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.
This genus of Orchids is a very large one, containing several hundred species and varieties, and had all the species that were formerly in it been still retained, it would contain about one-fourth of the Orchid family. I have often thought that the genus Polypodium among Ferns, Amaryllis among bulbs and Epidendrum with Orchids, were intended for the benefit of ignorant plant collectors. Any newly discovered plant of either of these genus, that would not fit elsewhere, found a temporary home; if a Fern, as a Polypodium; a bulb, as an Amaryllis, or an Orchid, it was called an Epidendrum. Though our modern botanists have done much to clear up these generas, they are still very unwieldy and I think are capable of division.
By the way, in the July number of the Gardener's Monthly, some one writes of "Amaryllis longifolia." There is no such plant as "Amaryllis longifolia." It is Crinum capense vide, Herbert on Amaryllidaceae, page 2(39. A mere glance at the plant should convince anyone that it is not an Amaryllis, or as Herbert has named the S. A. varieties Hippeastrum. Though the genus Epidendrum is a very large one, but a small percentage of the species are considered ornamental. A very great proportion of the flowers are greenish-yellow, or brownish-green, with little to recommend them but their odor and length of blooming, and where collections are large, some of the best of the odoriferous species come in very well, and give but little trouble in their cultivation, for with one or two exceptions, Epidendrnm are the very donkeys of the Orchid family. They will bear more neglect and be more grateful for a little attention than any other Orchids. The genus is very dissimilar in growth and manner of flowering, though all make their bloom from the top of the bulb except Epidendrum Stamfordianum (syn.) Basilare. They can be divided mainly into two classes. Those making short turbinate bulbs, and those making long terete bulbs often four or five feet long.
Though, as a whole, the Epiden-drums are not showy, still there are a few very handsome species, and without which no collection of Orchids would be complete.
A native of Trinidad and Guiana. This is quite a difficult plant to cultivate, and I lost several plants before I succeeded in growing and blooming it. It requires the hottest place in the house, and I have seen the glass 110° in the place where my plants hang. It has hollow bulbs from eight to twelve inches long, with two or three stiff leaves. The flower stem from twelve to sixteen inches long, and bears about twelve flowers, two inches in diameter. The color is pure waxy white, except the lip, which is speckled crimson. If kept dry the blooms last thirty to thirty-live days, and has a delightful odor. Blooms in May or June.
Brazil. Short bulbs, with panicles of flowers, white, rose, or pink in the sepals and petals; lip crimson. This has not done well with me. Bloomed once, but since then the bulbs have decreased in size.
Short bulbs with two stiff dark-green leaves. Sepals and petals brown, lip white in some varieties, and rose in others. It can be grown among the cool Orchids.
Has short, dark-green bulbs and dark leaves, with a panicle of rosy flowers, lip lighter, with some red lines at the base. The flower stem is stiff and upright. I was fortunate enough to get several plants at a sale of Young & Elliott's. I also had another Epidendruni in the same lot with much darker flowers, lip beautifully striped with pink, and the blooms were in a flexuous raceme. Both have a very fine odor, and remain a long time in bloom. Blooms three and a-half inches in diameter.
Cuba. Short bulbs; sepals and petals brownish-purple, lip pink and crimson. This is a beautiful species and rare. I have bought many, but never got the true one but once. Two inches in diameter.
Mexico. Has small bulbs with a bluish tinge; flowers orange-scarlet, with a very narrow bright yellow lip. There is a larger-variety under the name of vitellinum majus; flowers larger, two inches in diameter. I have one now in bloom, which has been open seventy days and the flowers still fresh.
There are other desirable Epidendrums of the bulbous species. Epidendrum selligerum, Epidendrum prismat-ocarpum and Epidendrum primulinum. I have one with, racemes of neat white flowers, lip striped pink.. It was bought for Epidendrum phcenicium. I have another with flower stems over four feet longr and laterals one foot. Flowers light yellow, with some brown marking on the lip. Came from Honduras, and is very fine, blooms last forty days, and remarkably sweet.
Has long club-shaped' bulbs, and the flower stem comes from the base of the bulbs. The flowers are greenish-yellow, spotted reddish-brown. Makes a dense raceme.. Requires more heat than most Epidendrums.
Guatemala and Mexico. This is unique for an Epidendrum. It has no bulbs, but in. growth resembles a large Brassavola, and bears its flower nearly in the same way. It bears one or two large flowers, white, with a slight yellow tinge, but in other varieties the sepals and petals-are brownish-white. It blooms in June, and with me makes its growth in the Winter.
This is not very showy, but a large plant with a dozen spikes of blooms; makes a neat appearance. Bulbs about five inches long, dark green and furrowed, flowers one inch, in diameter, sepals and petals greenish-white, lips white, beautifully marked with purple veins..
Makes long bulbs-; flowers white, sepals and petals slender, often two inches long, lip white and beautifully fringed.
A curious species from the West Indies and Central America.. Sepals and petals-greenish-yellow, reflexed like the petals of a cyclamen; lip dark purple with golden-yellowlines. It lasts long in bloom. I have seen one stem in flower for over three months.
A tall straggling plant having short thick leaves on a stem often four feet long. The flowers which come from the top are small, but of a bright pink, with a fringed lip. Where there is plenty of room it is desirable, as it is nearly always in bloom.
In growth like Epidendrum crassifolium, but not so strong, flowers in the same way, and keeps long in bloom. Makes a more compact plant than Epidendrum crassifolium. Should be grown in a basket, and the slender stems bent round. This gives the plant a better shape and causes it to break new growths. The flowers are light orange - scarlet lip fringed yellow.
A tall grower, with the same habit of growth as Epidendrum crassifolium, but even taller. However, the stem can be easily bent when young. It makes numerous small roots along the stem. Flowers in a raceme, orange-scarlet; keeps in bloom a long time. I have an Epidendrum from Brazil of the same terete habit, but it only grows about eighteen inches high, with light red flowers. Within the last ten years there has been introduced into Europe several more of these tall growing Epidendrums, Epidendrum cattillus, Epidendrum cnemidophorum, Epidendrum Frederic Guilulmi, Epidendrum pani-culatum and Epidendrum syringothyrsus. Judging from the descriptive and catalogue prices, these should be very fine, though neither is an fnfallible test, as anyone will find who goes largely into importing Orchids from Europe, from catalogue descriptions. They are inclined to cut things too fine, and make too many species from mere varieties. This is not only true with regard to Orchids, but all hybrid plants, Geianiums, Roses, etc.
The species of Epidendrum with bulbs should be kept near the light, and must not get much water until the growths are well advanced. In fact they seem to require less moisture than any other Orchids. There are no doubt many other fine varieties to be introduced, but the bulbs so much resemble one another that it is risky buying them at auction, as they seldom turn out true to name. At least that is my experience.