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.
In the whole orchid family there is no genus that has caused more discussion among orchid growers than the Odontoglossum. Coming, in many instances, from elevated regions, where they are surrounded by fogs and' mists, they are exposed at times to great vicissitudes of temperature. Nothing is more changeable than the climate of tropical mountainous regions. I have seen the thermometer indicate from 90° to '95° at mid-day and clear, then 40° at daylight the next morning and misty; at the same time the daily change of temperature at the base of the mountain would not exceed probably 12° to ,15°. That there is something peculiar needed in the treatment of this genus is evident from the fact that while in England and on the Continent some succeed marvelously with them, others fail. Some grow them in cool houses, which they try to keep between 40° and 600; others do not mind if the mercury sometimes goes up to 85°, and in both cases succeed. That their proper cultivation should be sought is natural, for I think they are unsurpassed among orchids. Some pure white, or white spotted red, brown or yellow, others yellow or brown, or both these colors mixed in many ways; and again, pink or red are the predominating colors.
In size from an inch in diameter as in 0. putchellum to nearly six inches in 0. grande magnificum; stems from a few inches in length as in O. Rossii, to three or more feet in O. Laeve and O. car-niferum. Nearly fifty species are now offered for sale in English catalogues, and yearly the number is increased. No doubt varieties surpassing any that we have yet seen will be discovered, though to look at a plant of O. Alexandraae, O. vexillarium or O. triumphans in bloom, it would seem hardly possible.
There appears to be a great difference in the Odontosrlossums coming from Mexico and Gautemala, and those from the countries in the. north of South America. With the former I have succeeded admirably, but with the South American species I have failed. I find that the Mexican varieties make but one growth in a year, and remain dormant for some months; but the South American varieties show a tendency to grow all the time, and I believe that in their own homes the South American species bloom twice a year. It is well known, that countries near the equator have two Summers, and two crops are made on the same ground in a year. Now in New Grenada, Venezuela, and Ecuador, the home of the O. Alexandras, and 0. triumphans, etc, the sun is always near, which gives them heat, and coming from elevated positions they have an ample supply of moisture all the time. But Mexico lies near the Tropic of Cancer, is a much drier country, and though vegetation is always green, has really only one long Summer, then a long Autumn or Winter, and the same is the case with South Brazil.
The climate of all countries near the equator is less subject to variation than farther North or South. At Demerara and Para, the animal variation is not over 15°, say from 75° to 90°. Bogota, nearly under the equator, but nearly six thousand feet above the sea level, has a variation of about 25°, say from 42° or 45° to 70°. This latter elevation is the home of some of the finest Odontoglots. I find that our extreme Summer heats are far more fatal to these than the Winter cold - in fact, it is the only cause of our failure; and if we ever expect to succeed with them, we will have to build houses facing the north, partly underground, and plenty of arrangements to keep a cool moist atmosphere during the months from May to October. After that they may be placed anywhere in a temperature of 50° to 65°, and they will do well. I will give a few remarks on varieties that have done well with me in a temperature of from 50° to 65° in Winter, and as cool as possible in the Summer. I put mine in my Camellia house in Summer, which is well shaded and keeps from 70° to 85° in the hottest weather in day-time, and lower at night.
Bulbs and leaves dark green. Flowers from four to twelve in number, and from four to six inches in diameter; sepals and petals brown and rich yellow, mottled and striped; lip white and purple, blooms in August or September, just after the leaf growth is perfected; keeps in bloom from three to four weeks. There is considerable variety in the size of flowers and marking. Should be grown largely, as it takes but little room.
This resembles Odontoglossum grande very much in growth and bloom. It is, however, more graceful. The flowers are smaller; it blooms in December, January, and February. The lip in Odontoglossum Insleayii is yellow, spotted purple.
This I purchased at one of Young & Elliot's sales. It is much finer, than Odontoglossum Insleayii, and the flowers are larger; petals and sepals yellowish green, with bars and bands of rich reddish brown; lip beautiful bright yellow, bordered by a row of crimson spots.
Large, smooth, light green bulbs and leaves; makes its bloom in the Spring with the young growth; flowers about two inches in diameter, and from eight to twelve on a pendulous stem; flowers white, with purple markings on the lip. There are some varieties in which the flowers are rose and flesh color. It is said to require more heat than most Odontoglots, but it does well with me with the Mexican orchids.
I have not bloomed this yet, but it grows well and is making fine bulbs, so it is only a question of time. It is also from Mexico. Flowers come with the young growth and are borne on a pendulous stem. Flowers white in all parts spotted with reddish brown. The bulbs look like a citrosmum but are more wrinkled. Blooms four inches in diameter.
Blooms in Nov on an upright spike. Sepals and petals brown; lip lilac and sometimes white.
This has long, branching flower stems. Sepals and petals chocolate; lip, white; gets light yellow in a few days. Flowers one and one half inches diameter.
Small bulbs. Sepals and petals yellow barred dark red, lip white with reddish brown markings. There are many varieties of Odontoglossum cordatum, and Odontoglossum maculatum which resembles it in bulbs and growth, and is often sold for it.
Has very small bulbs and leaves. Flowers on short stems two or three together Sepals and petals white barred brown; lip pure white or whitish purple. I grow this in broken crocks and moss, and one half dozen plants can be grown in a six inch pot. Blooms from one to three inches in diameter.
Small bulbs. Blooms nearly pure white and fragrant. This also requires a half dozen plants to make a show.
Odontoglossum Loeve, Odontoglossum Uro Skinneri, Odontoglossum Cervantesii, and several other Mexican Odontoglots, succeed well with me and are desirable, as they last long in bloom and do not take much room.
Odontoglossum Alexandroe, and its varieties Odontoglossum Bluntü and Odontoglossum Andersonii,come from New Granada. I have bloomed Odontoglossum Alexandra; finely, but lost all my plants in the hot weather. The flowers are borne on half pendant stems, twelve to twenty on a stem; are nearly pure white with sometimes a few brown or red spots on the sepals, petals and lip. There are a great many beautiful varieties. I would be glad to hear of any one who had succeeded well with this most beautiful orchid.
Has long branching flower stems. Flowers about three inches in diameter, white spotted, brownish-red. I bloomed this, but came near losing it last summer.
Very beautiful short bulbs and dark leaves. Flowers three inches diameter-Sepals and petals golden yellow, spotted crimson brown; lip, white and rose. (New Granada).
The whole flower soft; rose three inches broad, and from, five to seven on a stem. I do not know if this has been bloomed in this country yet. It is considered in Europe the finest Odontoglot.
This is another beautiful New Granada plant with white flowers and rosy yellow lips. The flowers are borne on long spikes. This was bloomed by a gentleman in Baltimore whose plant is doing well now.
Odontoglossum Radiatum And Odontoglossum Luteo Purpureum are beautiful New Granada plants with brown and yellow sepals and petals; lip white with brown markings. There are a great many more species and varieties from South America, but I cannot as yet recommend any from that country as of easy culture; and as I propose these articles for the use of beginners in orchid culture, I can say that I have found the Mexican varieties to grow well. They can bear more sun than the others. This remark applies to all Mexican orchids.