This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
A beautiful orchid from Guatemala, of easy culture. The flowers are produced on spikes from the top of the bulbs, as many as six and eight flowers being produced on single spikes, if the plant is strong and vigorous. It is best grown in pots, with plenty of drainage, in fact the pot should be about two-thirds filled with potsherds, and a good layer of sphagnum moss cover the whole, to prevent any dirt from choking up the drainage. Peat, with a few pieces of charcoal mixed, is the soil I have found these plants to succeed best in; the peat broken in pieces about the size of pigeons' eggs and a good sprinkling of sand mixed with it. The plant is best raised well above the edge of the pot, and not too much water given at any time, as any approach to stagnant soil is apt to rot the roots and bulbs. It requires a good high temperature when making its growth, but when at rest and when its flowers are open a cooler and drier place is more suitable for it.
What a most beautiful genus of plants is Cattleya, some of the species being remarkably fine! What can equal some of the varieties of Mossiae, and what a number of varieties there are in the species, from pure white to the brightest rose color? It should be oftener seen in collections than it is, being suitable for growing with a general collection of plants, and of as easy culture as some of the finer kinds of roses, which every body thinks he or she can grow.
A subscriber asks: "Will some of the readers of the Monthly be so good as to give a few hints as to the treatment of Cattleya Skinnerii ?"
Some one has asked for information on this Cattleya. C. Skinnerii wants more heat than any other Cattleya except C. superba and C. Dowiana. When I first commenced to grow C. Skinnerii, I found it placed in some catalogues as a cool, and in others as an intermediate orchid, and under this treatment I never bloomed them. Now, as soon as they commence to grow I put them in a moist, high temperature. They should be near the light, so as not to get too spindling. To bloom they must be grown very strong. When they have made their full growth, and begin to show the spathes, which will be in August, they must be put in a cooler and drier place to harden the bulbs. They make the flower spathes often six months before they bloom. These spathes sometimes get dry, and the flowers become abortive. It is necessary to split open the spathe to give the flowers a chance to get out. I find they do well with me in pots, the whole plant elevated well up. I have had as many as nine flowers on a spike. They can be forced quite easily.
I will have a plant in bloom by February 20th, others not until late in April. There is a white variety, but it is rare.
I think if collectors would be more particular to give us full description of the houses of orchids, it would help us very much. Guatemala may mean a heat of from 75° to 100° on the coast, or 40° to 75° on the uplands.