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.
We are indebted to our sister republic for some of the finest orchids that adorn our greenhouses, and I have found the orchids of no other country that have so many good qualities. One of their greatest recommendations is that they mostly grow in a moderate temperature and a drier atmosphere than the East Indian and most of the South American and Central American species. They are most of them easy of culture, neat and compact in habit. The greater part bloom in the fall and winter months, with handsome flowers, lasting from three to six weeks. They are also comparatively cheap, and quite a nice collection could be obtained for the price often paid for a dozen East India species, such as Vandas, angraecum, Phaloenopsis and Saccola-biums. A house ranging between 45° and 60° for all the months from November 1 to April 1, will do finely, and they then begin to grow, and will require more heat, but if they never felt a heat of over 75° they would be the better for it. The list of species is quite a good one, and probably more will be added. Mexico is strong in Laelias. There is L. anceps of several varieties, L. autumnalis. L. albida, L. furfuracea, L. acuminata, with its beautiful varieties, L. erubescens and L. peduncularis.
The beautiful L. majalis has proved under cultivation a shy bloomer, but this, I think, is because we do not meet its requirements. I am the more confirmed in this by an article in one of the English floral works. The writer mentioned seeing it bloom beautifully and profusely, by a person who made no pretension to any knowledge of growing orchids. We have only one Cattleya as yet from Mexico, the beautiful C. citrina. C. Skinnerii comes from Guatemala, and may also be found in the south of Mexico.
I received a letter from a collector in Mexico, who writes that he had discovered a new species of Cattleya, but gave no description. Among Oncidiums from Mexico that are desirable, we may mention O. Cavendishii, O. Barkerii, O. leucochilum, 0. reflexum, and O stelligerum. These are all fine, as are also 0. incurvum and O. ornithorhynchum. There are several others, 0 hastatum, O. unguiculatum, 0. cruntum, and one or two of the same style of growth as 0. cebolleta. Tricopilia tortilis and T. Galeot-tiana, and probably other species, are Mexican.
Mexico is also quite rich in Odontoglossums, O. cordatum, 0. maculatum, 0. Rossii, 0. Ins-leyii, O. citrosmum, O. Cerventesii, O. Londes-boroughianum, O. nebulosum, and several others. Epidendrums abound in this country, and though they cannot be recommended as a class, we may mention P. nemorale and E. N. majus, E. erubescens, E. vitellinum, E. brassavolse, E. macrochilum , and E. myrianthum, as beautiful, and fit to go anywhere.
We have from Mexico, Chysis bractescens, C. Limminghii, and C. lsevis. This is often sent as C. aurea, but the C. aurea comes from Venezuela, and is quite different.
Lycaste aromatica, L. Deppei and L. cruenta, are neat, compact plants, and when well grown give a great many flowers. There are also some beautiful Stanhopeas. These are not much sought after, as the blooms do not last over three days. Although the flowers are fugacious, the Stanhopeas are great favorites of mine. The flower stems come through the bottom of the basket, which should be quite open. The flowers are the most curious in the whole orchid family, - large, often six inches in diameter, and of the most delicious odor. They are mostly August and September bloomers, but at this date (December 16) I have three plants in bloom, S. oculata, S. Martiana, and one from Caraccas. All the orchids mentioned above, except the Stanhopeas, bloom between November and April. Occasionally from some error of treatment, one or two may bloom a little sooner or later. If to these be added a few other winter-blooming species, not Mexican, quite a nice collection can be got at a moderate cost. To them I would add Lycaste Skinnerii, Calanthe vestita, in variety.
C. Trianae, Cyprepedium insigne, Dendrobium nobile, D. crassinode, D. Pierardii, and D. Wardianum, Zygopetalum crinitum and Mackayii. All these are winter bloomers, and not very costly, except D. Wardianum. Most beginners make a great mistake in buying too many species. It is far better to have three or four, or even a dozen of a good, free blooming species, than a dozen species, some of which may be good, and some poor, or only slightly different. There is often as much variety to be found in the same species as between one and another oft misnamed species. I have about a dozen and a half Lycaste Skinnerii, and no two exactly alike ; and the same is true of Cattleya Mossiae, and many other orchids.
All the Mexican Laelias I find do well with me on boards, and red cedar the best. It will last fifty years if well seasoned. Most persons use too small pieces. It is far better to take pieces 8 x 10 inches, or even larger, and secure two, three, or more plants on it. This gives more room for the roots. I believe the roots of some Cattleyas would grow two feet if they had wood to cling to, and as their roots are perennial, it is of great importance to have as much good roots as possible, as laterals will break from the old roots. Of course, orchids on wood require more attention, but being suspended, the roots are less liable to be eaten off by insects or rotted off, as in pots. They require more watering, and it is good to dip the blocks in water twice or three times a week during their growing season. Our nearness to Mexico gives us great advantages in getting orchids from there, and quite a number have been imported in the last few years. Some have been received by amateurs and dealers direct from the collectors, others have been sent to Messrs. Young & Elliott, New York, the flower auctioneers, for sale.
Some fine importations have been sent (to Messrs. A. Rolker & Sons, New York), by Messrs. Droege & Co., Mexico. This firm (Droege & Co.) appear to have taken great pains in sending their orchids, and they were mostly in splendid condition They have printed wooden labels attached to the plants, giving a short description of flower, climate and height above the ocean of the home of each species, which throws considerable light on the way of handling them and time of blooming. If other collectors in South America and Central America would take the same pains, it would give us better information than we can get from books, and pay them for their trouble. There are many other desirable Mexican species. Arpophyllum, Mormodes, Cycno-ches, and there is a beautiful Cypripedium, C. Irapeanum, flowers large, pure yellow, lip dotted crimson, three or four flowers on a spike. I have not seen it, but from the description it must be one of the finest cypripediums.