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.
There are but few who have special structures for the growth of this family. They are proverbially of easy culture, and many of them grow well under ordinary greenhouse treatment. Like other plants, they have a season of growth, and one of rest. While growing, they require a warm, humid atmosphere, and a dry and comparatively cool temperature when growth is completed. Were these simple facts kept in view, we should see them flower more profusely than when kept in continual growth, by maintaining a suffocating atmosphere, saturated with moisture as they are generally treated. We shall never see these curious plants come into general cultivation until the present mode of management is completely changed.
The absence of disease in Orchideous plants is to be accounted for by the plants never being exposed to damp and cold combined; dampness with suitable warmth, does no harm; moderate cold with sufficient dryness does no harm. Both are indeed indispensable conditions of life. It is only when the leaves become too cold while wet or over damp that the tissues decay, and the formidable " black spot" appears.
We are indebted to Mr. Isaac Buchanan, of New York, for a fine collection of flowers of these singular but very interesting plants. Dendrobium nobile, from China, is one of the best known, as well as one of the most beautiful. Epidendrum intellinum, from the mountains of Southern Mexico, is very pretty and quite rare. Phaitu grandifoliua, better known, perhaps, as Bletia Tankervilliae, an old and much admired flower. Odontoglossum cordotum from Guatemala, in Central America, rare and very beautiful. Myanthus barbatus, from Demerara, the most curious of all sent us; the bearded labellum gives it a very singular appearance. We are much obliged to Mr. Buchanan for the pleasure he has afforded us.
Mr. Robert Warner writes the Gardener's Chronicle that the surest way to kill orchids is for the gardener to try some such careless methods as these:
I. Treat them in a manner entirely different from that which is found suitable to all other plants. Thus, for example:
I. Keep them always growing. 2. Keep them always in great heat. 3. Keep them always saturated with moisture. 4. Keep the young shoots always wet. 5. Keep them always hotter by night than by day.
II. Knock out as many leading buds as possible when potting or blocking.
IV. Let wood lice, cockroaches and other vermin eat away their roots.
V. Be careful to place any especially fine and strong plant where it will have frequent drippings of ice-cold water from the roof. Should it live under this regime, crack a pane of glass and let it have a constant drip of cold water falling on, or a current of cold air blowing over it.
George Such recommends persons just becoming interested in the subject to purchase fine plants only. For instance, eight dollars or ten dollars for a Cattleya would give to most men more satisfaction than, the purchase of twenty Orchids of inferior quality. Another writer mentions that what in Europe is called one of the best Orchids - Cypripedium Villosum - belongs to a class which generally will grow in a cool greenhouse almost as well as geraniums or any common plant. One of these, at a public exhibition in Brussels, is spoken of as having been " the finest in the whole show; a grand specimen, beautifully bloomed with upward of fifty flowers, and the deserved recipient of the first prize."
The annual meeting of this society, to be held January 7 and 8, will be interesting, and elicit a great fund of practical information.
These plants are classed among the plant aristocracy, but in this free and enlightened country there is no reason why the owner of a small, warm greenhouse should not share the enjoyment of growing a few of these grand plants with the owners of large conservatories, employing educated gardeners to look after them. Many of the species are as easy to grow as a rose, and the flowers frequently last for several weeks, and in some instances for months. Another recommendation: many species flower naturally in winter, at which season choice flowers are most valuable. To those readers who have not grown these plants, we would advise to try a few. Get a few established plants; these should not require repotting for a year or more, by which time an observant cultivator will know something of the habits and requirements of the plants. Many species, after once rooted on blocks of wood, or, what is better, blocks of burnt clay, require no further attention except keeping moist and free from insects. Many varieties are scarce and dear, but others are to be obtained at moderate prices; but we would advise growers to avoid very low-priced Orchids, for they may depend there is a screw loose if these plants are offered at very low figures; and above all, avoid unnamed varieties.
Most of the best kinds are well enough known to dealers, and if there is any doubt, the low-priced purchaser will not receive the benefit of it. We have frequently known Schomburgkias sold for Laelias, and the very weedy Epiden-drums, which never had a name out of a botanical library, sold for fine varieties, in some cases named by the seller, and in others left to the discretion of the buyer. As such plants are generally the smallest bits, the new owner will probably never see it flower, and live in the expectation of some day astonishing his neighbors by flowering a grand novelty.
This is a good season to commence growing a few Marantas. These are capital plants for mixing with ferns in glass cases; in tact it is useless to attempt to grow these plants in a dry, light house, for all the varieties require shade from bright sun; and Veitchii, the best of all the species, must never have a gleam of sunshine. We noticed some years ago Veitch, of London, the introducer of this and many other fine new plants, had his plants in a hot north house, a fact which should be remembered by attempted growers in this country, for we do not recollect seeing a respectable plant of this species at any other place but our own. The old zebrina is very good in its way, and will stand more rough usage than any of the other varieties, and is very handsome when well grown; and regalis is also good, especially for a glass case. *
Poinsetta pulcherrima and Euphorbia jacquinceflora should be shaken out of the old soil, and potted into smaller pots, to be kept close for a short time, until the young shoots begin to grow, after which give abundance of air and full sun. These plants are usually grown out of doors during the summer months, but here we are so exposed to rough winds that we have grown them the last year or two in a light house, open day and night. It makes the shoots longer than they would be outside, but for cut flowers that is no special disadvantage. These plants dislike being either waterlogged or very dry; either will make the leaves turn yellow and fall prematurely. Some plant these things out, but with every care they receiye a great check in taking up in the autumn, and the floral bracts are not so large on the one or the spikes of bloom on the other.
Pelargoniums should also be in full flower. These require same treatment as Fuchsias, and unless cooler than usual, will not last long in flower. It will be difficult to get as good mass of bloom at one time as on those plants in flower last month. The house should never be closed during the flowering of Pelargoniums, particularly if the weather is very hot; the flowers drop much quicker. Any early flowering plants should be removed out of doors to a partially shaded place, and not overwatered, as soon as the flowers are past.
Moses will be soon* past for inside decoration and cut flowers. Any buds remaining on the plants will open better outside than in the house after this time. Any young plants requiring larger pots should be potted at once, and all the plants plunged in a light place in open ground, to be watered as required. The general stock of plants is best repotted in August, to prepare for winter work.
Begonias, both fine foliage and flowering varieties, should be potted into larger pots, as required, giving slight shade to the foliage varieties, and full sun to the flowering sorts. Parnelli is a capital addition to the small foliage varieties. If large pot specimens of Gala-diums are required, give the plants a good shift into large pots or pans, using soil light and coarse, with good drainage, these plants requiring abundance of water.
Permanent climbers on the roof may be allowed to grow rather wild and natural at this season, the partial shade being no disadvantage.
Myosotis Imperatrice Elizabeths This exquisite Forget-me-not is recommended by the Florist as a charming plant, and one of the very best for pot culture. It is also one of the best for cutting from for bouquets. It is readily increased by dividing the young shoots that the plants throw out after they have done flowering.