This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
As this is one of the most beautiful and useful plants we have for rendering the greenhouse gay when its ordinary occupants are out of doors, a few words on its management may not prove uninteresting. I sow twice; once early in March, and again in the latter end of April, in pots, in a gentle moist heat. As soon as the seed-leaves are perfectly formed, I pot off into 3-inch pots, and place them again in gentle heat. When they have filled the pots with roots, I shift them into 6-inch pots, still keeping them in heat, and giving them plenty of air during the daytime, and a little at night, to keep the plants " stocky." They now remain until the pots become filled with roots, when I shift into 9-inch pots, in which I flower them. I then remove them to a three-light pit, in which there is no bottom heat, and keep them close for a few days while they are making fresh roots. Afterwards, I give plenty of air during the early part of the day, and shut up soon in the afternoon, with a sprinkle overhead to keep them clean and free from red spider.
I never allow them to receive the least check during their growth.
The soil I use is good turfy loam and well-decomposed cow-dung in rather a rough state. This suits them well. I supply water plentifully; and when the plants become large, and are coming into flower, I give them diluted manure-water. By thinning the flower-buds, I never fail to obtain fine blossoms; and under the above treatment I have always well-branched handsome plants.
The plants from the second sowing succeed very well without bottom-heat. As soon as they are removed from the seed-pots into 3-inch pots, I place them in a cold frame, keeping it close for a few days, and afterwards give them a good supply of air in the early part of the day, closing soon in the afternoon with a moist atmosphere, and repotting when they require it, as recommended above. As the plants become too tall for the frame, I raise it upon bricks, ultimately removing them to the conservatory when they come into flower.
The only fault of Balsams is the litter they make during their flowering season, on account of the blooms falling off; but fine plants, with large double flowers, and a good variety of colours, amply repay the little extra trouble that is required to keep them in order.
March 8th, 1850. T. R.