This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
At the regular monthly meeting of the New York Horticultural Society, held at the rooms of the society, on November 5th, 1878, Peter Henderson, Esq., offered a premium of $25.00, to be given to the person who should write and present the best essay on "Rose Culture for Winter Blooming." John Henderson, C. L. Allen and Jas. Dean, Esqs., were appointed a committee to whom essays should be presented by competitors, and who should decide as to the merits of the several essays, and report the result to the society. At the annual meeting of the society in December the committee made the following report:
"The committee appointed to report on Rose Essays for Mr. Henderson's special premium, are unanimous in giving the award to Essay No. 3. John Henderson, Jas. Dean, C. A. Allen".
The secretary announced Wm. Bennet, florist, of Flatbush, as the author of Essay No. 3. The report of the committee was concurred in, and the essay was referred to the finance committee, with instructions to print.
This is done by means of cuttings and budding. When you are striking cuttings to plant out in a house, or to grow on in pots, you should always select your cuttings from the best and strongest wood that you can get; for as sure as you make a bad cutting a bad plant is the result. Strike as early in the season as possible. After the cuttings are once rooted never let them suffer for want of pot room or water. No matter whether they are to be grown on in pots or planted out in the border they should never be allowed to become stunted.
The border should consist of a good tenacious loam; if old sod so much the better. No manure whatever should be intermixed with the soil. The border should be thoroughly drained by means of brick-rubble, broken stones, or rough material of any kind, to the depth of eight or ten inches; cover the drainage with sod, grassy side down. The soil should be at least twelve or fifteen inches deep. The border should be when finished from twenty to twenty-four inches above the level of the floor. I have never seen good roses where the border was made below the level of the floor.
Take young, vigorous plants that are rooted in December or January, Never, in any case, plant old plants if young can be obtained.
Bonsilene, Saffrano, Sprunt, Cornelia Cook, La Sylphide, Douglass, Niphetos, Madame Falcot, Pearl des Jardins and Marechal Neil.
If house and all things are ready for operations, I would plant on the first of March. For treatment of young plants after planting, say the plants are all set out in the bed from eighteen to twenty inches apart. I first of all top-dress the whole surface of the bed to the depth of two inches with good stable manure, about half rotten. From this time I syringe the young plants twice every day, provided the day is clear. Water sparingly at the roots until the young plants are well established in the now soil, and as the heat of the season advances give water freely - a good, thorough soaking once a week, none of your homoeopathic doses. If the above directions are closely followed, by the first of September you will have a house full of fine young roses from two to three feet high.
If there is one thing the rose delights in more than another it is plenty of water, and especially when it is growing freely frequent waterings of manure water. When the crop is coining in give less water than at any other time, for the reason that it improves the color of the buds. Drying at the roots in summer time is practiced by a great many growers. My experience teaches that this is radically wrong and absurd in the extreme. I syringe freely once or twice a day. according to the brightness of the weather, except when the crop is in, then I withhold the moisture to a considerable extent, as I am convinced too much moisture at this period causes the buds to come pale and washy looking.
This, in most cases, is badly done. In fact you might say it is not done at all, and about as little understood. The first season the young plants will require little, if any pruning further than cutting out the small useless sprays. By the end of the second season the plants will be large and strong, provided all has gone on right; a judicious pruning will be necessary. In pruning it requires a practiced eye to discriminate readily which shoots to take out and which to leave. In doing this keep an eye to taking out all the weak and useless wood; then shorten back the good strong wood, but be careful not to deprive the bushes of all their foliage, for as sure as this is done a weak and puny growth will be the result, with buds as miserable as the foliage. At one time I used to deprive my plants of all their foliage by severe pruning. Experience, however, has taught me that this is a wrong practice. For the past three seasons my rose houses, after pruning and tying down, have been as green as in the depth of Winter. The result has been a fine break of vigorous young growth, and buds as fine as could be desired.
The temperature should never range higher than from 50° to 55° degrees, Fahrenheit, by night. In day time from 75° to 85° or 90° with sun heat, with plenty of air does no harm.
This should be done with great care, keeping a sharp eye to the sudden changes that take place outside, so as not to let your plants receive any sudden check ; but give : air at all convenient opportunities. On some days in the winter season when there is a strung wind blowing, it is almost impossible to give air. In preference to admitting the cold air, take the hose and give them a good syringing.
I would pursue the same general treatment as laid down for the other kinds as to border, manure water, ventilation, etc. In pruning, however, you should aim to get plenty of fine young shoots to lay in, cutting out all old scrubby wood each year and laying in new shoots. The wood of the Neil requires to be thoroughly ripened before starting. Be sparing of fire heat till they are fairly under way.
The best method of treating Jacqueminot, is to plant them out of doors in a bed of the size you intend to cover with glass. Let them grow for at least one year in the open ground before building your house over them. The house should be built with, sash, so that you may strip it at pleasure, leaving the plants exposed to the open air till the time for starting. In starting the Jacqueminot house, be cautious not to give too much fire heat. Commence with a night temperature of 45° of Fahrenheit for the first two or three weeks, then increasing to 50° as the young growth advances, giving plenty of air at all convenient opportunities.
To do this successfully it needs extraordinary care and labor in comparison with roses planted out in the open border. To have fine plants for blooming in the winter, you must strike your cuttings as early in the season as possible. From the time the cutting is rooted until it has filled an eleven or twelve-inch pot with roots, it should never be allowed to become pot-bound or stunted. Shift on all through the summer months, doing this as often as the young roots show through the soil, until your, twelve-inch pot is well filled with roots, which will be by the middle of September. If all has gone on right, less water should now be given so that the wood may have a chance to ripen, taking care not to let the plants suffer for the want of water. About the first of October they should be removed to the green-house, giving them plenty of air at all times until the nights become cold and chilly, then the house should be closed.
I question if there is any one who has grown rose buds for the market who has not had failures, as well as success. From my own experience, and from what has come under my personal observations, I here note what I consider the causes of so many failures. Over-manured borders badly drained, produce an unnatural pithy growth, which never becomes ripened. Such a border in less than two years, will become a putrified mass of matter, in which no rose bush can possibly flourish. Drying the border in summer time should never be practiced. More failures, probably result from this than any other cause. In the first place, you get no growth of wood to succeed that which you have forced the life out of the previous season; for, in the fall when you start your houses, your rose bushes have not a root or leaf to make one, they have all dried up for the want of water, the border and roots are full of fungus; then you commence to swelter them by a high night's temperature and drench them with lots of water, and you then wonder what is the matter with your roses.
You might as well expect a man to live forever with consumption, as for a rose bush to live and flourish under such conditions.