This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
The Chinese Primrose (Primula sinensis, or pramitens) is a common plant, yet perhaps hardly so much prized, or so well cultivated, asi t deserves to be; for though wanting the gaiety and variety of colour of the Pelargonium and other popular favourites, it is, when well grown, certainly handsome; but its principal value is derived from its blooming in winter, when flowers are scarce; and few are so useful for decorating the drawing-room or conservatory at that season, either singly, or in combination with other winter-flowering or forced plants.
It requires the simplest treatment; and perhaps the following account of a successful method of cultivation may be found useful to amateurs or others who have not hitherto paid much attention to it. Seeds may be sown in succession in May, June, and July, to furnish a supply throughout the winter and spring. Let them be sown in light sandy soil, and placed in a moderate hot-bed frame, or an ordinary greenhouse would do; as soon as the plants are large enough, prick off into other pots or pans as many as are required, and place them near the glass, to prevent them from becoming drawn; which, at any stage of their progress, would greatly injure them. As soon as they are fit, pot them singly into thumb-pots, giving increased air; when established, they may be placed in a cold frame, kept at first rather close, afterwards give more air, and shift progressively until they are in pots of the required size; 6-inch pots will generally be found large enough, except for specimen plants, which may be put into an 8 or 10-inch size. The soil must be gradually increased in strength, until it is composed of equal parts loam, peat, and leaf-mould, mixed with a little sand and fine charcoal. The pots must be carefully drained, as the plants require liberal supplies of water.
They may remain in the frame until the approach of frost, and may then be removed to the greenhouse. Those of the first sowing will be in flower by the beginning of October, the second by Christmas; those of the third or July sowing should be wintered in 5-inch pots; any premature flower-stems they may shew pinched out, and be finally shifted in the beginning of February. As there may be danger of the collars of the plants being affected by damp during dull weather in winter, they may occasionally be supplied with water from below.
In this way, and by giving abundance of light, air, and water, handsome plants, with richly-coloured flowers, may be produced; which, mixed with a few common things, such as Cyclamen persi-cum, Tree Violets, Lily of the Valley, Crocuses, Snowdrops, and Winter Aconites, all of easy cultivation, would make a basket at Christmas fit for any drawing-room.
Willey Park, Salop. W. Elliott.
NB. I had prepared this article before I had seen that at p. 45; but perhaps it may prove equally acceptable from entering more into details of management. - [It is so. Editor.]