This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In the April number of the Gardener's Monthly, Mr. Taplin wants to know if "C. H. S." has had any experience in growing orchids under the shade of trees in the summer. About eight years ago a friend of mine went to Europe in June, and requested me to give a little attention to his plants until he came back in September. I found that he had put his orchids, about one hundred and fifty plants, on a long table to the north side of his house, where the sun only came for a couple of hours in the morning. There was a thick awning but this was only run down to keep off the heavy rains; all the rest of the time the plants were fully exposed. All were in pots or baskets, and were watered every morning and syringed overhead late in the evening. The lot came from Van Houtte and consisted of AErides, Vanda, Dendrobes, Laelias, Oncids, and Cypripediums. Two or three died, but I think they were in bad health when put out. When taken into the house about October 1st, all were in good health and very clean. They had not made as much growth as I have often seen made under glass, but it was very solid. At another time I was altering one of my greenhouses, and finding that some of my orchids were in the way, I put them out in the open air, where they were shaded from the midday sun.
I do not remember what species I put out, but Sobralia macrantha, some Cat-tleyas and Epidendrums bloomed very well, and all did well. I am sure that many of our orchids are too much shaded, and that growths are slender and soft. Any one who has handled newly imported orchids must have noticed that quite small bulbs of different species have bloomed, and this was no doubt owing to the fact they got more air and sun and were better ripened. The writer spent many years in the tropics, and rarely remembers seeing orchids growing in dense shade, and Cattleyas, Laelias and many Oncids seem to like plenty of sun. I have seen thirty days together in Brazil without a drop of rain, and the thermometer stood all the time from 65° to 90°, with hot, drying winds. All orchids coming from elevated points are subject to great change of temperature on the same day. I am sure I have seen a 50° change from 4 A. m. until midday. I have lost more orchids by keeping them too hot and damp than by dryness, and this is the cause that so many newly imported orchids are lost. We are so anxious to get them into growth that we often damp off the young growth, and it may be months before there is another new growth.
I believe that most orchids are better started on blocks of wood, with a little moss, and then put in baskets or pots when established.