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.
It was feared that the widely spreading taste for cut flowers would militate against the love of cultivating plants. But it does not appear to have done so. Greenhouses and conservatories are just as numerous as they ever were, and indeed rather more numerous. Those who get the love of flowers from mere adornment soon learn to care for the plants which produce them.
In growing winter flowers, much care is given to the nature of the soil, the aspect, and many points other than the most essential, which are the care of the roots of plants and preservation of the foliage from insects. When plants are over-watered the roots decay, and the plants become sickly or die. Too much care cannot be given to over watering. If the pot is large and the roots comparatively small, the soil is almost sure to sour, when the roots will decay. It is much safer to keep plants in as small pots as the roots will go into than to risk larger ones; and every care should be taken to facilitate the passage of water through the bottom of the pot. In potting it is best to fill the pot to the brim, even rounding the soil over the brim. It is almost impossible for such a potted plant to get too much water; but it necessitates watering oftener than when potted in the usual way, or the plant may suffer from being too dry.
In taking up things from the ground for pot-tin?, care should be taken to have the pots well drained, with pieces of potsherds over the hole. The more rapidly water passes through the soil the better plants will grow. Pots could be made without holes, and the water would all go through the porous sides in time; but that is too slow a way, so we make a hole to admit of its more rapid escape, and we place the broken pots over the hole to make a vacuum, which assists the objects of the hole. In very small pots, or with plants which have strong enough roots to rapidly absorb all the moisture they get, and speedily ask for more, " crocking " is not necessary.
As for insects, the repeated use of the syringe is one of the best preventives of their attacks and if water can be used for syringing heated to 130°, there will be few complaints of insect attacks.
There are but few things in the greenhouse that will require special treatment at this time. Camellias and Azaleas, as they cease to grow, will require less water; but it is now so well known that moisture is favorable to growth, and comparative dryness favorable to flowering, that we need do no more than refer to the fact.
Bulbs for flowering in pots should be placed at once. Four or five inch pots are suitable. One Hyacinth and about three Tulips are sufficient for each. After potting, plunge the pots over their rims in sand under the greenhouse stage, letting them remain there until the pots have become well filled with roots, before bringing them on to the shelves to force.