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.
Those who have had an opportunity to visit an Orchid house in England, where this tribe of plants is much admired, have beheld a display of curious and beautiful flowers that afford the highest gratification. As yet, taste in this country is not sufficiently advanced to induce the wealthy to make large collections of these plants; still, it is gratifying to see some fair collections around our large cities. As Orchids are not difficult to grow under glass, it does seem neglectful in those who seem to take an interest in horticultural pursuits to be silent on their cultivation. This class of plants cannot be grown with much success among other plants. They require a seperate house, but it does not require a large one to contain a fine collection of Orchids. The house should be neat, and must be strong, as many of the plants do best suspended from the roof in neatly made baskets. By passing an iron chain round the roof, attached to the rafters, the baskets can be secured to this chain by means of strong iron hooks, hung so that the leaves will be about two feet, from the glass. It would be advisable to plant some of the finest stone climbers so that they could be trained to the roof. Deciduous plants are best for this purpose, as they admit more light than other plants.
It may be taken for a rule that Orchids do best when grown in a light peat, but where this is not to be had, any other substance of a light, porous nature will answer. Those plants that should be grown in wire baskets and hung from the roof are the Stanhopeas, and all plants that throw their flower stalks down, as it were, from the basket, instead of growing upwards. I have known plants of this kind potted in common pots, but from their peculiar habit of flowering, nothing could be seen but their leaves until they were put into baskets and suspended.
Mllionia spectabilis, Lycaste Skinnerii, and all such plants as throw out small, creeping roots, do best in large, flat pans, five or six feet in circumference, and six inches high. By potting in the center in an elevated position, and by keeping the roots covered with moss as they grow, they will become fine specimens.
Erides odorata, Dendrobrium nobile, and plants of similar habits, must not be put nto pots or baskets, as they do best on rough logs of soft wood cut horizontally at me end, so that they will stand like pots. By placing the plants among the rough tumps, and covering the roots with moss, excellent plants will be grown of all those varieties that derive nourishment solely from the atmosphere.
Cattleya crispa, Zygopetalea, Mackayii maxillaria, aromatica, and similar stiff-•ooted plants, will do best in pots, but the pots must be half filled with potsherds. Dare must be taken not to use any thing in potting that will be likely to stagnate in he course of two years, as these plants will not require shifting as often as other lants. Nepenthes distillatoria, Rhodriguezia secunda are well suited to be grown by he pillars of the house, as they grow to a great height when they have room.
The thermometer in an Orchid house in winter should not be allowed to fall lower han sixty, and in summer there should be a covering of some light texture for a hade. It is not well to withhold water altogether in the winter, as some do, as many of the plants continue to grow, although not as rapidly as in summer. The plants hat require total rest are such as have reedy stems; these, after the plant has flowered, lie down, which is a sure sign that the roots should be laid down in some cool, dry place, until it again shows signs of growing, when it must be put in peat and supplied with moisture, as its growth may require.