There are no hardy flowers more deserving general cultivation than Carnations, as they present charming diversity of coloring with delicious, spicy perfume. They thrive best in a fresh loamy soil not too heavy, a yellow or brown loam being best suited for growing them.
Propagation is effected by seeds, by cuttings or by layers; by seeds, in early Spring, sown in pots or pans in light rich soil composed of half sand and half leaf-mold, the seeds being covered lightly with the soil. Place in a mild bottom heat, and, when the seedlings are about one inch in height, prick them off about two inches apart in boxes; then return them to the same temperature (a mild hotbed) and shade them during hot sunshine for a few days or until the young seedlings have taken root in the new soil; afterwards remove them to a cold frame and gradually expose them to the open air. Plant them, about the middle of April, where they are to flower, in a sunny situation protected from cold winds, in soil which is fresh, not having been used for at least a year before in growing flowers of any sort.
In propagating by cuttings, use only wood which is short-jointed and carries strong healthy leaves. Dibble them about one inch apart in boxes filled with sandy leaf-mold, and place them, in March, in cold frames or in a shaded, sheltered spot out of doors. They may also be put in (in a similar situation) in September with equally good results. As soon as they are rooted, transplant them three inches apart either into boxes or into a sheltered border until ready for their permanent quarters. Where only a few growths of any desirable variety can be had, propagation by layering is perhaps the surest of all methods. Layering is effected by simply bending one of the branches or shoots into the soil (after, with a sharp knife, having cut a slit into the shoot on the underside, about half through the stem) and, with a hooked peg, pegging it into the ground about one-half inch below the surface. Then, to a light stake, tie the point of the shoot in an upright position, which will open the cut or slit, care being taken not to sever entirely the point of the shoot from the main stem. Next cover the cut part with light sandy soil and give a good watering. Keep the soil moderately moist, and in a few weeks the layers will be rooted when they may be severed from the parent stem and planted where they are to bloom.
Should the Carnation be attacked by rust or spot, pick off all the affected leaves at once and spray the entire plant with Bordeaux Mixture composed of one pound of powdered copper-sulphate in two gallons of water and one pound of fresh slacked lime in two gallons of water, these being mixed together and enough water being added to make ten gallons. Mix and stir the whole thoroughly and apply with a sponge or syringe, seeing that the underside of all the leaves is reached by the spray. About May first give the soil around the plants a good mulching with very old well-decomposed cow-manure and give water as required. As soon as the flower-stalks are six inches high, stake each flower-stem with a light stake about one-quarter of an inch in thickness, tying the stem loosely to the stake, to keep the flowers from being blown about by the winds or from being bent to the ground by watering. Pick off all spent flowers as soon as they lose color, and give water as required.