
dium spectabile, one of our finest wild flowers, and the
rare and curious Ramshead (C. arietinum}. The wet
meadows give us Arethusa bulbosa, a gem of a flower, and
the kindred Adder's Tongue (Pogonia ophioglossoides), and
the high colored and fragrant Cymbidium or Calopogon
(C. pulchelluni). And in the woods we may find the curi-
ous flowers of the Coralwort (Corallorhiza odontorhiza),
and the beautifully variegated Goodyeras. The sunny
fields will also give the species of Ladies Tresses (Neot-
taa or Spiranthes}, while all through marshy woods and
open meadows we find the beautiful representatives of
the Orchis family.

Most of these may, with careful culture, become in-
habitants of our gardens, and many of them are grown
and treasured in England and on the continent as rare


The terrestrial Orchids we should grow are the rarer
exotic species, of which many are remarkable for gorgeous

As a general rule they require a stronger compost than
the epiphytal species. It should be composed of turfy
loam chopped into pieces about the size of a walnut, leaf-
mould, and a little well rotted cow dung. These shoul-4
be well mixed together.

They do not require as much drainage as epiphytes :
two inches of potsherds, broken rather small, will .be
enough ; on that put a layer of moss, then some of the
rough peat and fill in with the compost.

The plant should be placed one inch below the rim of
the pot.

Water should be sparingly given at first, but when the
plants are about six inches high, they may have a good

They should be potted just when they begin to grow
after the resting season. During the season of rest they
should have less water than epiphytes j in fact only
enough to keep the earth damp that the plants may not
dry up ; and some species none at all.

The temperature at which these plants must be grown
must be regulated by that of their native country. Some
need the heat of a stove, others the Mexican house, and
some flourish well in the greenhouse. Plants of the
same genus may require different treatment ; thus we
find stove, cool house, and greenhouse Cypripediums.

These plants usually make a rapid growth, produce
their flowers, and then go to rest. The foliage should be
well grown, allowed to ripen gradually, and the plant only
put to rest when it is withered. In growing these plants


the only way to secure vigorous shoots is by growing the
foliage well ; therefore every attention should be given to
producing stout growtn, and large leaves. After once
starting into growth the plants should never be allowed
to flag for want of moisture.

Some species will endure more sun than others, some
require a hot, shady location ; some, as Anczctochilus, re-
quire to be grown under a bell-glass.

Some species are deciduous, others evergreen, and
specimens of both classes often occur in one genus as
in Cypripedicz.

One of the most splendid terrestrial Orchids is Disa
grandiflora, a magnificent plant, which for years baffled
all attempts at cultivation. The difficulty has been over-
come, the mistake being in supposing that like most
Orchids it should be allowed to wholly dry off ; which
being done the plant never revived. The true treatment
is to keep it watered ; it will continue to grow and thrive,
and can be grown in any greenhouse from which frost is
excluded, as in its native locality the thermometer often
sinks to 32. The spike is thrown up about eighteen
inches high, and the beautiful and high colored flowers
are freely produced.

Among terrestrial Orchids the genus Ancectochilus is
remarkable. The plants are of dwarf habit with beauti-
ful variegated leaves, varying in height from two to six
inches ; their leaves, which are well defined and generally
obtuse in form, varying from two to four inches in length
including the stalk, which, like the stem, is short and

The foliage of all the species is remarkably singular
and beautiful, on some of the varieties resembling the


richest olive or almost purple velvet veined in regular
or curved lines with a net-work of gold. In other species
the leaf is rich green marked with silver tracings.

The plants require to be grown in silver sand mixed
with fine chopped sphagnous moss. The flowers are pro-
duced on short, upright spikes, but they are insignificant,
and the buds should be nipped off as soon as they ap-

The plants should be grown in pots in the shadiest
part of the East Indian house or stove under bell
glasses. Potted in the compost before directed they
should have good drainage.

They should not be planted in a large pot, as they do
not produce many roots, but they succeed best in a small
pot plunged in a large one so that the bell glass fits the
outside pot, which will allow space for the leaves to grow
within the glass. They should be repotted once a year,
about the first of March.

The plants should be raised one or two inches above
the rim of the pot ; during their season of growth, which
is in summer, they require an abundance of water at the
roots. In winter they only need enough to keep the soil
a little damp ; they require only a short season of rest.
The bell glasses must always be kept over them and
should always be kept clean or the plants will not thrive.
Anactochiluses are propagated by cutting the plants into
pieces with a root attached to each piece. When there
is only a single stem, the plant should be cut off just be-
low the first root and potted ; the old stump will soon
throw up a young shoot which must be left till it has
formed roots ; then cut it off and pot it, leaving the old
stock to throw up another shoot to form another plant.


It has been said they may be raised by planting the leaves
in sand under a bell-glass, like Gloxinias and Begonias.

The following are the varieties :

Anczctochilus argenteus. A free growing plant of easiest
cultivation, with bright clear green foliage and silver
markings. Known also as Physurus. A. argenteus pic-
tus is a fine variety.

A. intermedius. A pretty species with small foliage,
with soft silky surface. Color dark olive, striped and
veined with gold.

A. Lowii. The finest of the genus ; grows six inches
high, with leaves four inches long by three wide, resem-
bling fine velvet. Color, rich dark green shading to mel-
low orange-brown, intersected lengthways by well defined
deep golden lines, crossed by bars or lines of the same

A- Lobbii. A rare variety with dark foliage, with light

A. maculatus. A variety resembling A. argenteus, but
with more silvery foliage. Known also as Physurus.

A. setaceus. A fine species growing four inches high,
foliage two inches long, resembling rich dark velvet cov-
ered with golden net-work. There are many varieties of
this fine species.

A. striatus. A small and distinct species, with narrow
green foliage and a white mark down the centre of each

A. xanthophyllus. A very beautiful species ; grows
four inches high, with foliage two inches long. The
leaves are dark velvety with broad orange and green
stripe down the centre, covered with beautiful golden net-



A. (Physurus) fimbrillaris, a pretty species with dark
green leaves streaked with silver.

A. (Physurus] nobilis, a large-growing species with dark
green leaves, with silver veins.

A. Veitchii, a rare species, leaves large, light velvety
green with lines and bars of the same color but lighter

A. Turneri, a beautiful free-growing plant, leaves rich
bronze marked with gold.

A. Petola, a fine species, leaves light velvet covered
with bands of deep gold.

A. Bullenii, bronzy green foliage, marked with three
lines of coppery red, varying to gold.

A. Dayi, dark green leaves veined with red.

A. Roxburghii, a distinct species with dark velvety green
foliage, marked with well defined silver lines.

There are many other species, all interesting and



THE greater part of the Orchids grown in our stoves
are epiphytal, and are cultivated in pots, in bas-
kets, or on wood, according to their nature.

We have already given, when treating the subject of
potting, many hints upon the growth of these plants in
pots. The chief points to be regarded are, to secure
good drainage, to elevate the plant about one inch above
the rim of the pot, and to support the plant if the roots
are not long enough or too weak to sustain it.

The material to be used is peat, broken rather large,
potsherds, and moss.

Directions as to the mode of growth of different
plants will be given when we describe the plants.

It not unfrequently happens that different species of
the same family require to be grown in a different man-
ner, some having upright, and others pendent flower-
stems. In this chapter we would more particularly treat
of the grow r th of Orchids in baskets, or on wood.

Baskets may be of wood, metal, or pottery. The best
for the plants are made of round sticks of wood, about
one to two inches in diameter.

The best wood for baskets is maple, apple, cedar, or
oak, and the best baskets are those of a square shape.

The wood should be cut into such lengths as the size
of the basket may require, but they should not be too

8 4


large they take up too much oom, are too heavy, and
above all, the plants do not require much space.

After the wood is cut into proper lengths, the pieces
should be bored within one inch from the ends, taking

care to have all the holes bored the same distance.
There should be four lengths of strong copper wire, one
for each corner; the wire should be put through each
piece of wood, and brought up to form the handle of
the basket.


The form of the baskets must vary according to taste.
The following figures represent a few.

The distance between the pieces of wood or the wires,
must be sufficient to allow the flower spike to pass down ;
earthern pots should also have spaces cut out for this
same reason.

Baskets of wood or metal are much to be preferred to
those of pottery, as they are
much neater and ornamental,
and plants can be removed
from them with greater facil-
ity and without sacrificing the
pot, and they are not so

heavy. Baskets of metal should be of galvanized iron,
or of copper wire, the former are better, as being less
likely to get out of shape.
In form, the top should be ,
larger than the bottom, U
not only for artistic effect,
but because they hold the
earth better. In placing

the plants in these baskets

it may be well to put a layer of moss in the bottom, to

keep the finer earth from falling out ; the baskets should

not be filled as full as recommended for pots, but some

six months after having set the plant

in the basket, a light top dressing of

rich earth may be heaped up around

the plants.

The plants should be so disposed
that the foliage shall not touch the metal chains, or
wires, by which the basket is suspended. If a plant


sends out new shoots towards the wires, it is easy to
give them another direction, by inserting a bit of cork
between the pseudo-bulbs, and forcing the plant a little
to one side. The drainage of baskets should not be like
that of pots, but far lighter, in order that the flower-buds
may easily push through it ; sphagnous moss is the best.

This is particularly the case with Stanhopeas, Acinetas,
and plants of like growth. It is also an object to have
the basket as light as possible, for facility in suspend-
ing it.

It is not advisable to grow very large plants in baskets,
both on account of the weight, and the difficulty of re-
potting without destroying the basket and injuring the

In choosing the baskets, some regard should be paid
to the nature of the roots of the plants to be grown in
them. Many East Indian Orchids which have large long
roots, such as Aerides and Saccolabiums, should be placed
in deep baskets, and the soil should be rather composed
of peat and potsherds, than of moss and charcoal.

Those plants with descending flower-stems, such as
Stanhopeas and Acinetas, should be placed in shallow
baskets, and there should be nothing in the soil which
could stop the descent of the flower-bud.

Baskets should be suspended where they will not shed
drip upon the other plants. They should be frequently
examined, and great care should be taken not to allow
them to dry up.

The hook figured on page 57 is very useful for hang-
ing baskets, as thus they can be turned round without
lifting them from the nail.



The selection of the wood on which the Orchids are
to grow, is a matter of importance. We know that when
plants are thus grown, we cannot change them as we
can in pots and baskets, therefore we must choose wood
the least liable to rot, or to be attacked by fungus.

The best kinds are cork, oak, apple, pear, plum, or
with us, locust j as these stand best the warm moist tem-
perature of an Orchid house. Rough, knotty pieces are
the best, because the roots more easily cling to them.

In placing the plant upon the block we must inquire
the nature of the roots, and always provide a piece ten
to fifteen inches long and six to eight inches in diameter.
A hook should be fixed to each extremity of the block, in
a position to give it the requisite inclination.

The plant should always be placed in the centre of the
block, upon a slight layer of moss, and be retained in its
place by copper, lead, or zinc wire, until the roots cling
to the block.

The block should be suspended so as to give the
pseudo-bulbs an inclination of forty-five degrees.

The size above given for blocks, is of course not in-
tended for such small growing plants as Sophronites and
Comparettias. These should be grown on little branches
or blocks, about five inches long by two in diameter.
These little plants will thrive in small wooden baskets
filled with sphagnum, and they thus require less attention
to prevent their drying up, than when on wood.

It is not well to place more than one plant on a block,
as the plants often have different times of growth and
rest, and in supplying the wants of one, the other might


If the roots stretch away from the block, they may be
confined to it with lead wire. After they have made
spongioles on the wood, it is seldom they leave it. Dur-
ing the growing season, when the plant requires more
moisture, it is well to surround the plant with moss to re-
tain the water : this may be lessened or entirely removed,
as may be best, during the season of rest.

Many species of the Epidendrea need very little mois-
ture at the roots, drawing all from the air ; for these it is
sufficient to bind a little moss around the plant itself,
leaving the roots free in the air.

When the plants become established on the block, and
their roots are in good health, the inclination of the block
should be changed from forty-five degrees to fifteen or
twenty degrees, and in certain cases at the flowering
season the plant should be perfectly straight, especially
when the flower stalk is ascending.

The true air plants, such as Vandas, Saccolabiums, Aer-
ides y Angrcecums, Phalcenopses, when planted in baskets
or blocks, send out their roots much stronger into the air,
and suck up the moisture, whereas if they are planted in
pots and have their roots covered with soil, they are very
apt to rot.



THE only diseases which attack Orchids are rot and
spot. During the damp months of winter, rot is
very apt to affect those species with thick, fleshy bulbs.

It is caused by too much moisture in the house, or by
cold drip falling from the roof into the crown of the
bulb. During the winter, steam is injurious to Orchids
with fleshy bulbs, such as Cattleyas, Peristerias, Odonto-

If the rot is perceived when it has just begun, it is
easily checked by cutting the diseased part entirely away
with a sharp knife, leaving no portion of the decayed or
diseased bulb; then fill the wound with flowers of sul-
phur, keeping it dry.

When the leaves begin to rot, the diseased part should
be cut clean away, and a little sulphur rubbed on the
parts that are cut, but the sulphur should not be allowed
to get to the roots of the plant. When any part of a
fleshy bulb becomes discolored, and the dark or dis-
colored part appears moist or wet, especially if any fluid
exudes from it on pressure, the wet or discolored part
should be immediately cut out, or there is danger that the
bulb will be destroyed, as the rot is often much more ex-
tensive within the bulb than the discolored appearance
on the outside would seem to indicate. The plant should


also be removed to a drier and cooler place and water
given with the utmost care.

At the beginning of the growing season the young
shoots of Orchids often rot. This is caused by drip or
by water settling upon them. At this season the greatest
care is necessary to prevent this, and it should be espe-
cially seen that the water from the hanging plants does
not fall on the young shoots of plants below. Young
flower stalks often damp off from the same cause.

Orchids often suffer from a sour sodden soil, caused by
imperfect potting or deficient drainage, the result of long
deferred repotting. The remedy is to repot the plants.

Spot is a disease which attacks the foliage, and soon
disfigures it. It is caused by too much moisture in cool
weather, and by exposing the plants to draughts and sud-
den changes of temperature.

Prevention is far better than cure, .and if the rules for
potting and ventilation which we have prescribed are
followed, there will be no trouble from spot. Fresh air,
a sweet, moist temperature, clean, sweet, well drained
potting material, are perfect preventives of this disease.
Should a plant become infected it should be at once re-
moved from the pot, thoroughly cleaned, all dead roots
cut away, and repotted in fresh sweet material.

Spot is not necessarily fatal. If remedies are applied
in time, the plants soon outgrow it, and the new leaves
soon replace the injured foliage. We have found flowers
of sulphur efficacious in preventing the spreading of the
spot on the foliage.



The insects destructive to Orchids are the wood-louse,
the cockroach, the red spider, the white and brown scale,
thrips, green fly, small ants, slugs, snails, and mealy-bug.

The wood-louse is found in every part of the Orchid
house. It attacks every part of the plant, but chiefly
feeds on the tender spongioles of the roots, the young
shoots, and the flower buds.

Even plants in baskets are not safe from their attacks,
for they will run along the rafters and drop upon the
plants. They hide under the pots or in the drainage.

The common way to destroy them is to cut potatoes in
halves, scoop them out, and lay them along the tables of
the house. The insects will take refuge in these, and
great numbers may thus be destroyed.

If, however, this means becomes insufficient on account
of numbers, they may be destroyed by hot water. To do
this allow all the plants to remain unwatered about thirty-
six hours, that the soil may become dry. Have a pan of
water heated to about 70 Fah. and into this plunge the
pots about to the middle. All insects which have taken
refuge in the drainage will seek to escape at the top and
are easily destroyed as they fall into the water and per-
ish. This operation should be performed upon all the
plants in the house the same day. The hot water will
not hurt the roots of the plants, but the pots should only
remain plunged a few moments and the operation should
not be often repeated.

Cockroaches are most destructive in an Orchid house,
and in a few nights they may do a great deal of mischief.
They feed upon the tender roots and flower stems. The

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 5 of 25)