This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Although much has been written on this subject, still as there are so many failures made yearly, in what is really an easy matter, I venture to offer a few suggestions. Many growers prefer a three-quarter, or hip-roofed house facing south, but in my experience I find a span-roofed house, facing about east and west, better. With such a house we get the sun early and late, and keep the temperature moderate in the middle of the day with less ventilation, thereby lessening the risk of mildewing the roses by the cold draught, which it is almost impossible to avoid with the other style of house.
It is an important matter to have the border properly made; the drainage should be perfect; if this is not attended to the soil soon becomes soured. Roses require frequent 'syringing to keep down the " red spider," and plenty of water at the roots when growing, but it must have a chance to pass off quickly. If the subsoil is gravel or sand nothing more is needed but to make the soil, which should be good turfy loam, of the depth of about fifteen inches, adding two or three inches of well-rotted stable manure, and thoroughly mixing it with the loam. With a clayey subsoil it would be necessary to strip off the top soil and form a drainage of rough stones or other material at hand answering the same purpose, covering it with straw, or better, sods with the grass side down, after which proceed as above.
The application of a large quantity of green manure before the plants are established is probably one of the most fruitful sources of failure, and the use of a greater quantity than that before mentioned I would not advise.
For planting, bushes which have grown in eight or ten inch pots are preferable, the extra cost of such plants being amply repaid by having stronger bushes. If these are not to be had plants will do which have been propagated in February or March and kept growing until they are established in five or six inch pots, which they will be by the middle of June, and this I consider a good time to plant, or as soon after as convenient. When strong plants are used, I plant them about two feet and one-half apart in the row and three feet between the rows. If the plants are small, plant half the above distances, thinning out every other row, and every alternate plant in the remaining rows, after the first season. When planted the house should be shaded by painting the glass with turpentine with a little white lead and oil added. This does not destroy the paint on the woodwork, which is the case when lime is used for shading. Give plenty of air for a month or six weeks, leaving the sashes open at night, until the plants are well rooted in the new soil, which ensures a stronger "break" of young wood than if the house is kept close at first. After this, syringe, and close the house early every evening.
The border should now have a good mulching of stable manure, and after a time frequent waterings with liquid manure. When the nights get cool, start a gentle fire to keep off the mildew, and in winter the thermometer should be kept up to fifty-five or sixty degrees by fire heat.
No pruning will be required the first season, except to cut out the scrubby, blind shoots near the bottom which are apt to harbor "red spider." In fact, a rose bush, which has been forced into a soft, pithy growth, should never be headed in or cut back in the manner in which we would cut a hardy rose, as it never breaks strong. Whole houses of fine bushes have been thus destroyed, and I find it best when a house has been treated in this way, to dig up the bushes and replant with young vigorous plants at once. In pruning, the shoots which have ceased to give flowering wood should be cut clean out at the bottom, and the shoots of the later growth left entire, and if bent over and pegged down they will break finely from the latent eyes, on the lower part of the canes. I have practiced this method, which is an old one, for years, and find it works well, especially with old plants, which many growers throw away, to make room for young ones, while these at best take one year before they give as good a crop of buds as old plants treated in this way.
The varieties suitable for marketing are Saf-rano, Bon Silene, Isabella Sprunt, Yellow Tea, Marechal Niel, Souvenir de la. Malmaison, Niphi-tos, in about the order named, and a few others, which, however, are not grown largely by Florists, and are, perhaps, more suited to the wants of amateur cultivators, where variety is more the object than market qualities.
All of the above-named varieties may be successfully grown in pots, if potted, in three parts turfy loam and one part well-rotted manure, and shifted as the pots become filled with roots, with an occasional watering of liquid manure.
Should you deem the above worthy of insertion in the Gardener's Monthly, and care to hear from me again, I may drop you a few lines on some future occasion. [Please do. - Ed. G. M.]