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.
Much of the failure in growing plants in windows comes from choosing plants of too tender a character. Plants which are usually grown in the moist atmosphere of very warm houses are unfit for window culture. Those which are very nearly hardy, but which bloom naturally in winter time, are much more suited to window gardening. It is with greenhouses as with rooms. There are numerous plants which do very well in a temperature ranging between 45° and 60° during sunshine, which are much better than many of the plants usually selected. We might give a list of such, but it is now almost impossible to get full orders for desirable plants anywhere, and one has rather to use what he can get, than to select what he desires. The only plan is to look around among the neighboring florists, and choose those which seem the best in accord with these views. Another advantage in selecting rather hardy plants for winter blooming is that we need not then fear so much the effect of cool nights. When small conservatories are attached to dwelling rooms, and these are protected by double glass windows, so as to guard against the entry of cold from without, and all crevices carefully closed, it is surprising how little artificial heat is sufficient to keep up the necessary temperature.
Very often the mere keeping open of a communicating door, so that the warmth of the parlor will get to the conservatory, is all that is needed.
Plants stored away for the winter in cold pits, require more care for the first month or so than at any other time through the winter season. Many of them have unripened shoots, or shed many of their leaves, and unless these be cut off and removed, gangrene and decay commit distressing havoc. Air should be given at every opportunity, and nothing omitted that will, in any way, tend to harden the plants, and send vegetation to rest. No more water should be given than just sufficient to prevent withering, and the temperature should be kept as near 40° as possible, and every chance taken to render the air about the plants dry. When frost actually does come, no further care than protection from its embraces will then be required. Plants so hardened, may stay covered up for weeks without any light or air, and secure from the slightest injury. Mice constitute the most troublesome enemy in a pit closed for any length of time; but we have, as yet, found nothing better than the recommendation given in back volumes, namely, to take peas and soak them twenty-four hours in water, then roll in arsenic and sow in a pot, as if in the regular way of seed-sowing. A few pots so prepared, should be placed in the pit before permanently closing up.
The mice usually make for these pots at their first entrance to the pits. If placed on the soil they seem to guess your secret, and will not " bite".
Plants in cellars need much the same care as those in pits. Avoid heat and dampness; frequently, however, plants suffer in cellars through getting too dry. They should be looked over, at any rate, once a month, and a little water given, if likely to become entirely dry.
Aquariums, which were once very popular, and added a great charm to the parlor or attached conservatory, are not so much in use as they were, chiefly because people do not seem to understand the necessity of plenty of growing plants in the water as well as the fish or other creatures. These plants give the air to the water which the fish require. While recently in Cincinnati the writer of this visited the establishment of Mr. Hugo Mulertt, who exercises intelligent care for aquarium management, which makes him very successful. We obtained from him the following list of plants which he employs in his aquarium work. They are arranged in groups, according to habits of growth :
Plants that grow without roots, floating below the surface of the water. Ceratophyllum demersum and robusta, Nitella viridis, Utricularia vulgaris and purpurea.
Plants that strike roots from the joints. An-acharis canadensis, Callitriche verna, Fontanelis, Lysi-machia, Myriophyllum heterophyllum and spicatum, Naja purpurea and viridis, Ludwigia autumnalis and palustris, Cabomba Caroliniana and rosaefolia, Ranunculus aquatilis, Schollera graminea, Zanichella palustris, Potamogeton cris-pus and perfoliatus.
Root in the bottom, and multiply by suckers from the roots. Some plants of this group have a double existence, or undergo a transformation with a change of the seasons. In the summer time the leaves are of a different shape from those of the winter, so that a person not familiar with their peculiarity would think they were two different plants. Sagittaria natans and lanceolata, Vallisneria spiralis (male and female), Potamogeton natans, Yucca aquatica (Eriocaulon).
Comprises a class of plants that require rich soil for their roots to grow in ; they send their leaves to the surface of the water, where they float. Aponogeton dis-tachyon, Limnocharis Humboldtii, Nymphaea flava, odorata and coerulea, Nelumbium luteum, Brazenia peltata.
Includes very curious plants. They float on the surface of the water, and their roots hang into the water, from which they take their nourishment. Hydro-charis morsus rana, Hydrocotyle umbellata, Lemna minor and trisulca, Pistia stratiotes, Trianea bogotensis.
Includes marsh plants, such as Iris pseuda-corus, Aspidistra lurida and variegata, Cyperus alternifolia, Sagittaria obtusa and lancifolia, Saururus cernuus, fancy Caladium, Orontium aquaticum.