This section is from the book "The Florists' Manual", by William Scott. Also available from Amazon: The Florist's Manual.
Dendrobium formosum giganteum, a beautiful variety, differs somewhat from the preceding, as it is evergreen and produces its beautiful, large flowers of pure white, with yellow blotched lip on the top of the stems, from two to five flowers on a spike. This variety needs but little rest and should certainly be grown in a basket and suspended in the warmest house. This is another sort that should never be over-potted, and must always be well drained.
Dendrobium Devonianum is a magnificent species, and is best grown in a basket. Give abundance of water in the growing season and freely syringe the foliage at least once a day in hot weather, to keep down the thrips, which is particularly partial to this sort. It is by many considered hard to grow, but by following the above directions you can grow it just as well as Wardi-anum. It flowers in May or June, and they last about two weeks in perfection.
Dendrobium densiflorum is another erect-growing species from India, and grows best in a pot, but can be grown in a basket in good fibrous peat and but little sphagnum. It blooms in April or May, the large clusters of beautiful yellow flowers being in form like a bunch of grapes. This species requires a long rest after the bulbs are grown, but do not allow the plant to shrivel. The flowers last about a week in perfection.
Of this genus only two species are useful to the commercial grower.
Laelia anceps; this can be well grown on a block of, hard wood with a little fibrous peat fastened at the back of the plant, which should be firmly fixed on with copper wire. It can also be grown in a suspended basket. Use a compost of good, clean peat, charcoal, and live sphagnum moss, and keep well drained. This is a grand species, with long flower spikes, which last a month if kept in a cool house. Give plenty of water during the growing season, which is from about April to November. It is a free bloomer and blooms in January and February. It will grow well in a cattleya house, but can be grown considerably cooler.
Laelia purpurata, a magnificent species from Brazil, in form resembles a cattleya, and requires about the same treatment. It can be grown in either pot or basket, has a grand spike of beautifully marked flowers, with crimson purple lip. Do not over-pot it and watch out for white scale. This species should be in every collection.
This genus is of easy culture and can be grown best in a cool or intermediate house. Pot in a compost of good, fibrous peat and a little sphagnum and broken charcoal. Give abundance of water during the growing season; in ract, this plant should never be allowed to become too dry at the roots, even during its season of rest.
The growing season is from about April to October.
Lycaste Skinnerii, a native of Guatemala, is undoubtedly the best species, blooming freely, as it does, during the winter months, with fine, erect, beautifully marked flowers of white, rose-color, and crimson, and they last a long time in perfection. Care should be taken to keep the flowers free from damp or they will soon become discolored or destroyed.
Lycaste cruenta is a very free flowering species from Guatemala, blooms about April, and has a very pleasing, aromatic odor. It requires the same treatment as the preceding.
This is a grand genus of orchids, probably the most interesting of all. They can all be grown in pots, with plenty of drainage and abundance of water during their growing season; in fact, they should never be allowed to become dry enough to allow the sphagnum to lose its beautiful, fresh green color, even in winter. They grow well potted in good fibrous peat, with a liberal top dressing of good, green sphagnum, which should be removed as soon as decayed and replaced by fresh; this sometimes has to be done twice a year. They delight in a cool, moist atmosphere, and plenty of air in summer, and in winter, when possible. A northern aspect suits many of them, as they do not like the sun, and should in any case be shaded from its direct rays. A good syringing with a fine rose twice a day in summer and once a day in winter on all bright days is very beneficial to them. A temperature of 45 to 50 degrees in winter suits them admirably, with but few exceptions. They should on no account be over-potted, and must be always well drained. They all flower from the side of the bulb. Watch for slugs and snails, as they eat the tender flower spikes very often. Cotton-batting placed about the spikes is a good preventive. They are also subject to thrips if allowed to get dry.
Odontoglossum Alexandra (crisp-urn), a most beautiful variety from Bogota, one of the best cool house orchids, has a very graceful spike of pure white flowers, blotched with irregular cinnamon spots. The plant blooms in fall and early winter.
Odontoglossum vexillarium (sometimes called Miltonia vexillarium); this grand species grows best in the cattleya house, but should have the direct rays of the sun kept from it. Elevate the plant well on the pot and use only the best fibrous peat and good, clean sphagnum, and plenty of drainage. This species comes from Brazil and blooms freely during summer and autumn under proper treatment. The flowers are large, rosy pink, and very distinct. They last a long time if kept free from damp.
Odontoglossum cirrhosum, a magnificent species, that is a native of Ecuador, and produces a very fine spike from twelve to eighteen inches long of beautifully marked flowers, pure white, with heavy cinnamon spots. It grows best in a cool house and should surely be in every collection.
Freshly Imported Cattleyas.