This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In my opinion there is no summer flowering plant to surpass a well grown Gloxinia. It ranks second to no other flower for noble form and beauty. Mr. Peter B. Mead and several other good horticulturists who saw ours here this summer said they were the finest and best grown plants they had ever seen. A few hints on their culture will be acceptable to the readers of the Gardener's Monthly. Those we have here were grown from seed sown about April 1st of last year. Care should be taken never to let the soil get dry, also to have it very fine, and scarcely cover the seed. As soon as they were up nicely, so that they could be handled, they were transplanted about two inches apart in seed pans. In a few weeks they were large enough to be potted in three-inch pots, where they made nice sized bulbs, and each plant threw up from two to four flowers. After they had finished flowering, water was gradually withdrawn, but never allowed to get dust-dry until the foliage had turned yellow Then they were stored away under the greenhouse pipes, the pots turned on their sides, where they remained until last spring. As soon as they started to make their new foliage (about the middle of March) all the old soil was removed, and the bulbs potted in two and three-inch pots.
The soil used was a mixture of equal parts good turfy loam, leaf mould and peat. It is quite essential that soil should be porous and sweet. Use water sparely until they begin to grow quite strong. Then place them in a moist atmosphere of 60° by night, which I consider quite warm enough for the starting point. Some people advocate starting them in 70°; but I think most of my friends will find it induces them to make spindly and weak growth; but as the season advances, the temperature should be increased. In a few weeks, when the two and three-inch pots were filled with roots, they were re-potted into four and five-inch pots, where they have matured their flowers this year. Do not, through inattention or neglect - as soon as they have done flowering - throw them aside to take their chance; for if the bulbs are dried off very suddenly they lose their vitality for the coming season; hence the care necessary after their blooming period is over. Our plants are all in four and five-inch pots; each bloom measuring 3 to 3½ inches in diameter, and from 10 to 18 flowers on a plant fully open.
I have had a few of them photographed by Mr. P. D. Ketchledge, of Belvidere, and have sent one of the cards to the editor; so, if he can conveniently insert it in the Gardener's Monthly, the public will see I am not exaggerating. I have omitted to say that the plants should never be exposed to the sun, nor be allowed to get dry while growing and blooming.
If these directions are carried out, I think the Gloxinias will be free from rust and thrip. The erect flowering varieties are considered far more useful and superior than the drooping kinds, as they are more appropriate for vases, bouquets, etc. Every person who has a greenhouse, let it be ever so small, may have a fine display of Gloxinias during the summer, and it is doubtful whether they can be surpassed, even by our choice orchids. They can also be easily propagated by the leaves, if you have an extra variety you wish to increase.
[With this came some magnificent specimens of Gloxinia flowers, showing that Mr. Coles knows full well what he is writing about. - Ed. G. M ]