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.
C. T., inquires for hints on the culture of Brassia Gireoudiana and Caudata. Both are Costa Rican orchids and require pot culture with good drainage and a compost of sphagnum with a little peat intermixed. They need to be well elevated above the surface of the pot, and require but little pot room. Stand them well up to the light in an intermediate house, the glass of course being shaded. Like most Central American orchids they are fond of bright but diffused light. The temperature of the house during spring and summer may run up to 95° dry sunheat, and there must be a liberal wetting down of paths and shelves twice a day, provided of course that the house dries up well in the middle of the day. Moderate ventilation is necessary whenever the outside temperature is above 45° or 50°. Brassias do not require any more moisture at the roots than a Cattleya, and if watered twice a week will do well. After growth is completed they will stand a winter temperature of 50° to 55° at night, and need but occasional waterings. Brassavola glauca is from Mexico and prefers block culture, and even more light than Brassia. It is a shy flowerer, and requires strong growth to produce flowers.
Hang it near the ventilator in an intermediate house close to the glass and water it daily, if on a block. In winter water it less frequently and give it still more light, though do not subject it to that roasting process which some growers call "resting" an orchid. It is not a favorite of mine, for there are so many other orchids which exceed it in beaut)', and flower far more freely and with less attention. It produces but one flower to a bulb, and will stand a temperature of 45° to 50° in the winter.
Under the head of "cool orchids," W. includes Epidendrum bicornutum. This is misleading, for the orchid in question I have never known to grow except in great heat. I have seen it die off whenever grown in any temperature less than that in which Phalaenopsis thrive. If given proper temperature and kept clean of black and yellow thrip it will thrive, but must be well grown to induce it to flower. It is a beautiful orchid, but I would advise amateurs not to waste their money in its purchase when there are so many other orchids that satisfactorily respond to ordinary cultural conditions. Epidendrum dichromum is another "miffy" orchid, though I have seen it grown well far oftener than bicornutum. My own experience with it induces me to say that it thrives better with only a little sphagnum about its roots, and needs to be placed near the glass in a basket or a pan. Mr. Milton in writing of Dendrobium densiflorum says it is an orchid somewhat difficult to flower. For that matter almost any Dendro-bium is a sly flowerer if not rested properly. Densiflorum I have always considered one of the easiest to manage, but it would make but one growth a season, and then stand in a cool house until spring.
It will easily stand a winter night temperature of 40°, though must not be dried off like nobile, otherwise it will shrivel. If brought into a warmer house as soon as the bloom shows it will rapidly develop its flowers. I have, however, known growers induce this orchid and its ally Thyrsiflorum to make three growths in a season, and then wonder at their failure to flower. No one can undertake to successfully grow Dendrobiums unless some provision is made for resting them. They need a long period of thorough rest, and Dendrobiums which are rushed into flower very early in the year are generally found, unless carefully handled, to be starting into premature second growth in August just about when they should be going to rest. I have seen scores of that lovely orchid Dendrobium Wardianum ruined by this exhaustive method of culture. Our friend Falconer of the Cambridge Botanic Garden will smile to find himself dubbed "Professor." It is astonishing how easily Americans can tack a handle upon a man's name, and complacently consider that they pay him a compliment when they do so.
Still Falconer knows enough to be a professor, and the title isn't so much out of place in his case.