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.
Among the many orchids now in bloom in my greenhouses I find none with flowers more delicately beautiful or more deliciously fragrant than those of the lovely Dendrochilum gluma-ceum. It is to be regretted that the plant is so seldom seen.
This orchid is found chiefly in the Philippine Islands on trees in moist woods at a considerable elevation above the sea. It is of very neat, compact growth, having handsome evergreen leaves about a foot in length. The charming sprays of white flowers which it sends forth in abundance are produced from the young growth; and if the flowers are not drenched with water, they last a month.
I consider this to be an orchid very easily managed. It should finish its growth in the spring or early summer, and then rest until the autumn; this rest being encouraged by gradually reducing the amount of water given until at last only enough watering should be done to prevent the bulbs from losing their plumpness.
When the long repose of the plant is at an end new growth begins, which is indicated by the appearance of small reddish-brown breaks, as they are called, at the bottom of the old bulbs. This is the time at which, if needed, repotting should be done, or if other plants are wanted, division should be made then.
In potting, the pot should be at least a third full of crocks or bits of charcoal, for good drainage; and for potting material I use peat and sphagnum moss chopped up and mixed together in about equal quantity, and of late I have added a little coarse leaf-mould to the mixture, with good results.
When shifting this orchid, as much of the old soil should be taken away as can be got at without injuring the young roots, and the fresh mixture should be put in carefully but rather firmly, so as to hold the plant securely in its place. A little fresh moss coarsely cut up may be arranged as a finish over the soil; care being taken that when all is done the neck of the plant and the moss should be about on a level with the rim of the pot.
A night temperature of about 60 degrees, with five or ten more by day, will suit Dendrochilum glumaceum well.
At first, say for two or three weeks after potting, the plant should have but a moderate supply of water; but when vigorous growth begins, too much water can hardly be given, provided that the drainage is good, and the water at least as warm as the air in the house.
As the growth gets to be pretty well advanced, the flower spike is thrown out; early in March this sweet orchid is usually in full bloom, and if the house is not unusually large, the exquisite perfume of the flowers will fill the whole of it - a perfume much resembling the fragrance of the white water lily of our ponds, but even more delicate and delicious than that.
After the flowers have faded, the new growth fills up rapidly at the base, forming new bulbs. Water must still be generously given, until the bulbs, by swelling no more, show that they have reached their full size. Then the watering should be gradually lessened, so as to bring on the summer repose mentioned above.
I have endeavored to make my directions so distinct as to enable any one with a warm greenhouse to grow this Dendrochilum satisfactorily, and feel sure that those who follow them and bring this beautiful plant into bloom, will thank me for calling attention to it.