This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
The flowering time of these plants is now on the decline, and in some localities quite over. I have ever found Auriculas make the strongest plants, and produce the finest blossoms, when potted immediately after blooming. They grow most vigorously, and, while pushing up their new hearts, at the same time put forth the principal spring roots. As soon as the beauty of the bloom is past, the old plants should have a thorough shift into clean pots and fresh soil. Shake out the greatest part of the old compost from between the roots (more particularly those that have an unhealthy appearance), and examine the tap-root. If long and aged, break off a joint or two, and leave only two years' growth. The plant will thrive much better than when encumbered with an old inactive stem. Dip the ends in pounded charcoal before replanting. The young stock large enough for shifting into full-sized pots will not require so much reducing; but they flourish better the greater the portion of fresh soil they have. In repotting, carefully divide the fibres, that the soil may run between them; as you add the compost, raise them with a small stick where they are crowded.
It is important that the compost be in a proper state of moisture, that it be neither too wet nor too dry; the best test I can give as a guide is, to squeeze a portion firmly in the hand; if it adhere together, so that, on pressing the lump with the fingers, it falls to pieces readily, it may be considered fit, and will not shrink from the sides of the pots. Auriculas put out for seed should not be disturbed till the seed is ripe. Repotting must be deferred till the month of August; at the same time a refresher at this season will be serviceable; give the plants a top-dressing without disturbing the fibres.
Any necessary work left undone last month should be immediately attended to, and the plants be neatly arranged in a northern aspect. The more Auriculas are exposed to the full benefit of light, the more healthy they will be. Shading from mid-day sun is also necessary, and should be attended to, from about eight o'clock in the morning till four or five o'clock p.m., according to the intensity of the sun's heat. Continue a liberal supply of water as long as the plants are growing freely, giving preference at all times to moderate showers, that do not dash the earth about and disfigure the foliage. Pick off decayed leaves, and slightly stir the surface of the soil: it is important to keep the surface open. Destroy destructive insects, the small green caterpillar, etc. The seed will perfect itself this month; gather the pods as they ripen, and keep them in a dry and airy situation, in a paper or linen-bag, adding a small piece of camphor, to preserve the seeds from the attacks of insects. By the last week in this month the plants will not require so much water; but a moderate supply must be given.
About this time the common aphis becomes both numerous and injurious, particularly among the unhealthy part of the stock; brush or blow them off at every opportunity.
Carefully attend to shading; and keep the plants as cool as possible. The soil must be continued at a moderate moisture till the end of the month, when the supply may be gradually increased, as the plants begin to shew signs of growth. Avoid as much as possible drenching rains; they are very injurious to Auriculas at this season, more particularly if sultry weather follow. Slightly move the surface of the soil now and then; it will be of great service. Pick off decayed foliage as soon as fit. Clear the weeds away while young; they should not be suffered to root deeply into the compost, for they exhaust the soil, and disturb the fibres of the plants when drawn. The green fly must be kept under; brush them off as soon as you find they make their appearance, and if found in the folds of the hearts of the plants, sprinkle a little fine silver-sand among the pests; it will set them in motion, when they may be more easily blown out. Some time during this month prepare a little compost for potting: you may find a few plants that will require shifting into larger-sized pots; and if the stock was not repotted in the month of May, provide enough for the whole, that it may be ready for the beginning of August.
Peckham. J. T. Neville.
If repotted this month, it should be but a partial shift, by reducing the ball of earth a little; for the less the fibres are broken or disturbed at this late season, the stronger the plants will flower in the following spring. Young plants may be improved by shifting them into larger-sized pots without breaking the ball: where this is necessary, it should be attended to. The whole stock should be gone over this month. Loosen the surface of the soil, and add a little fresh compost: this will greatly invigorate them. Give a more liberal supply of water; they have now commenced the autumn growth, and require more moisture.
Peckham. J. T. Neville.
Auriculas will now assume a more healthy appearance. Continue to remove the foliage as it decays, and keep the plants clean, and clear of disfiguring and destructive insects, the common aphis particularly. Moderate waterings must be given regularly, if the weather continues dry; and if wet, light showers will be preferable. See that the surface of the soil is open; slight stirrings are always attended with benefit, and should be repeated as often as the surface appears closed. If any of the plants intended for next year's exhibitions throw up for bloom, allow the stems to rise above the foliage, and then carefully rub off the buds from the crown of the stem without injuring the latter, if it can be avoided.
Peckham. J. T. Neville.