The Crimson Rambler, Dorothy Perkins and the Farquhar, both beautiful pink ramblers, and all popular Easter plants, require the same treatment. You can obtain strong, field-grown plants in November, and if their shoots are six or seven feet long shorten them back to three or four feet. They require a 7-inch or 8-inch pot. Pot them and keep very cool for the first month, but if Easter is early you want to begin early to start them growing. Success will all depend on starting slowly, but twelve to fourteen weeks is none too much to allow them in the houses. You can tie them in any shape, but the canes should not be allowed to run up straight. You will get a more even break if they are wound around a few stakes.
Another plan, entailing more time and labor but a surer way to get flowers in abundance, and requiring less time in winter to force, is to pot some one-year-old plants in April and put them in 5-inch or 6-inch pots and start growing in the coolest house you have. Then give them a light bench and some long wires to support them, and by midsummer you will have five or six strong, long growths. Other growths should be rubbed off. If you have too many canes you will get a weaker growth. Put them out of doors in July and by the end of August try to shorten up on water and the wood will ripen. As cold weather comes they will want little water and will lose their foliage.
These plants can be forced at any time and, although the canes are not quite so strong as the field-grown ones, every eye gives us a cluster of bloom. After a few frosts we lay the plants down in a coldframe and cover with boards, and a little hay or straw on the plants, where they can remain till you want to bring them in.
This plan of growing them the previous summer in pots assures free-flowering plants and no excuse for failure, yet we must admit that the trusses and florets are not so large, or the leaves so deep a green, as on the plants dug from the ground in the fall, because they have been growing so long in the same pot that the soil is somewhat exhausted. This can be helped by a heavy mulching of almost fresh cow manure soon after you commence to force, or frequent feedings with liquid manure. Nitrate of soda, one pound in thirty-six gallons of water, is excellent for intensifying color in both flower and foliage.
Another plan, still better, is used when you procure the dormant plants in the spring. One-year-old are strong enough. Try to start them in 5-inch pots, for with good care and feeding strong canes can be produced in a 5-inch. This admits of a liberal shift into a 7-inch at time of starting to force, and your plants then will have the vigor and freshness of the field-grown.
Mildew often attacks the summer grown ramblers in the month of June, when making their fastest growth, and is nearly always caused by a severe drying of the roots. Avoid that if you want best results. Extremes of heat or cold, dryness or wetness, will quickly invite mildew, although on tea roses a cold draught is the most common forerunner of mildew.
We have tried many times to force the plants lifted from the field in November, but have not yet acquired the secret; still it can be done, for the Philadelphia growers are very successful that way. We once succeeded with a few very fine plants. It must have been an accident, but growing them the previous summer in pots leaves scarcely a chance for failure and they occupy little valuable space in the houses.
All the ramblers we get are budded on the briar; hence their wonderful, vigorous growth. And as long as we can buy of our nurserymen fine plants at such a low cost it would never pay us to bother about either budding them or propagating from cuttings.