This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(upon trees, alluding to their epiphytal habit). Orchidaceae. Epiphytic orchids, some requiring hothouse and some coolhouse conditions; although a large genus, of minor importance horti-culturally.
Inflorescence simple or branched, nearly always terminal; claw of the labellum more or less adnate to footless column, the blade spreading and usually deeply lobed; pollinia 4, 2 in each anther-cell, separated. - Nearly 500 species discovered and described from the New World tropics, chiefly from Cent. Amer.
Epidendrums are noted as the rankest weeds amongst the orchid tribes. The remarkable success in the raising of hybrids, be it in the genus itself or with the related Cattleya and Laelia, has opened a wide field for the breeder. Epidendrum seedlings grow freely; the time required to bring them to the flowering stage is little compared with other orchids, and it is but a question of a short time till the blood of the epidendrums will be infused into the weaker but more gorgeous flowers of genera more difficult to grow. It is also the long stem and the grace of the racemes of the epidendra, as well as the odor of some of their species, which the hybridist will try to blend with the largeness of short-stemmed flowers, of cattleyas for example. Therefore a list of the species but rarely found under cultivation is given below, the value of which, however, will call for and justify large importations of their kind before long. It is scarcely possible to apply any one rule for the cultivation of this widely divergent and large genus, which includes many hundreds of variable individuals geographically distributed all over tropical America. For convenience they are treated under their several separate sections.
Barkeria embraces several deciduous small-growing species which generally deteriorate sooner or later under cultivation. They succeed best in small baskets, suspended from the roof, in rough loose material, such as coarse peat fiber, with a small quantity of live chopped sphagnum moss added to retain moisture, this compost freely interspersed with pieces of charcoal or broken crocks or potsherds. They are all subjects for the coolhouse, require a free moist atmosphere, shade from the sun while growing, and must be syringed frequently overhead in bright weather. After the plants have matured growth, they should be removed to a rather sunny location and be syringed overhead often enough to keep them in sound condition until they start new action. While resting during winter the temperature may range from 50° to 55° F. at night, and a few degrees higher during the day. They are increased by division. This should take place as the plants start growth action in early spring, allowing at least three pseudobulbs to each piece.
Section II. Encyclium, of which E. atropurpureum, E. nemorale and E. prisrnatocarpum are good examples, may be grown either in pots or baskets in equal parts clean peat fiber and live chopped sphagnum, with a liberal amount of drainage, and excepting E. vitellinum, which must be grown cool, they require a moist sunny location with a winter temperature of 58° to 65° F. by night and several degrees advance during the day. In February and March, many species will start root or growth action; such as need it should then be repotted or top-dressed, as occasion requires. The temperature should be increased several degrees, and a greater amount of water be allowed with frequent overhead syringing on bright days. Ventilation should be given whenever the weather will permit, to keep the young growths from damping-off and the atmosphere active; at this time the plants will need light shading to prevent sun-burning. The stock is increased by cutting nearly through the rhizome three or four bulbs behind the lead, when starting action; this will generally cause the latent eyes to grow, but the pieces should not be removed until the new growth is well advanced.
Aulizeum includes such species as E. ciliare, E. cochleatum, and the like, the several requirements being identical with the preceding.
Euepidendrum. These are mostly tall-growing species, some reed-like as in E. evectum, and others rambling in an irregular way, producing aerial roots along the stems as they grow; a good example of this is seen in E. radicans. All are best grown in pots and placed near a partition or end of a greenhouse where support may be given as the growth advances. There is, in fact, no better example of an epiphyte than E. radicans, the roots often attaining several feet in length, and appearing from nearly every node. A structure in which 50° F. is maintained in winter will be ample, and full exposure to sun should be permitted at all times. This prevents immature growth, and flowers are produced very freely. After flowering time, young shoots appear, often from the old stems, and when a few roots are formed and before they become too long to go into a small pot without injury, remove them and pot with care, place the young plants in a shady place for a few weeks; in this way propagation is easily accomplished. This section of epidendrums produce seeds the largest known among orchids. They are green in color, and under favorable conditions germinate very readily.
It is, in fact, much easier to get the seeds to grow than to get the species to produce good seeds, for when flowering plants are produced from seed, there is an infinite variation that has not yet been understood.