There are few more attractive and showy greenhouse flowers than the calceolaria, and although useless as a cut flower it is of great value as a greenhouse decorative plant, or as a window plant, lasting fully as long as a cineraria and many other of our popular flowers. There are several species, both of the herbaceous and shrubby sections, nearly all from the west coast of South America and at a good elevation, for calceolarias dislike great heat at any time of their growth.
Calceolaria Flowered in 6-inch Pot.
Little attention is paid to the species, the beautiful hybrids of the herbaceous section being what we are interested in. Seed can be obtained of any reliable seedsman that will produce a great variety of beautiful flowers. Sow from June to end of September. If wanted in bloom by March, the earlier month is the time to sow, but they are difficult to have in bloom that early; if sown in September they can be bloomed the following May, and with less risk of failure than earlier. The seed is most minute, and for directions about sowing refer to chapter on that subject. Would say here that it should never be covered, a piece of glass over the seed pan being sufficient.
When the little plants are large enough to handle place them in pans or pots an inch apart. When they are near touching each other put into 3-inch pots. By December they will be large enough to go into 5-inch pots, and as they must be wintered cool, they will not need another shift till the first of March, when they can go into their flowering pots, a 7 or 8-inch.
Calceolarias are not so often seen in either the florists' windows or the private garden as their great beauty should warrant, and the reason is that although they cannot be called a difficult plant to manage they are easily ruined by neglect or mismanagement. The following conditions if faithfully observed will insure success:
Temperature - In the dull, dark days of winter 40 degrees at night is plenty warm enough. In Europe they are largely grown in coldframes. Here that is not as practicable, but from seed sowing till middle of November a coldframe is much the best for them. Let them at all times be so situated that they can have light, room to grow, plenty of fresh air and a low temperature. Bright sun coming suddenly in early spring is liable to burn their leaves, so a temporary shade should be provided, but not a permanent one till they are near flowering time.
Soil - A rather light loam, not chopped or sifted too fine, with a fourth or fifth of thoroughly rotted manure, will grow them well, if the soil is heavy add sand to the manure. I am sure it pays well when they are in the larger pots, the 5-inch and upwards, to drain with a few Crocks and a piece of green moss.
Insects - They are seldom troubled with any but the common greenfly, but to those the calceolaria is a choice morsel and too often a fine batch of young plants is utterly ruined by them. Don't wait till you see the fly, but smoke mildly every week at least, without fail, and till they are taken to the show house should always have tobacco stems strewn among the pots. There is no feature in the cultivation of the calceolaria so important as this; never let aphis be seen on them. -
The shrubby section of calceolaria is used in Europe largely as a summer flowering garden plant. The writer has tried it here several times, but always with failure, and that, I believe, is the general verdict. Our hot summer is the obstacle. As a flowering plant for the greenhouse they are not nearly so ornamental as the herbaceous varieties. The same cultural directions will apply to them, excepting that they are usually propagated by cuttings, which root readily in the fall in a cool, shady frame.