This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
When packing cuttings for shipping, moist sphagnum moss is used in which to pack the roots. Cut papers (newspapers are used mostly) into sheets about 10 by 18 inches. Lay a strip of moss about 3 inches wide across the middle of the paper lengthwise. Then lay the cuttings side by side with only the roots on the moss. When twenty-five have been laid on, begin to roll from one end until all the cuttings have been taken up. Then turn in the lower part of the paper and continue to roll until the end of the paper has been reached and tie around with any kind of cord. There is little difference in the returns from plants grown for cuttings and those grown for blooms, providing a fair market is found for each.
In shipping plants from the field, the soil is all shaken from the roots. The plants are then set upright in the shipping-cases with moist moss between the roots, a layer of damp moss having first been placed on the bottom.
Cultivate as soon as practicable after each rain, and in the absence of rain at least once each week. Shallow cultivating is recommended, just enough to maintain a loose mulch on the surface. Do not water carnations in the field under any consideration. Cultivation will preserve moisture in the soil without causing soft growth. Keep topping back the young shoots as fast as they begin to run up, thus building up a shapely bushy plant.
If plants are to be placed inside during the summer, the benches should be refilled and made ready for planting as soon after May 1 as possible. It will be a great help to get the plants under way on the benches before hot weather sets in. Fill the benches the same as for field-grown plants and set the plants where they are to bloom. Indoor culture is practicable and profitable only when the benches can be spared by early May. If a good market can be found for the May and June cut, they will more than offset the slight advantage derived in the fall from indoor culture.
If the blooming plants have not made an exceedingly rank growth, they may be cut back sharp early in May, cleaned off, mulched with long manure and grown on for blooming the following year. This should not be attempted, however, unless the plants are free from disease or insects and in good condition to break freely from the lower part of the plant.
Carnations are grown successfully on both raised and solid benches. Perfect drainage is essential, and must be provided for, if solid beds are to be used. There will be no difference in the quality or the quantity if both are properly handled.
By the end of June the old blooming plants will become exhausted, and refilling the benches to receive the new plants from the field will be in order. Clean out the old soil, whitewash the inside of the benches with hot lime and allow to dry before refilling with the new earth. Four inches of soil is enough, and should be of equal depth all over the bench, especially along the edges. The soil should be fairly moist, but not wet when the plants are set, so that the roots may draw moisture from the soil rather than have the soil draw the moisture from the roots. On the other hand, soil for potting or planting should never be handled while in a wet condition. If too dry at the time of filling the beds, water, and let stand long enough to dry to the proper state before planting.
Fig. 810. a. Desirable cuttings. b. Weak cutting, too high up on stem. c. Too low on stem.
Fig. 811. Strong cutting, well rooted.
Apply a fight shade of lime or whiting to the glass, to break the fierceness of the summer sun until the plants become established. This shade should not be too heavy, nor intended to darken the house, else a softening and weakening of the growth will result. Lift the plants carefully by means of a spade and leave a ball of soil about the size of the fist on the roots. This ball of soil will greatly assist the plant in reestablishing itself in its new quarters. However, no serious harm will be done should all the soil crumble from the roots without breaking the roots to any considerable extent. Set the plants just about as deep into the soil as they stood in the field and space them about 9 by 12 inches, if plants are of ordinary size. Larger plants may need more, smaller plants less space. It should be borne in mind that the highest quality may be expected only when the plants are not crowded.
After setting a few hundred plants, water each plant individually, saturating the soil thoroughly around each plant, but do not soak the whole bed until the roots become active and the surface of the soil has been worked over and leveled off, which will be about ten days after planting. Spray the plants overhead several times during each day to prevent wilting. Keeping the walks wet will also help to maintain a humid atmosphere until the roots are able to supply the plants with moisture. This transplanting is an ordeal during which the plants are unable to draw on the roots for support until they have taken a new hold on the soil, and wilting must be prevented by artificial means during this time. To allow severe wilting means loss of foliage and a loss of vitality, which results in inferior quality in at least the early part of the season.
As soon as the soil has been leveled off, and most of the weeds gotten rid of, the supports should be put in place. Large growers use one of two styles of supports, or a combination of the two. Wires run lengthwise between the rows, with cotton strings crosswise, placing two or three tiers one above the other to suit the height of the plants is extensively used. Another device is the carnation support, consisting of a wire stake with wire rings to surround each plant.