Streptocarpuses can be flowered in six months from the time of sowing, if the seed is put in in February in a warm house. It is also a good time to sow the fern-like grevil-lea robusta, which likes a warm, moist temperature.
Cannas may be brought into bloom for the garden the same year by sowing now; by soaking the seeds in water germination may be hastened, and also by giving them bottom heat at 650 to 700. Plants may be increased by suckers also.
Roses can safely be grafted towards the end of the month in gentle heat, using the roots of briar or the manetti stock.
Keep insect pests at bay in glasshouses by spraying and fumigating from time to time.
February is the month for general repotting of stove plants. In re-potting plants, shake off as much as possible of the old soil, without hurting the plant. A wooden label will be of assistance in doing this.
Among plants for re-potting may be mentioned anthuriums, caladiums, and alocasias, also climbing plants such- as the beautiful yellow allamanda, and the pink dipladenia. Tropical ferns may be increased by division at the time of re-potting them.
Cuttings will now be put in of stove plants of which stock is required.. The bulbs of achimenes, also gloxinia, may be started. An illustration is shown of a beautiful gloxinia in full bloom.
Increase the moisture of the air in the house, and specially avoid cold draughts in giving ventilation. The night temperature should not fall much below 60°, if possible.
Tuberoses and gardenias can be provided now for cut flowers. Autumn-struck fuchsias will be growing freely. Relays of plants for forcing will be brought on constantly, including a succession of flowering shrubs. Zonal pelargoniums, if kept in a light house at a temperature of 500, will give an excellent show.
If it is desired to plant fruit-trees this month, be sure to see that the ground is well and deeply dug, and plenty of manure put in. The manure must be in a well-decayed condition, and it must not be allowed to approach the roots of the tree.
If the ground requires draining before trees are put in, mortar rubble can be used. The stakes necessary for standard trees, which should, of course, be placed in the ground before the tree is actually planted, should be creosoted at the ends; and the tops should have a pad, so as to avoid wounding the stem of the tree.
Flat, trained fruit-trees are particularly suitable for a small walled garden, or for growing on wire frameworks beside a path. The plan is economical, as the trees take little room, and need not be planted more than two feet apart. The gridiron-trained apple, illustrated below, is an example of this form of training. Other forms are single and double cordons, espaliers, and fan-trained trees.
Pruning and training may be continued, if left unfinished last month. Currants and gooseberries may be left till the last, because of the ravages made on them by birds. A good spray against these marauders, as well as one which will reduce scale and moss on fruit-trees, may be made up by mixing nine pounds of lime, one and a half pounds of salt, half a pound of waterglass, and four gallons of water. The application also hinders buds from early opening, and so reduces injury by frost.
If trees were troubled last season by magpie moth or gooseberry sawfly, rake away two inches of surface soil and bury it deeply, as this should destroy the chry-salids.
Cuttings and layers of hardy fruit-trees may now be taken.
Where grafts are required for use in a month or two, cut off moderate-sized shoots of last year's growth and put them into the ground under a north wall, burying about half their length.
Raise the night temperatures of early vineries to 550, ventilating in the early morning and closing early in the afternoon, after which time a temperature of 8o° will do no harm. The syringe should be used at closing-time. Thinning, stopping, and tying out the shoots will be done as occasion requires. Leave one shoot only to each spur at the finish.
Strawberries will also require setting, and superfluous blossoms should hen be removed, leaving about a dozen and a half fruits to a pot. Liquid manure should now be given three times weekly.
Pines intended for fruiting may have an increase of temperature. They should be syringed at closing time, which should be early in the afternoon. Avoid keeping the house too moist. The night temperature for fruiting plants should be 65°. For plants in succession this may be a little lower.
Melons may be planted out, with a bottom heat of 75 ° or 8o°, and a night temperature of 65°. Good mellow loam should be the medium used for planting; it must be pressed firmly about the roots, and the plants trained to a single stem. A further sowing of melons can be made.
Many vegetables can be sown out of doors this month, if the weather is favourable and the ground not too heavy. Two sowings of broad beans (Early Magazan and, Longpods) can be made on a warm border, sowing them in drills three inches deep and two and a half feet apart. Detached rows, however, with dwarf vegetables grown between, are likely to succeed best. The same applies to peas, of which a sowing may be made at the first favourable opportunity, if the soil is light and sandy.
Peas sown at this time will not be much later in cropping than the same varieties sown in November, and the crop will be superior to them. The drills drawn should be wide, and the seeds spread evenly, especially in the case of marrowfat varieties, which, together with other branching kinds, are generally sown too thickly. Let the soil be made firm before sowing. If a crop has already appeared in bad condition, turn the ground in and re-sow.
Carrots, leeks, parsley, parsnip, spinach, radish, early cabbage, and savoys can be sown on a warm border out of doors, but it is probably best to sow all but the root-crops in the shelter of a frame. Salad plants can be raised in this way also. Sea-kale, dandelion, chicory, and rhubarb may be put into the forcing-pit. Cucumbers and tomatoes may be planted or potted on.
Sowings can be made under glass of mustard and cress, and of celery, celeriac, and tomato. The hardier subjects should have as much air as possible, in order to encourage their sturdy growth. Disease will thus be better resisted.