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.
Flowers grown in pots often need re-potting while they are growing. This is an operation requiring much thought and care. As a rule there is more danger of a plant being in too large than in too small a pot. It may not grow well in a small pot; the leaves may not be of as dark a green as when it has plenty of earth to grow in. The trouble with a large pot and a small plant is that the water does not always run away fast enough. When this is the case small mould grows, or, as gardeners say, the soil gets sour, and the young and tender points of the roots are rotted. The plant sickens and very often dies. In old times, say forty years ago, there were gardeners who prided themselves on their success with what they termed the " one-shift system." A plant would be taken from a thumb pot, and at once put into one six, eight or ten inches in diameter, and they often did succeed admirably. But it was very much like the effort of the celebrated driver, who loved to see the wheels of his vehicle go straight along within a quarter of an inch of the chasm, without throwing you a thousand feet down below.
You would prefer the driver who kept further away. These " one-shift" fellows had to use unusual care. One-third of the pot would be filled with broken pots or broken bricks, and the soil would be turfy, out up into squares, or used in very coarse pieces. All these precautions enabled the water to pass rapidly away. It is safest especially for those with no pretension to skill not to re-pot unless the plant has a number of active roots, and to put it in a new pot not more than a half inch or an inch larger than before. The hole at the bottom of the pot should be carefully guarded so as to be sure it will not get choked. It is this which allows of the rapid escape of water, which is the great essential of successful plant culture. The soil for potting is usually one-third of sand, and this is to enable the water to pass rapidly away. For nourishment nothing is better, if it can be had, than thoroughly decayed cow manure. Any kind of manure, if thoroughly decayed, is good fur pot plants. It is not easy to give special rules for different plants, though in some respects there are variations on which one might fill the whole magazine with rules.
For instance we might say: