The Present Cut-Flower Production

Having made these important advances in cultural methods, it needed but the introduction of the epoch-making rose, Catherine Mermet, to place the rose in the first place among cut-flowers. This variety came at once into great popularity with the flower-buying public and was very profitable to the growers, thereby attracting capital to the flower business. The competition to produce and market the best quality of flowers elevated the standards in cut-flowers to a higher level. Although the introduction of Catherine Mermet did much for the flower business, it is as the parent of Bride and Bridesmaid that the variety is generally remembered. These "sports" have been the leading white and pink varieties for twenty years, and have been displaced only during the last five years by White Killarney and Killarney, although many claimants arose to dispute their leadership. These roses succeeded because they were profitable with every florist who could grow roses, and it is doubtful whether we shall ever see varieties so generally successful over so wide a territory. The market is seeking a greater variety among roses than it did during the years these roses held sway, but all this is advantageous to the rose specialists.

Next in importance to Bride and Bridesmaid and their successors, White Killarney and Killarney, is the American Beauty (Madame Ferdinand Jamain). This variety can be grown successfully and profitably only by growers who have special conditions. As the variety is still without a rival, it continues to be popular with the wealthy flower-buyers.

The American carnation may be regarded as the greatest contribution America has yet made to the floriculture of the world. The plant is unlike any type grown in Europe and its development is due to American plant-breeders, Dorner, Fisher, Ward and many others. During the last fifty years it has been improved in form, size, color and productiveness. Hundreds of varieties have been introduced and the progress has been so rapid that the best have lasted but a few years. Within the last ten years the American carnation has become popular in England, and now new varieties are appearing from over the sea. The United States census of 1890 shows that roses were first, carnations second, and that the two comprised 65 per cent of all cut-flowers. This relative standing has been maintained to the present time.

The development in chrysanthemums has been no less marked. From the old formal Chinese sorts, the popular fancy turned to the large informal Japanese kinds. Now a change to the single and pompon types is being experienced. The varieties of greatest commercial importance have been for the last ten or fifteen years of American origin. The English, French and, finally, the Australian varieties have led as exhibition flowers, but only an occasional variety has proved meritorious as market cut-flowers. (See Carnation, Chrysanthemum, Rose, and other special articles.)

At the present time the important cut-flowers are roses, carnations, violets, chrysanthemums, sweet peas, lilies, narcissi, orchids, lilies-of-the-valley, mignonette, snapdragons, marguerites and gardenias. A modern cut-flower establishment in the region of New York grows for its wholesale trade the following numbers of plants:

Roses.........

100,000

Chrysanthemums........

240,000

Carnations..........

45,000

Lilies..............(75000 for Easter)

150,000

Lilies-of-the-valley.........

300,000

Orchids...........

25,000

These are grown in a range of houses comprising 900,000 square feet of glass requiring 8,000 tons of coal, 300 employees, 25 horses, 4 automobiles, and a 250-acre farm with a dairy of 160 cows to suppy the manure required.

The past ten years have witnessed the development of the new winter-flowering types of sweet peas, and now these flowers bid fair to rival the violet and chrysanthemum for position after roses and carnations.

Orchids, particularly cattleyas, now are being grown by commercial florists for cut-flowers. Although of recent development, during the last ten or twelve years, all large establishments have an orchid department, while many smaller growers are specializing in their culture.

Lilies, through the means of cold storage, may now be had by forcing throughout the year. The varieties of Japanese longiflorums have largely supplanted the old Lilium Harrisii kind. Lilium speciosum varieties are now largely grown.

The antirrhinum is now being grown by several specialists and doubtless will yield varieties adapted to greenhouse culture.

The most important outdoor flowers for cutting are peonies, gladioli and asters. The peony is now a most important Memorial Day cut-flower, and many acres are devoted to its culture in regions in which the improved varieties mature their flowers early enough. By means of cold storage, flowers of certain varieties may be kept in good condition for as much as four weeks. The florists are enabled to have a supply of this flower for commencements, weddings, and the like, throughout the latter part of May, June and early July.

Gladioli are increasing in popularity as summer cut-flowers because of their keeping qualities under ordinary conditions. Not only are the white varieties useful, but the magnificent colored varieties are being used in large numbers for bouquets on dining-tables in hotels and restaurants.