This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
To grow flowers well, good potting is essential; but few know in what good potting consists. The hole in the bottom of the pot is to let out the water; but few take care to keep the earth from choking up the hole. The bottom of the flower pot is often as fiat as a pancake, and, when set on a flat board, there might as well be no hole in the bottom. A perfect pot is convex at the base. A piece of old pot, or some stones should go over the hole, and some moss or rooty material to keep the earth from getting in among the stones. Then the soil should have sand with it, as this keeps the whole mass porous, and the water is enabled to pass rapidly away. It is best to use soil for potting rather dry, and so dry that a lump will powder when crushed; then it can be pounded firmly in the pot. and the more it is pounded the more air spaces there will be, and this is what perfect potting desires. It wants air to the roots - moist air, to be sure, but still air; and a soil in which water does not drain rapidly away, has no air.
If plants are not growing they do not need much light. Such plants can be put in the shadiest places, but if they grow they must have light; and if flower is desired, then the light ought to be sunlight.
Oranges and Lemons will require the coolest part of the house, and to receive no more water than will just keep them fresh.
The most interesting tribe of plants at this season of the year is, undoubtedly, the Camellia. The buds frequently drop off before flowering; this may spring from three causes - from the plants being kept too dry, or from the drainage being bad. whereby the soil becomes sodden, or from the house being kept too warm by insufficient ventilation. As the leaf-buds burst, the plants are benefited by occasional syringings; and, indeed, an increased supply of water altogether, in order to accommodate the demands of the young growth.
Cinerarias will soon be the chief attraction. The least frost kills them, yet they will not do well if kept in a high temperature. They love moisture, yet are very impatient of damp. No plant is more improved by the use of charcoal in potting than this.
Hyacinths that have been out of doors, or in any reserve place for protection, may be brought in a few weeks before wanted; they should not have much heat, light or moisture for a few days, and then only gradually.
Carnations and Pinks are much admired when grown in pots and flowered there early. They do not flower well if too much warmth be given, but the usual temperature of the greenhouse will bring them forward a month before they can be had out of doors. Whenever the roots make their appearance through the bottoms of the pots, they should be shifted into a size larger. They require very little water, and love the light, and whatever manures are used to enrich the soil should be thoroughly rotten. The Pansy, on the other hand, delights in half-rotten, strawy manure and turfy loam. If a quantity of seedlings have been raised in the fall, they will require potting this month. They do not flower well here when the weather becomes warm; but when grown in pots, and forwarded slightly by the aid of a cool frame, they do very well.
Cacti and succulent plants generally, will scarcely require water at all, unless in very dry situations, and then receive but a slight sprinkling with a syringe. The rule " When you water a plant at all, let it soak right through," does not, by any means, hold good with these plants, if there be not some other good exception.
A good supply of young Fuchsias should be coming on now. Re-pot as their roots fill each pot; let them not want for moisture or light; do not pinch off their tops, but let them grow rapidly. The temperature in which they are grown should not exceed 55°. A turfy loam, moderately enriched with well-decayed manure, and well drained with charcoal, suits them admirably.