This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The Plant Stove is an accommodation for intertropical plants, the real beauty of which far excels those of cooler regions; and, as this structure is destined for the culture of such plants as grow in climates that are continually warm, a greater command of heat is necessary than is sufficient for the ordinary greenhouse, the inmates of which are not injured even though the thermometer should sink occasionally near to the freezing point. We may admit that there are many plants indigenous near the equator that will flourish, and only require protection, in the winter, from extreme frost; but such are, without exception, from elevated table lands, or high up in the mountains, where the temperature is very different from what it is near the level of the sea. By stove plants, then, is meant those which are naturally found in the lower tropical regions, where an even and high average temperature prevails throughout the year. If we take, for example, that part of the Indian Archipelago, from which many of our finest stove plants have been brought, we find that the extreme range throughout the year does not differ in the shade more than about 15°, and exposed to radiation only amounts to some 25°, and as the highest seldom exceeds 86° and the lowest 60°, we have a good index for the extremes that may be safely accepted in the Plant Stove. So far of artificial heat and a general temperature; but we may make some exception in the case of sunshine during the summer months, when the thermometer may be allowed to rise to 95° with benefit.
It will be readily seen then, from this, what is the main difference between the Stove and Greenhouse, in one or the other of which may be grown suecessfullj all plants that may be introduced, and are too tender for outdoors in our northern climate. The following genera are a few that are suitable for this department: Torenia, Strelitzia, Justicia, Medinella, Melastoma, Pentas, Pitcairnia, Pleroma, Russellia, Stephanotis, Allamanda, Plumbago, Ixora, Gesnera, Achimenes, Gloxinia, Begonia, AEschynanthus, Solandra, Aphelandra, Ardisia, Bignonia, Clerodendron, Dipladenia, Hexacentris, Hoya, Ipomoea, Quisqualis, Oaladium, Cissus, Croton, Dracaena, all the tropical Orchids, and many other novelties, including Ferns and Lycopods.
The Dry And Moist Stove have been alluded to. The difference between the two is in the peculiar dry or moist atmosphere that is required for various families of tropical plants at all times; or, as in the case of some, at different periods of their growth. For example, most of the succulent plants, such as Cactea, Stapelia, Aloe, Ac, are found indigenous to dry regions, sandy deserts, rocky elevations, and such like places. These require the Pry Stove, if tropical. While those which are found in marshy grounds and low situations, often among dense forests, and other situations of like character, are better suited in the Moist Stove. This house is also the home of the beautifully grotesque family of Orchidaceae, in the growing season; while the former will concentrate the previous development during the period of rest, and thereby insure a certainty of flowering. Here, also, may be located, in suitable compartments, such aquatics as Victoria Regia, Nelum-bium, etc.
The Forcing Pit is an auxiliary or helper. It ought to be built similar to the Cold Pit, with the addition of a good command of heat. The object in this house is the forwarding of flowers, and as an accommodation for many tender plants, which are, during a part of the season, unsightly, from their nakedness, or perhaps dormant state. In any establishment of any pretension, the Forcing Pit is the most useful structure on the place, as it not only becomes a receptacle for plants, until they are in full bloom, and fitted for display in the other houses, but also a hospital for any that may be sickly or out of health. It is also useful for propagation, and may be turned to a great number of useful purposes.
The above few remarks only embrace a superficial explanation of the va-rious structures known as plant-houses; but at some future time I may treat the subject more comprehensively, if you think it of service.