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.
Not one should be discarded until it has bloomed.
The seedlings should be potted as soon as the first pair of character-leaves appears. Later on they may be shifted into larger pots and bloomed, or they may be planted in the field and marked as they bloom and only the promising ones housed in the fall. The selecting of the plants for further trial is of the very greatest importance and requires a thorough knowledge of the subject. There are many points in the make-up of a first-class carnation, and a combination of as many of these as is possible to get in one plant is the object sought. No carnation has ever been found which was perfect in every way. The hybridist must be able to judge correctly as to the relative value or loss represented in certain characteristics shown by a seedling plant. This discrimination between the desirable and undesirable calls for the clearest judgment, and a valuable variety might be discarded through the failure of the grower to see its good points.
Among the seedlings will probably appear variety of colors, shapes and sizes of bloom, different types of growth, perfect in some respects and faulty in others. From these the hybridist is to select those which most nearly represent his ideal of the perfect carnation. This ideal should be of a pleasing shade of color, pure in tone, so as to hold when the bloom ages. The form should be symmetrical, resembling as nearly as possible a half sphere with just enough petals to fill the bloom nicely without crowding. The petals may range from the smooth-edged, as seen in Fig. 817, to the deeply-serrated, as seen in Fig. 818. The texture of the petals should be such as will resist bruising. The odor should be strong clove. The size should be as near 4 inches across as possible under ordinary culture. The calyx should be strong and large enough to hold the petals firmly at all stages of development. The stem should be 30 to 36 inches long, and strong enough to hold the bloom erect. The plant should have a free-growing habit, throwing blooming shoots freely after a shoot is topped or a bloom is cut. It should also be healthy and diseaseresistant.
The American Carnation Society uses the following scale of points for new varieties:
Fig. 817. Carnation flower Pink Delight, showing nearly entire-edged petals.
Fig. 816. Cross-section of carnation flower showing reproductive organs.
Fig. 818. Carnation flower Radiance, showing deeply serrated petals.
The most uniform results have been secured by confining the breeding to separate colors; as, for example, crossing white with white, red with red or crimson, pink with pink, and so on. This method has been proved to produce the largest percentage of self-colors, which are considered the most valuable commercially in this country.
New varieties are frequently secured by sporting or mutation. A variety of a certain color may produce a bloom of another color, and by propagating the cuttings from the stem which carried the odd bloom a new variety is established. The securing of a new variety in this way is purely a matter of good fortune, as no method for causing the sporting is yet known.
Leading books on the carnation are: "The American Carnation," by C. W. Ward; "Carnations, Picotees and Pinks," by T. W. Sanders; "Carnations and Pinks," by T. H. Cook, Jas. Douglas and J. F. McLeod; "Carnation Culture," by B. C. Ravenscroft. The last three are English. a. F. J. Baur.