This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
About this time the lamentable inquiry usually comes to the editor, "What is the matter with my window plants? some of them have done very well, but this one or that one is yellow or sickly, and looks as if it would die." We have often been to look at the weaklings or sicklings, and have generally found them suffering from too much water or too much insect. But the former is generally the trouble in window plants. If the pots are badly drained, the water does not get away, and for healthy plants the soil must dry rapidly. If the plant dries so that it needs must have water at least twice a week, it is in a healthy condition. The plant should never have water when the soil is already damp.
But what to do with these sicklings? Take them out of their old pots, wash the roots, trim the weaker branches, and put into as small a pot as the roots can be forced into. Let it remain there till by good growth it shows it has good healthy roots, then it may have more earth in a little larger pot.
Fuchsias may now be readily struck from the young growth of the old plants, which will make excellent blooming plants for the next summer season.
Dahlias should now be brought forward. A good plan is to shorten the extremity of the roots, put them in six-inch pots and place in a warm greenhouse. In a few weeks they will sprout, when they should be shaken out, divided with a piece of root to each sprout, and separately potted in four inch pots.
Pansies are coming now into flower. They like an airy frame, where they will not be roasted in midday nor exposed to drying winds, and yet have a free circulation of air and plenty of light. Planted out in such a frame, and the old shoots cut away as soon as the plant has done flowering, the plants will keep healthy over till the next season. Superior varieties can be raised from seed. Choose those with the roundish petals, best colors, and the first flowers that open, to raise seed from.
Camellias will require rather more water while growing than at other times. Just before they grow is a good time to graft. Cut down the stock, cleft graft in the crown, wax, and plunge in a bottom heat of 70°. A great many kinds may be had on one plant by the bottle system - a shoot about to grow is obtained, and attached to the stock as in inarching, the end of the shoot being put in a small phial of water suspended beneath it. This plan does best, however, with half ripe wood in July.
Geraniums, pelargoniums, cinerarias, and Chinese Primroses, must be kept as near the glass and light as possible; they do little good in shady places. Keep off the green Aphis; - for this, on a small scale, there is nothing like hot water; on a large scale, tobacco-smoke in several successive small doses, is still the best remedy.
Auriculas, carnations, pinks, and polyanthus - the prettiest of florist's flowers - must be kept cool, just free from frost, with plenty of air, if the best results are desired.