This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
Auriculas claim the particular attention of the amateur from the beginning till the close of the month. Protection from storms of rain, covering from night frosts, watering, etc. must still be continued, and duly attended to, and every advantage taken to draw off the lights when it can be done with safety; for the more air and light the plants have at this season (so long as it be congenial), the stronger and more healthy will be the bloom. Guard against frosty, drying winds, put on the lights at such times, and give air by lifting them at the south side; well moisten the bottom of the frames between the pots, and keep up a humid atmosphere, to counteract as much as possible the effects of parching winds. Water the plants liberally once or twice a week, use the liquid manure mentioned below for seedlings, and at the same time sprinkle the foliage with it, but avoid touching the blooms; it is best applied in the evening, on closing the frames. Where Auriculas are grown on a stage, the under part should be well wetted now and then, the blooms will continue longer, and expand more freely under such treatment. The saltpetre water is best for this purpose.
As Auriculas produce their blossoms this month, every necessary preparation for flowering them in perfection should be prepared forthwith; for if the weather sets in warm at the beginning of the month, they will come forward rapidly. The temporary stage described in vol. i. p. 104 should be erected in the north aspect, for the handlights to stand upon. Wash and cleanse the glasses inside and out, and place them in readiness; be sure they are sound on the top, and free from drip. As soon as the buds begin to expand, they are in danger of injury by wet, and the plants should be immediately removed to the north aspect, and placed beneath the handglasses, out of the reach of danger, to finish their bloom. The flowers expand most freely when in a humid and still atmosphere; notwithstanding, air must be admitted, but not to the extent that will blow the blooms about. Let down the side-boards in calm weather, and close them when boisterous cold winds prevail. Covering up from night frost, watering, etc. must be as punctually attended to as when the plants were in the frames.
There are many little requisites wanting when preparing for an exhibition, such as cotton-wool, soft bass, small sticks, etc. for securing the blooms; provide them in good time, and have the boxes repainted or washed, as may be necessary.
Select a few healthy plants for seeding; they may be allowed the benefit of mild rain for a longer period than those in reserve for exhibition, or till the pollen is approaching to ripeness, which may be told by its presenting a granulated appearance; at which time the plant should be protected from wet, for if the tubes of the flowers are suffered to fill with water, and the pollen becomes saturated, its powers are much deteriorated, if not totally destroyed. Light dry breezes are beneficial to seeding plants; they shake the stems, and assist to disperse the pollen. Shade sufficiently to prevent the plants from flagging; give a free circulation of air, and a liberal supply of moisture. A western aspect is the best situation.