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 6 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 6 of 25)
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only way to keep them under is by constant search by
day and night : by day, by moving the pots under which
they conceal themselves, and by night, by lamplight. At
dark they leave their hiding-places to seek food, and it is
then they are most easily caught.

If damp moss is laid in the hottest part of the house,
they may often be found hiding in it. A mixture of
honey, lard, and arsenic, placed in oyster-shells round the
house will poison them, or any of the vermin extermina-
tors. Arsenic and tallow may be placed in the pots, but
care must be taken that it does not touch the roots or
shoots of the plant.

The red spider and thrips are destroyed by washing
the leaves with a weak soap-suds to which flowers of sul-
phur has been added ; allow this to remain upon the
foliage for a day and then wash with pure water. Every
part of the pseudo-bulb should thus be treated, that all
eggs and insects may be destroyed. A house thus in-
fested should be well fumigated with tobacco every
evening for three or four days till the insects are de-
stroyed. This smoking will also destroy any green-fly
that may infest the young shoots, but an Orchid house
should always be smoked lightly, as many Orchids are in-
jured by tobacco smoke.

Lime and sulphur mixed together and rubbed on the
pipes in different parts of the house when they are warm
is fatal to red spider. This remedy should be used with
care, as too much would seriously injure the plants. At
the time of its application there should be a moist atmos-
phere in the house, but not much heat.

The small ants are easily trapped by cutting apples as
above directed for potatoes and placing them around the


tables : the ants will find them, and if the traps are often
examined thousands may be destroyed.

The slugs and snails are often very destructive, attack-
ing the flower-stem and young shoots. They leave a
trail behind them and when this is perceived it must be
followed up and the insect destroyed.

The brown and white scale and mealy-bug are very
destructive : if not looked after, they increase rapidly and
often kill the plants. Cattleyas are especially subject to
their attacks. The following mixture rubbed over the
plants two or three times will destroy the insects :

To one gallon of rain water add eight ounces of soft-
soap, one ounce of tobacco, and three table spoonfuls of
turpentine ; stir well and leave the mixture for forty-eight
hours, then strain it through a cloth and bottle for use.

Or : Dissolve five ounces of camphor in half a pint
of spirits of wine the result will be an impalpable
powder ; add nine ounces Scotch snuff, nine ounces each
of black pepper and sulphur. Keep the mixture in a
well corked bottle.

If the plants infested are powdered with this prepara-
tion the insects will be destroyed.

As a general rule an Orchid house should be smoked
twice a month. In the growing season this fumigation
should be light, and plants in bloom should be removed
from the house.

Orchids should be washed, foliage and pseudo-bulbs,
at least once a month with a wet sponge.

The walls and rafters of an Orchid house should be
painted once a year.

By adopting these rules the eggs of insects will be de-
stroyed and the plants kept in good health.



ORCHIDS in cultivation do not reproduce them-
selves like other plants. It is very rarely that we
see them produce seed, and the seed obtained by fertiliza-
tion is usually incapable of germinating, or is of species
which increase far more rapidly by division.

The seed capsules of Orchids are filled with an impal-
pable powder; and the young plants the first year are
exceedingly minute. In masses of imported bulbs we can
see the regular gradations in size from very small to the
large flowering bulb. We may often see a mass of forty
or fifty bulbs one succeeding the other, of which only the
last four or five have produced flowers, and if only one
bulb is formed each year we can calculate the great age
of the plant. This is particularly the case in plants of
the genus Epidendrece.

The usual mode of propagation consists in separating
the bulbs ; there are different modes of performing this
operation suited to different species.

Some are easily increased by dividing them into pieces
or by cutting the old pseudo-bulbs from the plant after
the latter have done blooming ; such plants as Dendro-
biums are increased in this way.

The best time for dividing the plants is just as they
begin to grow or when they are at rest. They should be
cut through with a sharp knife between the pseudo-bulbs


being careful not to injure the roots ; each piece should
have some roots attached to it. After they are cut
through they should be parted, potted, and put into some
shady part of the house, and not receive much water at
the roots until they have begun to grow and make new
roots, when they may be liberally watered. Dendrobium
nobile, Pierardii, pulchellum, macrophyllum, Devonianum,
and varieties of similar growth are easily propagated.
This is done by bending the old pseudo-bulbs round the
basket or pot in which they are growing, or by cutting the
old flowering bulbs away from the plant and laying them
on some damp moss in a shady part of the house with a
good supply of moisture. After they break and make
roots they may be placed in pots or baskets. Such sorts
as Dendrobium Jenkinsii, aggregation, formo sum, specie sum,
and densiflorum and varieties of similar growth are in-
creased by dividing the plants.

Aerides, Vandas, Angrcecums, Saccolabiums, Camarotis,
Renantheras, and plants of similar growth are propagated
by cutting off the tops of the plant just below the first
root or by removing the shoots which spring from the
root or form in the axils of the leaves.

The young plants should be put on blocks or in baskets
with some sphagnum moss, and kept in a warm damp
place till they begin to grow, receiving little water at

Odontoglossums, Oncidiums, Zygopetalums, Sobralias,
Trichopilias, Stanhopeas, Schomburgkias, Mormodes, Ly-
castet, Peristerias, Miltonias, Lcelias, Leptotes, Epidendrums,
Galeandras, Cyrtochilums, Cymbidiums, JBrassias, Cyrto-
podiums, Cattleyas, Bletias, Cycnoches, Coryanthes, Coelo-
gynes, Barkerias, Calanthes, Aspasias, are all propagated


by dividing them into pieces each having a portion of the
roots attached to it and a young bulb on the pseudo-bulb.

Phajus albus is increased by cutting off the old pseudo-
bulbs after the young ones have begun to flower ; that is,
just before the plant has made its growth. The pseudo-
bulbs should be cut into pieces about six inches long, and
put into a pot in some silver sand with a bell-glass over
them till they strike root; then pot them in some fibrous
peat, with good drainage, and give a good supply of water
during the growing season.

Phalcenopses may be propagated by tying the flower stalk
along the block and surrounding the nodes nearest the
base with a little moss ; of course the flower-buds show-
ing themselves on this stalk should be picked off. Oncid-
ium Papilio reproduces itself in the same way. Some of
the Epidendrums such as E. cinnabarinum and crassifo-
lium will also form plants on the top of the old flower-
stalks. They should be allowed to make their growth,
and then be cut off and potted ; they will soon make
good plants.

Some Dendrobiums will also form plants on the tops of
the old pseudo-bulbs, and they should be treated in the
same way.

We have said that it is seldom that Orchids naturally pro-
duce seed in our stoves, but artificial fertilization is very
easy. We only have to lift up the end of the column which
conceals the anther ; then with small pincers to bring the
pollen masses to the pistil ; as soon as the pollen comes in
contact with the stigma, it is drawn into it and disappears.

In this way a great many plants of Vanilla were a few
years since obtained at the Jardin des Plantes at Paris.
As soon as a flower is fertilized, it begins to fade, and
ripening seed always exhausts the plant.


This subject of fertilization and, by means of it, of pro-
pagation, has within the last few years attracted much at-
tention in Europe and much of interest has been written
on the subject, in view of which we may conclude that our
knowledge of Orchids and their peculiar adaptations is
yet most imperfect, and that the future may yield rich de-

There are many Orchids that will keep on growing year
after year and yet produce only one flowering bulb each
year ; but if the plants are cut they will produce back-
breaks, increasing and soon make fine specimens. Some
plants are easier to increase than others, of which Cat-
tleyas are an instance.

When a plant has four back bulbs, cut the plant in two
between the bulbs, but do not disturb the plant ; let the
bulbs keep in the same place. The time of cutting and
after treatment should as nearly as possible be the same
as above recommended for propagation. The plant will
make new shoots and roots from the back part and soon
form a specimen. All Orchids having bulbs should be
treated in the same way if it is desirable to increase them.



T7PIPHYTAL Orchids generally produce their flowers
JLL/ in a manner to be seen to the best advantage from
below, while terrestrial Orchids produce theirs in a con-
trary way. In arranging the plants in the Orchid house,
this fact should be considered. Some cultivators have a
portion of a house for use as a show house to which they
remove the plants when in bloom. This is arranged to
display the plants to the greatest advantage, and can be
kept at a low temperature. Thus the plants remain longer
in bloom and are not affected by the damp atmosphere
necessary for the Orchid house. Most Orchids with large
flowers, such as Cattleyas and L<zlias and above all Phalce-
nopses, are very much injured if drops of water fall upon
or condense on the petals. Orchids are also seen with
more comfort in a cool house, for the hot moist tempera-
ture of an Orchid house is not pleasant to a visitor.

Many Orchids, such as Oncidiums, throw up a flower
stalk from two to three or more feet in length. Such
stalks may need a support, which should be of light slen-
der wood or of wire. These stalks continue to grow until
they branch, and the branches are often ten inches long.
In many of the species many months elapse between the
showing of the flower bud and the expansion of the flow-
ers. For example, Oncidium pulvinatum begins to throw
up the flower stalk in January, but the flowers are not
produced before the June or July following.


The supports for the flower stalks of Orchids should be
as small and neat as possible, and if they can be dis-
pensed with when the flowers expand, it will add much to
the effect of the flower.

Some Orchids continue to produce flowers for months
after the first have faded ; such flowers are always smaller
than the first, and such a prolongation of the flowering
season tends to exhaust the plant. It should be checked
by allowing the plant to go to rest. Phalcenopses are very
prone to over-flower and thus exhaust themselves.

Onddium Papilio, which produces only one flower at a
time, will continue to bloom from the same shoot until the
plant is exhausted. After the expansion of the third
flower, the flower-stalk should be cut off close to the

The duration of the flowers of Orchids is in proportion
to the time the plant takes from the shooting forth of the
flower bud to the expansion of the flowers. Some plants
bloom quickly, but keep the flowers in perfection only a
few days ; of others, the flowers are ephemeral, as Sobra-
lia decora \ others again produce flowers which succeed
one another for a month, as certain Maxillarias, Warrea
Wallesiana, while with such plants as Phajus, Cyrto-
chilum, and Cymbidium for the most part, the flowers con-
tinue to expand on the same stem.

The greater number of Orchids are exquisitely fra-
grant ; and their beauty, their different nature, the pecul-
iar modes of growth and shapes which they exhibit, furnish
a vast field for observation, and one of ever increasing

We can in this portion of the work only speak in gen-
eral terms, referring the reader for special observations on


the peculiarities of each plant to the descriptive pages.
The rules which have been given, are of general applica-
tion, but many Orchids require a peculiar treatment ;
these we shall attempt to notice in the succeeding portion
of the work.

We have spoken of the advantage of removing the
plants during the season of bloom to a cooler house.
Contrary to what might be expected, this will not injure
the plants, but it must not be done too suddenly; the
plants should be gradually accustomed to the change by
being first put, for a few days, at the coolest end of the
stove. Where there are two houses, those in the hotter
should be moved to the cooler for a few days before
being taken to the show house, and they should be al-
lowed to get nearly dry and should receive very little
water. The temperature of this exhibition house should
be kept about 50 and the plants in it should be shaded
from direct sunlight.

When the bloom begins to fade, the plants should be
removed to the stove, where they should be placed in the
coolest end with plenty of shade ; they should be kept
there for about ten days, for if they are exposed to the
sun they are very apt to be scorched. By thus remov-
ing to a cool house, Saccolabium guttatum and Aerides
affine may be kept in bloom five weeks. Aerides odor-
atum and roseum and Dendrobium nobile and ccerulescens
may be kept four weeks. Dendrobium moniliforme, mac-
rophyllum, pulchellum, Ruckerii, and secundum ; Brassias,
Oncidiums, Epidendrums, Odontoglossums, Cyrtochilums,
Trichopelia tortilis, Lycaste Skinnerii, aromatica, cruenta,
Maxillaria tenuifolia, and all the Cattleyas, do well in a
cool house and last much longer in flower.


Lcelia majalis will keep four or five weeks, and Lalia
flava a long time.

When it is probable that plants will come into blossom
earlier than is wished, the time of flowering may be suc-
cessfully retarded, by taking them to the cooler part of
the house or even to the greenhouse, keeping them
slightly shaded during the brightest part of the day.
Dendrobitims are very easy to keep back if they are
wanted later in the season. Dendrobium nobile, pulchel-
lum, macrophyllum, densiflorum, Farmerii, and Pierardii,
generally bloom in winter, but may be kept back till June,
and by having a succession of plants, the Orchid house
may be bright with Dendrobiums from January to June.

All the Dendrobiums will bear cool treatment while at
rest, and all can be kept for late flowering. The treat-
ment they require in a warm greenhouse is to have but
little water, only enough to keep them from shriveling ;
the temperature should not go below 40 ; and the bulbs
of the plants must be kept dry or the flower buds are
apt to rot. When plants are wanted to flower, move
them into the Orchid house, and shade them from the
sun. Phajus Wallichii and grandifolius may be kept
back in the same way.



\ T TITHIN the last few years, an entire change in the
V V culture of Orchids has been advocated, and in
many instances carried into practice in England, and
with no inconsiderable degree of success. This new
mode of culture, known as the "cool treatment," is
directly opposed to the practice of the last thirty years,
and to all the theories of Orchid culture. The propo-
sition on which it is based is, that Orchid houses have
always been kept too hot, and the plants grown on a
"high pressure principle : " that the maintenance of such
a temperature is not only very expensive, but injurious to
the plants, and that any person having a heated grapery
where the temperature is never allowed to fall below 40
Fahrenheit may grow most of the Orchids now in cultiva-
tion in great perfection, and withal ripen his grapes quite
as well as when the house was exclusively devoted to

Now if this can be done, and it has in many cases been
successfully accomplished, the culture of Orchids becomes
easy, and much of the expense which has deterred so
many from attempting it is saved. The experience of
florists and horticulturists hitherto has shown that it is
impossible to grow grapes and flowers successfully in the
same house : in other words a grapery and greenhouse
cannot be combined. But if our forcing houses can be


adorned by the gorgeous, fragrant, and curious flowers of
Orchids, the discovery is one of greatest value to the
florist and amateur.

We propose to condense from the latest English publi-
cations the experience of those who have put the new
theory into practice, feeling that if farther trial proves
the discovery to be of general adaptation, its value can
hardly be estimated-.

But first let us state, that while experience has shown
that this mode of culture succeeds with most Orchids, it
does not suit the nature of those species which come from
the hot, damp jungles of the Eastern Continent, but is
especially adapted to South American and Mexican spe-
cies, particularly those which are natives of the great
Andean range, where in fact the larger part of South
American Orchids occur.

We learn from Humboldt that although Orchids are
scattered throughout every part of the torrid zone, from
the level of the sea to the height of 10,000 or 11,000 feet,
yet it must be admitted that in the number of species, the
coloring of their blossoms, delicious fragrance, rich foli-
age, and brilliant flowers, none can be compared to those
that inhabit the Andes of Mexico, New Granada, Quito,
and Peru, where the shade is moist, and the breezes
mild, the mean temperature of the year at an elevation of
between 4,800 and 6,600 feet being from 64 to 69. In
fact these most beautiful of plants, like those most beau-
tiful of birds, the humming birds, seem to cling with a
marvelous partiality to the vast Andean chain, which
stretches from the frontiers of Mexico to the confines of
Peru. These mountains are, geologically speaking,
of recent date ; the Orchids, therefore, that inhabit them,


must likewise be comparatively recent : indeed no fossil
Orchid has ever been discovered, although ferns, with
which in these days Orchids are invariably associated,
have been found in countless myriads in the paleozoic

About ten years since continued failure in the cultiva-
tion of many new Granadian and Peruvian Orchids, led to
the suspicion that both the theory and practice of culture
was fundamentally wrong, and experiments were tried in
varying the temperature, which met with partial success.
The fault still was, that too much heat was given, and
often too little moisture ; consequently, the finest species
dwindled day by day, flowering poorly, if at all, and
finally were lost to cultivation.

It was in the collection of Linden that the first de-
cided move was .made towards cool treatment, and the
first decided triumph achieved, and there it was that the
rare and beautiful Odontoglossums figured in " Pesca-
toria," flowered for the first time.

In growing plants under the " cool treatment " the
house should be low and small, and should be either a
lean-to facing the north, or a well shaded span-roof.
The temperature should be as equable as circumstances
will permit, that is to say, during the day-time in winter
it should not fall below 60, while during the day-time in
summer, the less it rises above 70 the better. In the
night, of course, the temperature will fall considerably,
and even if it sink below 50 no harm will be done, and
many of the finest Odontoglossums will thrive at a mini-
mum temperature of 35.

Experience has shown that the East Indian house, or
a temperature averaging from a winter minimum of 60


to a summer maximum of 95 , is not the temperature
suited to the well-being of a single known example of
Odontoglossum or Lycaste. A Cattleya house, ranging
from a minimum of 55 to a maximum of 85, is not ex-
actly suited to either of the plants named, though such
species as O. grande, ritrosmum, Bictonense, Phalcznopsis,
and nebulosum, will live and remain tolerably healthy
under such a temperature, if accompanied with a proper
degree of moisture. In fact, for such a collection and
for such plants as Epidendrum vitellinum, Ly castes of all
kinds, Lcelia cinnabarina, anceps, andflava, Cattleya Skin-
neri and citrina, Trichopelias and Anguloas of all sorts,
and many plants of kindred nature, a minimum of 43
and a maximum of 70 to 75 during the heat of summer,
are of all temperatures best suited to the plants. Lower
than 40 (except in a collection composed entirely of
Odontoglossum Pescatorei, cordatum, membranaceum, Ehren-
bergii, and Cervantesii, which will bear 35) it had better
never be, even in very cold weather, and some care must
be taken to keep the plants during that time in a medium
state of moisture. Higher than 50 at night during the
dead of winter is not a good practice, although the house
may be allowed to rise to such a height during the day,
before giving air. Plenty of fresh air is of great impor-
tance during the summer and autumn, to consolidate the
pseudo-bulbs and encourage free flowering. It must be
borne in mind and carried out in practice, that in order
to promote the health of the plants the temperature in
doors must rise and fall with the temperature out of
doors. A good proportion is from 5 to 8 during night,
and from 8 to 12 during the day.

The plants themselves may be grown either on blocks,


or in pots ; the Odontoglossums always preferring the
latter, and Epidendrums the former. The general di-
rections for potting given in a former chapter, apply
perfectly to these plants. As a general rule they all de-
light to grow in good, rich, fibry matter,- such as is to be
had in swamps and peat meadows, where vegetable fibre
largely predominates. As many of the particles of
earthy matter as can be easily got rid of, should be sep-
arated from the turfs by beating.

If there is any inclination to soddenness, or a disposi-
tion of any kind to obstruct thorough aeration, a good
quantity of sphagnum moss should be introduced, which
counteracts any bad effects. There is nothing to be
gained by impoverishing the semi-terrestrial species, and
often cow or horse droppings, well dried, may be added
to the potting material with beneficial results.

No Odontoglot, Lycaste, Lcelia, or Trichopelia, as a gen-
eral rule should be allowed to get dry at the roots.
Nothing cripples their powers of action so much as
drought, and it sometimes requires months or even years,
for a plant to recover from a single " drying off" It
must be borne in mind that many of these plants have
watery bulbs, and make several growths in a year (such
are O. Pescatorei, crispum, odoratum, and gloriosum), and
if the bulbs are once allowed to dry up and shrivel, they
seldom recover their former vigor.

Occasionally it is necessary, to induce floral develop-
ment, to check the luxuriance of particular species which
show little disposition to flower annually, unless thus
wrought upon by the hands of the cultivator ; but there
is a particular time when such treatment is requisite (and
each plant must make its own rule), and its duration


must not be extended for too long a period. During the
growing season, no cessation of vigor must be encour-
aged; ample supplies of water both at the root and in
the atmosphere, are what the nature of the plants de-
mands. If the potting material be of the right kind, so
porous as to allow air to pass freely, and so fibrous as
not to become sodden, water may be given once a day
without injury.

To promote a moist atmosphere the shelves of the
Orchid house may be strewn with wet moss, from which
the evaporation is highly beneficial.

Insects should be kept under by the means given in a
former chapter. We must, however, remember that the
fumes of tobacco are injurious to many of the Odonto-
glots and other cool Orchids, causing them to shed their
leaves and as a general rule a miscellaneous collection
of Orchids requires to be fumigated with great care and

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 6 of 25)