1860, Orchids Growing On Irises

Gardeners' Chronicle And Agricultural Gazette, p.167, February 25, 1860

The Revue Horticole makes the following statement with reference to growing our wild terrestrial orchids, after adverting to the want of success that generally attends this operation we are informed that M. Reviere, the chief gardener at the Luxembourg, had accidentally discovered the secret of their management. he had ben trying to grow them in the same wat as they grow naturally, that is to say, mixed with grass and other herbage; and, like other people who had made a similar attempt, he found that his orchids, were quickly destroyed by the excessive growth of their neighbours' roots. Thus far he moved in the same groove as his predecessors.

He. happened, however, to espy one day a little orchid germinated upon a lump of Iris florentina which had been thrown away; having separated this part of the lump and carefully potted it, he saw to his great surprise a strong plant of Ladies'
Traces [Spirantlies autumnalis) push up. By some lucky accident a few seeds of the plant had been scattered among the Iris. Now this Spiranth was just one of those which had the most obstinately refused to be managed; but here it had overcame its caprice and found an acceptable companion.

At a later period he substituted Iris nana for I. florentina the smaller size of the former rendering it more suitable for Orchids ; and from this time forward the Spiranth grew stronger and stronger till it became finer than in its wild haunts.

This occurred eight years ago, and not only does the Spiranth continue to flourish, but M. Reviere states that he has since added to the Iris nana several other "rebellious species", and with complete success. We own ourselves at a loss to understand the reason why this conjuncture of orchids and lris proved so favourable. It is hard to believe that the one had any direct influence over the other. The only suggestion that occurs to us is that any other plant "with the same manner of growth would have done as well. Have these fleshy-plants the power of keeping the earth that lies between their crawlirg stems in precisely the state of dampness which Orchids require; or do the joints of such stems preserve the Orchid roots from
injury, at the same time allowing them to ripen thoroughly? Or is there any other solution of the problem?" "We should like to hear the opinion of such men as Dominy or William Barnes upon the subject. We should like still better to find that the French statement is tested by experiment; for it certainly is not to the credit of gardeners that while they infuse into Exotic plants a vigour unknown to them in a wild state, they are unable even to keep alive those which grow at their own doors.

For more information on historic Irises visit the Historic Iris Preservation Society at

-- BobPries - 2014-11-04
Topic revision: r1 - 04 Nov 2014, BobPries
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