The most important requisite, for the successful cultivation of plants, is to have a stock of suitable compost for various plants, to pot them in, when that operation is performed. A plant in unsuitable mould cannot be healthy. The following materials should be obtained:
1. Good garden mould.
2. Mould from decayed turf, from a pasture or field.
3. Mould from decayed leaves.
4. Decomposed stable or cow-yard manure.
5. Sea or river sand.
6. Peat, from the meadows, that has been exposed to frost.
7. Coarse sand or gravel.
8. Broken flower-pots, charcoal, or oyster-shells.
9. Old mortar, or plastering.
Garden mould will not be needed if there is a supply of fine decayed turf mould, and will be wanted only in case of necessity. Turf mould, for a "basis, is probably the best ingredient for a compost for plants. The broken pots, charcoal, etc., are used for drainage, to be placed in the bottom of the pot at the time of potting; about one-fifth of the depth of the pot may be filled with it when broken up. A little meadow moss over this will prevent the mould from leeching down.
Leaf mould is not always to be obtained; but it is a precious ingredient in a compost, and many plants thrive much better in it than in anything else. It takes a long time to decompose leaves so as to be suitable for compost.
To have compost in perfection, the different ingredients should be mixed in advance of the time wanted; for instance, in the spring. They should be thoroughly mixed together, and put in heaps in the shade or under cover, and turned over every five or six weeks during the summer, as it will be wanted in August or September, when the plants are repotted.
Compost for Camellias, Pelargoniums, Roses, and most plants, may be made of the following ingredients :
1 part river or sea sand.
1 "leaf mould.
1 " well rotted manure from old hot-beds.
2 "turf or garden mould.
Or, if no leaf mould,
1 part sand.
2 " well rotted manure.
1 " peat.
2 " turf or garden mould.
If there is no peat, substitute turf or garden mould.
2 parts coarse sand.
3 " leaf and turf mould.
1 " peat, and 1 oz. broken plaster.
For Azaleas, Ericas, and most New Holland plants:
4 parts peat.
2 " sand.
1 " garden or turf mould. 1 " leaf do.
After the plants have done flowering in the spring, and as soon as the frosts are over, the pot should be plunged in the ground in a shady place, and watered sparingly during the summer. The great object during the summer will be to keep the plants at rest, so that they may bloom with greater vigor in the winter. They must not be suffered, however, to dry up, excepting the bulbous roots; these may remain in the shade without water, as the moisture would start them prematurely.