The most important requisite, for the successful cultivation of plants, is to have a stock of suitable compost for the various kinds. A plant in unsuitable mould cannot be healthy. The following materials should be obtained:

1. Good garden mould.

2. Mould from decayed turf, from a pasture or field.

3. Mould from decayed leaves.

4. Decomposed stable, or cow-yard manure.

5. Sea or river sand, free from salt.

6. Peat, from the meadows, that has been exposed to frost.

7. Coarse sand or gravel.

8. Broken flower-pots, charcoal, or oyster-shells.

9. Old mortar or plastering.

Garden mould will not be needed if there is a supply of fine decayed turf mould, and will be wanted only in case of necessity. Turf mould, for a basis, is probably the best ingredient for a compost for plants. The broken pots, charcoal, etc., are used for drainage, to be placed in the bottom of the pot at the time of potting. About one-fifth of the depth of the pot may be. filled with the broken up drainage materials. A little meadow moss over this will prevent the mould from washing down.

Leaf mould is not always to be obtained; but it is a precious ingredient in a compost, and many plants thrive much better in it than in anything else. It takes a long time to decompose leaves so as to be suitable for compost.

To have compost in perfection, the different ingredients should be mixed in advance of the time when they are wanted. They should be thoroughly mixed together, and put in heaps, in the shade or under cover, and turned over every five or six weeks during the summer, as it will be wanted in August or September, when the plants are repotted.

Compost for Camellias, Pelargoniums, Roses, and most plants may be made of the following ingredients:

1

part

river or sea sand.

1

"

leaf mould.

1

"

well rotted manure from old hot-beds.

1

ft

peat.

2

Cf

turf or garden mould.

Or, if no leaf mould,

1

part

sand.

2

"

well rotted manure.

1

"

peat.

2

"

turf or garden mould.

If there is no peat, substitute turf or garden mould.

For Cactuses:

2

parts

coarse sand.

3

"

leaf and turf mould.

1

"

peat, and a little broken plaster.

For Azaleas, Ericas, and most New Holland plants:

4

parts

peat.

2

"

sand

1

"

garden or turf mould.

1

"

leaf do.

After the plants have done flowering in the spring, and as soon as the frosts are over, the pot should be plunged in the ground in a shady place, and watered sparingly during the summer. The great object during the summer will be to keep the plants at rest, so that they may bloom with greater vigor in the winter. They must not be suffered, however, to dry up, excepting the bulb-pus roots; these may remain in the shade without water, as the moisture would start them prematurely.

"Washing the leaves of Camellias, Oranges, and some other plants, with a soft sponge, gives a healthy look to the plants, and is of great service to them.

Geraniums, or Pelargoniums, should be cut in very-close, as they will make much finer plants, and start with greater vigor, and give a greater profusion of bloom, than if this were neglected. It will not be necessary to repot the Roses quite so early as the Geraniums, Camellias, and some other plants; they may be kept out much longer and exposed to severe frosts before they are potted. The branches should then be reduced to three or four buds, and the pots stowed away in the cellar for a couple of months.

Fuchsias may be treated in the same way. "When brought into the room, in January, they will grow with great vigor, and give a finer bloom than if started earlier.

It is better to keep most of the plants rather cool during the months of November and December, and all the hardier kinds should be kept out of doors as long as possible. A slight frost will not injure a great majority of parlor plants; but a hard frost, although it might not destroy them, would weaken them very much. Geraniums, Heliotropes, Begonias, Salvias, and others of like tenderness, should be housed as soon as even moderate frosts are expected.

Insects

There is a variety of insects which infest parlor plants, and, unless looked after rather closely, will destroy their beauty. The green fly is a great pest to parlor and greenhouse plants; but is easily killed in the green-house, by filling the house thoroughly with tobacco smoke at the close of.the day, and then shutting it up tight for the night. For parlor plants, it will be necessary to put them in large boxes, or barrels, and fill them with smoke, and cover up tight. This will effectually destroy this destructive and disgusting insect. By immersing the plants in a tub of soap-suds they may be freed from the fly. To do this, a piece of pasteboard should be made to cover the top of the pot, cutting a side slit for the stem; then, holding the band over the pasteboard, the pot may be inverted without disturbing the mould, and, by the immersion, the foliage will be effectually freed from the insect.

The red spider may be detected by examining the leaves, which look yellow and sickly; but they are so small it will require good eyes to see them. This minute, ugly customer is not so easily got rid of as the green fly. Plants from neglected green-houses are often infested with it. The most effectual way of destroying this insect is to give the plants repeated syringing with sulphur and water, or a solution of whale-oil soap water. The plants can be taken out of doors in a mild day, and the operation performed upon them, remembering that it is important to syringe the under side of the leaf as well as the upper side, as the red spider will be found in greater abundance there.

There is another insect more difficult to get rid of than either of those named. It is the mealy bug, which may be found in the axils of the leaves, and on the stems of Oranges, Camellias, Heaths, etc. It looks like little specks of cotton; but, upon picking it off, a disagreeable, ugly-looking insect will be found imbedded in this glutinous, cottony substance. It is sometimes very troublesome in graperies, and requires much care to get rid of it. It is only to be destroyed by industriously picking it off.