Strange incidents occur continually in this pursuit, as may be believed. Nine years since, Mr. Godseff crossed Catasetum macrocarpum with Catasetum callosum. The seed ripened, and in due time it was sown; but none ever germinated in the proper place. A long while afterwards Mr. Godseff remarked a tiny little green speck in a crevice above the door of this same house. It grew and grew very fast, never receiving water unless by the rarest accident, until those experts could identify a healthy young Catasetum. And there it has flourished ever since, receiving no attention; for it is the first rule in orchid culture to leave a plant to itself where it is doing well, no matter how strange the circumstances may appear to us. This Catasetum, wafted by the wind, when the seed was sown, found conditions suitable where it lighted, and quickened, whilst all its fellows, carefully provided for, died without a sign. It thrives upon the moisture of the house. In a very few years it will flower. In another case, when all hope of the germination of a quantity of seed had long been lost, it became necessary to take up the wooden trellis that formed the flooring of the path; a fine crop of young hybrids was discovered clinging to the under side.
The amateur who has followed us thus far with interest, may inquire how long it will be before he can reasonably expect to see the outcome of our proceedings? In the first place, it must be noted that the time shortens continually as we gain experience. The statements following I leave unaltered, because they are given by Messrs. Veitch, our oldest authority, in the last edition of their book. But at the Temple Show this year Norman C. Cookson, Esq., exhibited Catt. William Murray, offspring of Catt. Mendellii x Catt. Lawrenceana, a lovely flower which gained a first class certificate. It was only four years old.
The quickest record as yet is Calanthe Alexanderii, with which Mr. Cookson won a first-class certificate of the Royal Horticultural Society. It flowered within three years of fertilizing. As a genus, perhaps, Dendrobiums are readiest to show. Plants have actually been “pricked out” within two months of sowing, and they have bloomed within the fourth year. Phajus and Calanthe rank next for rapid development. Masdevallia, Chysis, and Cypripedium require four to five years, Lycaste seven to eight, Loelia and Cattleya ten to twelve. These are Mr. Veitch’s calculations in a rough way, but there are endless exceptions, of course. Thus his Loelia triophthalma flowered in its eighth season, whilst his Loelia caloglossa delayed till its nineteenth. The genus Zygopetalum, which plays odd tricks in hybridizing, as I have mentioned, is curious in this matter also. Z. maxillare crossed with Z. Mackayi demands five years to bloom, but vice versa nine years. There is a case somewhat similar, however, among the Cypripeds. C. Schlimii crossed with C. longifolium flowers in four years, but vice versa in six. It is not to be disputed, therefore, that the hybridizer’s reward is rather slow in coming; the more earnestly should he take measures to ensure, so far as is possible, that it be worth waiting for.