"Descending snow, the golden leaf and sear, Are indications of old Time's career;
The careful florist tends his sheltered plants, Studies their natures, and supplies their wants."
A few plants in the house are desirable, or even indispensable, to the female portion of the family, or to invalids, who have a taste for flowers.
A choice collection of plants in the sitting-room or parlor will add much to the charms of home; but as we often see them, weak, straggling, drawn up, crowded together, and infested with insects, they rather give pain than pleasure.
In this state, the clear sunlight through the window is far preferable to a congregation of coarse earthen pots and saucers, with their sickly occupants. Judging from what we too often see, cultivators in parlors have very erroneous ideas of what is necessary for a perfect development of their plants. In fact, the plants are often killed with too much kindness; too much heat, too much water, want of light and air, and want of water, are the general causes of the sickly state of plants, which have often fallen under our notice; to which may be added, unsuitable compost or mould. Saucers under the pots, if water is suffered to stand in them, are injurious, but necessary for the sake of neatness; never, therefore, suffer the water to stand in them, nor to be poured into them. The water should always be given on the surface, and never water unless the surface is dry, and then in moderate quantities, for most plants. Rain water only should be used, and that of a mild temperature, but not warm. When water is necessary, it should be applied in the morning of a mild sunny day.
Watering with guano water may be resorted to, to stimulate the plants occasionally; but an over-dose will be injurious, if not destructive. A great spoonful or two to a pail of water will be strong enough; this may be used twice a week.
It is useless to expend time upon plants in rooms where the windows face to the north. South, south-east, or south-west exposures are the best; of course a south window is the very best, as it admits the sun all day.
Light is more important than great heat; indeed, plants are frequently ruined, for all ornamental purposes, by keeping the room excessively hot. The hot, dry air of most sitting-rooms of the present day is so injurious to the Camellia, as well as some other plants, that it can hardly be made to flower, as the buds will fall off long before the time of flowering. But I have seen as fine blooms of the Camellia in an old-fashioned sitting-room in the country, as I have in the green-house. The room was so cold at night that the thermometer would fall nearly to freezing, with a plenty of air from the old window casements during the day. A good temperature for the Camellia is a range of 40° by night, to 60° during the day. I do not mean to be understood that this should be the highest range in the sun; but at the back side of the room, in the shade. This temperature will also do for most plants; some will thrive better with a higher range, but their cultivation should not be attempted in a sitting-room.
Where there is too much heat, and not well exposed to light, the plants will spindle up, and make feeble, sickly growth, and if they produce flowers, they will be so weak and pale as to excite the pity of the beholder.
Unless the pots are turned every day, the plants will grow one-sided; every plant should receive as much light as possible.
A stand for flowers should have rollers attached to the legs, so that the plants may with the least trouble be turned round to the light, or wheeled into the middle of the room at night, when the weather is severe.