This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
While there may be a question as to the successful culture of some Orchids - coming from elevated regions where they are at all times surrounded by a cool, moist atmosphere, - with regard to the splended genus Cattleya, there can be none; and it is my opinion that they will be grown and bloomed in this country much finer than either in England or on the Continent. In beauty they are surpassed by no member of the Orchid family. They are easy to cultivate, free to bloom, blooms lasting from 20 to 50 days, nearly all shades of color, except blue, and blooming in some one or other of the species at all seasons. A house properly constructed and filled with nothing but Cattleyas and their congeners, the large Laelias from Brazil, would be in bloom all the year round. And I find all Cattleyas, whether they come from Brazil, New Granada, Venezuela, or Central America, can be grown in the same house, and under the same treatment, only having a correct knowledge of their proper season of growth. My experience is that all Cattleya grow best in pots, except a few small growers. But in growing them in pots, the pots should be filled three-quarters full of drainage, and the plants kept well above the pots, and the lower bulbs covered with sphagnum moss.
As the roots of Cattleyas are perennial, great care should be taken to keep the snails and wood-lice from eating them; and at the time the plants are making new roots they should be kept well mossed up. The old roots, if kept sound, will emit new laterals, which will add much to the vigor of the plants. Cattleyas and Laelias suffer more from injudicious watering than any Orchids that I have cultivated, and will do with less water. I grow small ferns in the moss with the Cattleyas, and as long as the ferns show no want of water, I know that the Cattleyas have enough. There is less danger of over-watering, when the plants are kept well above the pots. In a few years, the moss will be a mass of fine, healthy roots. Cattleyas. need a long season of rest, differing according to their time of blooming. I will note later, in describing the species, what I have found to be the dormant season.
There seems to be three distinct forms of growth among Cattleyas: 1st, like C. labiata, which has a bulb about 5 or 6 inches long, and one strong leathery leaf varying in length from 6 inches to a foot; 2d, like Skinnerii, which has clavate or club-shaped bulbs with two leaves from 3 to 6 inches long; 3d, like C. Harrisonii. with slender bulbs from 1 to 2½ feet long, surmounted by two or three leaves. These latter are all Brazilian species. Cattleyas all bloom from a spathe coming out of the top of the bulbs, and vary in the number of the blooms from two to a dozen.
Of the first group with one leaf, C. labiata, from Brazil, is probably the handsomest. Flowers six inches in diameter; sepals and petals rose; lip rich crimson; blooms from June to October; has three or four flowers on a stem, and lasts in bloom four weeks. There are quite a number of varieties of this grand Qrchid. I have one with nearly white sepals and petals. This species commences to grow late in the Fall, and so will all Cattleyas that come from Brazil, if kept in a temperature of 60° to 65°. They will bloom in May, June or July, and rest until the middle of November.
Cattleya Crispa, also called Laelia crispa. From Brazil. Sepals and petals, slightly white tinged purple and curled on the edges; lip crimson violet, edges white,and the edge is beautifully crisped, bloom in the summer. Flowers four inches diameter, and last about 3 weeks.
Cattleya Mossoe, Venezuela, growth like Cattleya labiata; sepals and petals from nearly white to rose; lip rosy purple, with a bright orange disk. In the markings there is no Orchid that varies more than this, and also in the size of the flowers.. But all are beautiful, and it should be grown largely. Fowers from 5 to 8 inches in diameter, and from two to five on a stem; can be brought into bloom in May.
These seem to me to be very closely allied and all bloom in the winter, and appear to me to be no more separate species than the different varieties of Cattleya Mossae; sepals and petals white or rosy white, lip rosy lilac, with an orange blotch at the throat. Blooms two or three on a stem, and are nearly 6 inches in diameter. If kept in a dry, cool room, the blooms will last four weeks.
Bulbs about 9 inches long and more slender than Cattleya labiata. Blooms in winter; sepals and petals white, lip purple and orange with a crisped margin. The flowers are thick, and have a waxy appearance, very fragrant.
Cattleya Quadricolor And Cattleya Maxima are like Cattleya chocoensis in growth and form of flower, but I have not bloomed either of them. They come from the Pacific side of New Granada.
This by many is considered finer than Cattleya labiata. It is a strong grower, sepals and petals nankeen yellow; lip purplish crimson, with golden yellow veins. Flowers from 5 to 6 inches in diameter, and from three to six on a stem. I saw this in bloom with the late Mr. A. Hack. It is getting scarce in Costa Rica, 2d class.
Has upright club-shaped bulbs 8 to 10 inches in height and two leaves; flowers from three to ten on a stem. Rose with crimson lip. Flowers about 4 inches in diameter, and blooms in May.
Bulbs and leaves much like Cattleya Skinnerii, but much darker. Flowers five inches in diameter, about four on a stem, and blooms through the Summer and Fall. Sepals and petals splendid rose-lip crimson with white margin. This requires more heat than any other Cattleya, and seems to do best on a block with moss.
Not a very strong grower, but has the bulbs club-shaped and two dark green leaves. Sepals and petals light olive green barred purple, lip purple with a yellow blotch, grows well on a piece of rough cork.
Nearly related to the last, but stronger in growth. Both will sometimes bloom twice in the season. If grown on a block, they must not be allowed to get too dry and shriveled, as they seem to suffer from it more than other Cattleyas.
Cattleyamarginata, Cattleya Bulbosa, Cattleya Pumila, are three beautiful small growing Cattleyas from Brazil, and grow best on rough cork. They have rose flowers with crimson lip; 3d class.
Cattleya Harrisonii has long slender bulbs about 16 inches long, and two or three leaves. Flowers in Summer. Flowers rose; lip light rose with yellow center. Has about four blooms on a stem. I had a plant with over fifty blooms open at the same time, each 4 inches in diameter. I may here remark that all the Brazilian Cattleyas with terete bulbs, have narrower sepals and petals and shorter lip than the varieties like Cattleya Mossae.
In growth like Cattleya Harrisonii, but not quite as strong a grower. Flowers pale rose with some light purplish blotches, lip light rose and whitish yellow. Blooms in Summer.
In growth like Cattleya Harrisonii, sepals and petals greenish yellow, and in some varieties bronze yellow; lip very handsome, white outside orange yellow inside, streaked crimson. This is probably the least showy of the Cattleyas; but a large plant in bloom is very showy, and it is much better than many other Orchids. Cattleya intermedia,Cattleya intermedia violacea and Cattleyai. amethystina,are varieties of the same species. In growth rather shorter and stouter than Cattleya Harrisonii; sepals and petals white, blush or rosy white; lip white, with a purple blotch on the end. I have now four plants in bloom, no two exactly alike. It is a very neat and easily bloomed Cattleya, and if kept in a dry room, the blooms remain from four to six weeks. All Orchids in bloom should be put where no water can fall on the blooms, as they spot very easily.
Brazil; bulbs two feet long; flowers four to ten, about 4 inches in diameter; sepals and petals greenish yellow, with crimson spots; lip white with purple blotch; blooms in Sum-mer and last three weeks.
Growth like Cattleya Guttata; sepals and petals dark green, mottled brown and yellow; lip crimson purple; bears from six to twelve flowers on a spike; blooms in Summer.
Fall; slender bulbs two to three feet high; sepals and petals light rose, spotted purple; lip purple; blooms in March and April. I have had several plants sent from Brazil for the species, but have never got the true one.
Mexico; dwarf plant with small bulbs covered with a white skin; has two glaucous leaves about six inches long; bears one or two flowers of a rich yellow in all parts except the edge of the lips, which is white. The flowers are large for the size of the plant, are very beautiful, and have the odor of lemons; it is found growing with the leaves down. This plant has no resemblance to any other Cattleya, and I have doubts of its being a true Cattleya; if it is, it would be a fine one to cross with some of the others.
There are a great many other Cattleyas, some distinct species, but many others are only varieties or natural hybrids. Among the new ones highly recommended are Cattleya gigas, Cattleya Eldorado, Cattleya Exoniensis (hybrid); Cattleya Mendali,Cattleya speciosis-sima, Cattleya velutina and Cattleya Warneri. Any one growing Orchids cannot have too many Cattleyas. I have never seen one that was not handsome.