This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
Those plants which were first put to rest should be the ones selected for forcing into early flower; these may now be potted, cutting back their roots pretty hard, and using a small size pot, to be shifted on into larger as the roots find their way to the outside of the ball; spur them back, confining any branch that may not seem disposed to take the direction you would wish; place them in a temperature of 50 deg. by day, dropping to any point short of freezing by night. Seed should be sown this month in a similar heat. Of seedlings that did not flower last year, strike a cutting or two from each, destroying the old plant; by this means I save much room, as a plant thus obtained will bloom earlier, and in a much smaller pot, than the parent would have done. W. H. Story.
Whitehill, December 18, 1848.
In cultivating this useful flower, I begin by striking the cuttings about the end of August, using silver-sand and leaf-mould for the purpose, and placing them in a close frame or pit where there is a little bottom-heat. When the sun shines, I shade it for four or five hours during raid-day; and after the cuttings have been in for three or four days, I pull off the light for ten or twelve minutes every morning, in order to allow the confined air and damp to escape. As soon as they are rooted, I pot them off into 3-inch pots, in a mixture of equal parts silver-sand and leaf-mould. I prefer that mixture for the winter potting, for, being light and porous, it allows the water to pass off quickly. When potted off, they are replaced in the frame or pit; and as soon as they become established, I re. move them to a warm and shady part of the greenhouse; after hardening there for a week or two., they are moved to a more airy part of the house, where they remain until January, when they receive a little artificial heat, say from 40° to 50° during day, and from 40° to 45° during night.
When the roots make a fresh start, I shift them, some into 5-inch pots, and some into a size larger, according to the strength of the plants, using a mixture of equal parts silver-sand, turfy peat, and leaf-mould. In February they should have from 50° to 60° of heat during daytime, and from 40° to 50° during night. As the day lengthens, I increase the day temperature to from 60° to 70°, the night heat being about 5° less, maintaining a moist atmosphere at all times, with air both day and night when convenient. The plants should be kept as near the glass as possible, and should be shaded during bright sunshine. If they do well, they will require shifting about once in five or six weeks; and before the operation, the mould about the roots should be rather dry than wet. After they are shifted, give a good watering, and replace them in their old situation, keeping them close for a day or two. In shifting, be careful not to break the ball; for if that is done, it is a long time before the plants recover, and then it is ten to one if ever they make fine specimens.
In potting, 1 drain well, and place some moss (Sphagnum) over the crocks, then some of the roughest of the compost, which (after the January shift) consists of one part silver-sand, two parts turfy or fibry peat, and one part dry cow-dung, all well mixed together with the spade, and used without sifting. When I resided near London, I used mould from Wimbledon Common with as good success as the above mixture, but as yet I have found no such mould to equal that in this locality. As the season advances, I pot rather firmly; and I find it a very good plan to put some of the moss on the top of the soil; when potted, the roots seem quite at home in it, and it prevents the mould from being washed over the pot.
I use rain-water both for the soil and for sprinkling the plants overhead with. In the latter operation I am guided by the weather, and in the former by the wants of the plant. I also water about once a week with manure-water not over strong. I train on the single-stem system, allowing them to branch out right and left, never pinching the side-shoots back, except when one seems to take the lead of the others. By following these directions, I am certain every success will attend your labours.
J. M. PlERREMONT.