The forms of plant cases for the growth of such -plants as require a moist, still atmosphere, a condition impossible to obtain in a room in a dwelling-house, nor even in a greenhouse, unless it is specially erected for the purpose, are numerous. The form commonly known as the Wardian Case, (Fig. 32), has a base or tray usually of black walnut, about 6 inches deep, and lined with zinc, and glass sides and top; these differ in size, some being as largo as 3 feet on the sides. Another neat and cheaper form is made of Terra Cotta, (fig. 33), or other earthen ware; these are usually round in shape, and of various sizes, from 9 to 18 inches in diameter. In all these the plants must he covered with glass; in the Wardian Case there is glass all around the sides and top, the top being hinged to allow the escape of excess of moisture. In the Jardinieres, or circular form, the plants are covered by a bell-glass which is tilted up a little at the side, when there is an appearance of excess of moisture. This condition of excess is known by the glass becoming dimmed by moisture, and the water trickling down the side. Usually when this appearance is seen, by raising the glass lid of the Wardian Case an inch or so for a day, it will relieve it enough to enable it to be kept close, which is the proper way to keep it for the well being of the plants. The plants grown in this way are of kinds valued for their beauty of foliage, rather than for their flowers, and should be such as are rather of a slow growth; all rampant growing plants, such as Co-Ions, are unsuited. The effectiveness of these cases depend a great deal on the arrangement of the plants; the tallest and most conspicuous things should be in the center, with smaller ones towards the edges, varying the interest by contrasting the different colorings and forms of leaves. Among the plants best suited for growing under these glass coverings, are Dracaenas, Gymnostachynms, Marantas, Caladiums, some of the ornamental leaved Eranthemums, and dwarf growing Begonias, Peperomias, etc., and Ferns and Lyco-pods of the finer sorts. The most of these are plants whose natural habitat is shady woods or marshes; and for their well being, the nearest that the "Wardian Case or Jardiniere can be made to imitate such, the better.
Fig. 32. - Wardian Case.
The soil used in these cases should be light and porous. The most convenient, and a very suitable material, is the leaf-mold, which can be got in any piece of woodland. After planting, the soil should be watered freely, bo that it is settled around the roots. And to allow evaporation, ventilation should be given for a few days after the watering, when the glass may be put down close, only to be opened as before directed, when an excess of moisture shows on the glass. Other than this there is no trouble whatever in the management; the watering given on planting will be sufficient to keep it moist enough for 6 or 8 weeks. In winter the temperature of the room in which the Wardian case or fernery is kept may run from 50° to 70° at night. These closed cases of either kind may be used for growing Hyacinths in winter if desired, for which they are particularly well adapted; only, that when brought into the room to flower, the cases will require daily ventilation. After planting the Hyacinths in the cases, however, it must not be forgotten that they must be kept in a cool, dark place, until they root, just as when they are grown in pots, or glasses. For further instructions on this head see Hyacinths. Lily of the Valley can also be grown finely in a Wardian case; but as it requires some special treatment, we give it in a separate chapter.