This section is from the book "Commercial Gardening Vol2", by John Weathers (the Editor). Also available from Amazon: Commercial Gardening, A Practical & Scientific Treatise For Market Gardeners.
These love an airy, light position, and will not stand coddling. This is one of the principal points which has to be remembered always to ensure success. Above all things commence with a vigorous healthy stock. Select good cuttings from the base of the flowering stems between December and March. Cut or pull them off at a joint, and insert them firmly in pure sand, either direct in the bed or in small pots or pans. Maintain as nearly as possible a bottom temperature of 60° F., and an overhead temperature of 50° F. Exclude all draughts, and shade from the sun. Sprinkle the tops freely and keep the sand moderately moist for about ten days. After this the cuttings will begin to callus; they should then be kept a trifle drier. When they have begun to root, more air and light must be admitted, to prevent the tops from growing while still in the sand; this would harm them, as such growth is bound to be soft and weak.
As soon as the cuttings are sufficiently rooted, which will be about four weeks after they were inserted, they should be potted into very small pots in a fairly light loam to which one-third of thoroughly decayed leaf soil may be added, and the whole should be finely sifted. After keeping the freshly potted small plants for a few days rather close and shaded from the sun, and moderately moist at the root, full light and air should gradually be admitted.
As soon as the young plants are well rooted through the soil, which will be in about a month from the first potting, they should be repotted into 3½-in. pots. This time a stronger mixture of soil should be given, viz. 4 parts of good loam, 1 part of old hotbed manure or well-decayed cow-dung, and a little wood ashes. This mixture should be chopped as fine as possible but not sifted.
Care must be taken not to pot the Carnations too deeply at any time: the top of the roots should be only just below the surface. A firm potting is also at all times necessary.
After the plants are well established in the 3½-in. pots it will generally be necessary to give them their first "stop", that is, to pinch out the top of the young plant just when it begins to lengthen and show an inclination to run into bud.
When the 3½-in. pots are again well filled with roots, the final shift into 7-in. pots will be necessary about the beginning of June. Plants propagated very early in the season may, of course, require an extra transplanting into 9-in. pots. The final potting should, however, never be done after the end of June if a crop of flowers for early autumn and winter is desired.
The soil for this final potting should be a little richer than the last, and the following will be found to make a very good mixture: 3 parts of good fibrous loam, not too light, 1 part of thoroughly decayed cow-manure, or the remains of an old hotbed. To a barrowload of this may be added about 3 lb. of coarse bone meal, and a similar quantity of wood ashes. At this final potting the soil should be well rammed into the pots with a flat stick.
AMERICAN CARNATION "REX" AT Mr. C. ENGELMANN' S NURSERY, SAFFRON WALDEN.
AMERICAN CARNATION "WINSOR" AT Mr. ENGELMANN'S NURSERY Showing network of string and wire to keep the shoots and flowering stems erect.
As regards indoor or outdoor summer culture opinions are divided. During wet seasons, and where light and airy houses are available, indoor cultivation throughout is to be recommended. If the season, however, is favourable it appears to be an advantage to the plants to be placed in the open from about June to the middle of August.