"Descending snow, the golden leaf and sear, Are indications of old Time's career; The careful florist tends his sheltered plants, Studies their natures, and supplies their wants."
A few plants in the house are desirable, or even indispensable to the female portion of the family, or to invalids who have a taste for flowers.
A choice collection of plants, in the sitting-room or parlor, will add much to the charms of home; but as we often see them, weak, straggling, drawn up, crowded together, and infested with insects, they give pain rather than pleasure.
The clear sunlight through the window, is far preferable to a congregation of coarse earthen pots and saucers, with their sickly occupants. Judging from what we too often see, cultivators in parlors have very erroneous ideas of what is necessary for a perfect development of their plants. In fact, the plants are often killed with too much kindness; too much heat, too much water, want of light and air, or want of water, are the general causes of the sickly state of plants, to which may be added, unsuitable compost or mould. Saucers under the pots, if water is suffered to stand in them, are injurious, though necessary for the sake of neatness; never, therefore, suffer the water to stand in them, nor to be poured into them. The water should always be given on the surface, but never unless the surface is dry, and then for most plants, only in moderate quantities. Rain water only should be used, and that of a mild temperature, but not warm. When water is necessary, it should be applied in the morning of a mild sunny day.
Manure water may be resorted to, to stimulate the plants occasionally; but an over-dose may be injurious, if not destructive.
It is useless to expend time upon plants in rooms where the windows face to the north. South, south-east, or south-west exposures are the best; of course a south window is the very best, as it admits the sun all day.
Light is more important than great heat; indeed, plants ' are frequently ruined, by keeping the room excessively hot. The hot, dry air of most sitting-rooms of the present day is so injurious to the Camellia, (as well as to some other plants) that it can hardly be made to flower, as the buds will fall off long before the time of flowering. But I have seen as fine blooms of the Camellia in an old-fashioned sitting-room in the country, as I have in the greenhouse. The room was so cold at night that the thermometer would fall nearly to freezing, with a plenty of air from the old window casements during the day. A good temperature for the Camellia is a range of 40° by night, to 60° during the day. I do not mean to be understood that this should be the highest range in the sun; but at the back side of the room, in the shade. This temperature will also do for most plants; some will thrive better with a higher range, but their cultivation should not be attempted in a "sitting-room.
Where there is too much heat, without a proper exposure to light, the plants will spindle up, and make feeble, sickly growth, and if they produce flowers, they will be so weak and pale as to excite the pity of the beholder.
Unless the pots are turned every day, the plants will grow one-sided; every plant should receive as much light as possible.
A stand for flowers should have rollers attached to the legs, so that the plants may be readily turned round to the light, or wheeled into the middle of the room at night, when the weather is severe.