Within the past three years the fashion for the flowers of Lily of the Valley has increased to such an extent, that though the importation of roots has probably trebled each year, the price of the flower is still quite as high as when the forcing first begun. The failures which attend the winter flowering of this plant are mainly owing to the use of improperly developed roots. As with other similar plants, a certain size or development of the crown, or underground bud, is essential to produce the flower. What that size should he, is not, even with the most experienced, always easy to determine. In the Tuberose, the Japan, and some other Lilies, we find that bulbs that are less than an inch in diameter, are not certain to flower. The crown, or "pip," as florists sometimes call it, of the Lily of the Valley, when sufficiently developed to flower, should be of the size and shape shown in Fig. 34. Those too small to flower are like that shown in fig. 35. But these rules as to size and shape are not given as certain, for few have had experience enough to say with accuracy at what size the crown of the Lily of the Valley will not flower, although we may say with some certainty, if the crown is large, that it will do so. It is the want of this knowledge that, in my opinion, has made the flowering of the Lily of the Valley so uncertain when forced. As in forcing the Hyacinth, and other similar bulbs, crowns of the Lily of the Valley should be covered up outside for a few weeks, before being brought into the greenhouse or house to force. Those we flower are put in about the middle of November, packed closely together in light, rich soil, in boxes three inches deep. These are covered up outside with hay until the first of January; they are then brought into a greenhouse, facing north, where there is no direct sunlight at that season. The temperature is kept at about 70°, with a moist at-mosphere, and by the first of February they are in full flower. The Lily of the Valley could be grown finely in a Wardian case, as it would there get the proper light, with the necessary damp atmosphere. When grown in greenhouses, exposed to sunlight, it is necessary to shade the glass very heavily. When the flowers are about to open, they should then have light to give the leaves a healthy green color.
Fig. 34 - Lily Of The Valley Hud - Good.
Fig. 35. - Lily Of The Valley Bud - Poor.