'Plant behind plant aspiring, in the van The dwarfish, in the rear retired, but still Sublime above the rest, the statelier stand.'
Though the Tuberose is described usually as a half-hardy bulbous plant, and can be grown out of doors in favoured localities and the finest positions, there can be no doubt that it is a hot glass-house beauty of such rare excellence that no heated conservatory should be without it. The elegance of its three-feet stems, bearing the cream-white waxen blossoms, enables it to tower above the majority of greenhouse flowers, and gives the gardener the opportunity to alternate it with the blue leadwort (Plumbago capensis), or pink Oleanders, tall Liliums, and other of the usual background flowers, among such foliage subjects as Ficus radicans robusta variegata, Aralia elegantissima, Palms, and Musas. In fact, it is a great deal more valuable under glass than in the open.
When inexperienced gardeners speak of the plant they are generally thinking of the American varieties, called Pearl Tuberoses; but the African kinds are longer developing, consequently by potting bulbs of these from October to December, and the more familiar and cheaper Americans from January to April, the flowers can be possessed from autumn to late spring.
Bulbs should be placed singly in five-inch pots, or three in a seven-inch, in my opinion, though I have frequently seen plants blossoming in four-and-a-half pots of extra depth, or three in an ordinary six-inch one. They should be about two-thirds of their depth deep in the pots, the remainder of the bulbs protruding, and an admirable compost consists of equal parts of the best loam, thoroughly rotted cow-manure pulled into small pieces, and coarse roadside sand. The drainage crocking must be most carefully done, and on the crocks three or four little nuggets of charcoal should be laid.
The after-treatment can depend on the resources at command. Either stand the pots on cinders in a cold frame or unheated cool greenhouse, cover over with 3 or 4 inches of coco-nut-fibre refuse, keep just moist, and remove into a greenhouse of 55o when growth is vigorous, or plunge the pots in a box of damp fibre placed over a boiler or pipes in a glasshouse of 6o° to 70o, then stand out in the same house, or where the temperature is even higher, provide air enough, and water freely. But the slower method is, naturally, the safer.
The American Or Pearl Varieties will also succeed if the bulbs are potted in April, plunged in their pots in cinder beds, in the warmest spots of the garden, yard, roof-top, or balcony, and removed to the moderately warm greenhouse to blossom in October. The drawback to this is that 'moderate' glass-houses are mostly only warmed by sunshine in summer, and artificial heating not resorted to until November; a cold day, meaning a sudden drop in temperature, or failure to give heat soon enough in autumn, would ruin the Tuberose promise, by causing the buds to drop off.
When flowers are being made the plants need copious water supplies, and liquid manures twice a week.
The bulbs must not be kept after they are bought, as they will shrivel. Old bulbs are of no use, so it is a happy fact that they are quite inexpensive.
Before potting bulbs it is wise to trim them with a knife, removing all old roots, side shoots, buds and broken fragments; a little compost, or a dusting with charcoal, will prevent the wounds from bleeding.
Gardeners who have begun to grow Pancratiums are always loud in their praise, which makes the general neglect of them surprising and unfortunate. Perhaps they might become better known if given their other name of Mediterranean Lily. They are not lily-like, however, except in being white and fragrant; but then neither do they resemble daffodils, in spite of being known, in their smaller species, as Sea Daffodil. The greenhouse Pancratiums grow about 2 feet tall, are free-blooming, creamy white, have an exotic look that charms every one, considerable elegance of shape, and Pancratium fragrans has also a sweet scent.
Pot bulbs singly in six-inch pots, in March, 2 inches deep, but letting the covering soil be so lightly laid that it is nothing more than a mulch. Use a compost of two parts loam to one of old manure, and half a part of coarse silver sand. Stand pots in the greenhouse, in temperature not higher than 500 at first; a summer advance to fifteen degrees will suit well, but during winter the plants cannot do with more than the 500 again.
Watering should correspond with the growth and the temperature: rising gradually in quantity, declining gradually, and almost ceasing from December to the beginning of March. I do not let Pancratium bulbs ever go dry as stones. The plants should not be repotted for at least three years, and should receive liquid manure occasionally during the flowering season. Pancratium parviflorum is a very liberal bloomer.
The Calla, usually called the Arum Lily, is, scientifically, the Richardia Africana. Nobody need fear failing with it, if there is a moderately warmed greenhouse at command. The common compost, equally made of loam, leaf-mould, old cow-manure, and coarse silver sand, will do, but it is better to omit leaf-mould and double the quantity of loam.
There is no bulb, properly speaking - only clumps Ons Of Young Growth To Detach Arum in Need of Division.
with thickened stems or roots, but I have thought best to deal slightly in this book with so popular a 'Lily' - that is not a Lily at all, except by repute.
The amateur gardener should buy a plant ready potted, in March, put it in the greenhouse, water it liberally till it has bloomed, plant it out then, or plunge it in its pot in a sunny position in the garden; lift it in late August, or early September, and repot it. Single plants should bloom in five-inch pots, but specimen clumps can be obtained by potting on three single plants together in a seven-inch, and so on. Plants can be divided, propagated by rooted suckers, at the annual repotting season of August or September. There is a dwarf variety, and one with yellow-variegated foliage.