This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
Than this, few plants possess more real interest; and it is as useful as it is interesting, for it continues to flower nearly the whole season through. It is so easily managed too, that it may be cultivated successfully in a greenhouse, a pit, or even in a window, if frost is kept from it; and then its curiously formed lovely red flowers, when once developed, create such a charming display, that any little care bestowed on it during its early growth is amply repaid. Nobody who loves flowers - and who does not? - should be without this valuable little plant, the training of whose tiny shoots over the slender trellis that is destined to support them affords agreeable employment for many an otherwise profitless half hour.
The mode of culture I pursue is as follows. As soon as the plants have done flowering, they are removed to the back of the greenhouse, or to any sheltered place most convenient, and are allowed to dry off gradually. When the stems have become completely dried up, and break from the bulbs, the latter are carefully taken out of the pots in which they have flowered, wrapped in paper, and preserved in a drawer, until the time arrives for their being started again into growth. This will be about the middle of September, when they will have grown a few inches. I then pot them directly into the pots they are intended to flower in. For bulbs from four to five years old, I use 11-inch pots, and smaller in proportion to the size of the bulbs.
The soil which I find to suit them best is a mixture of equal parts of turfy loam. and fibery peat, with a portion of well-decomposed cow-dung, and a sufficiency of silver-sand to make the whole gritty. These materials should be well mixed together, and used in a rather rough state. In potting, I employ clean-washed pots, and place about an inch and a half of broken crocks over the bottom, with a layer of moss to keep the soil from mixing- with the drainage. In filling the pots, I use the rougher portion of the soil first, and the finer as the pots become nearer full. This mode of proceeding secures a perfect drainage, which is of the highest importance'. My pots filled, and lightly pressed down, I insert my bulbs, leaving their crowns just below the surface; I then give a good watering with a fine-rosed pot, and keep them afterwards moderately damp; but I never allow water to stand in the pans, as they are impatient of much moisture at any time, except when in full flower, and then they require a rather plentiful supply.
I always fix the trellis on the pot at the time of potting, as it saves the roots from being injured, as would happen, if the operation was delayed to a future time. I carefully lay in the shoots as soon as they are produced, and fill every part of the trellis, which is brought over the front of the pot to within four or five inches of its bottom. This gives them a neat appearance; and a month before they come into full bloom, I contrive to have the shoots equally distributed all over the trellis; for when this is the case, the beauty of the plant is very much enhanced.
December 14, 1849. T. R.