This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
The plants having been taken from the parent stock a month since, as recommended in the last Number of The Florist, are established in small pots, and never have we had finer or more healthy ones. The lights are drawn back at all times the weather will permit, and as much air as possible is given during the night, by tilting the lights, both back and front. The plants should often be gone over with a pair of scissors, to cut away all dead foliage, and at the same time to examine the plants; if green-fly should be found in the hearts of them, brush them out before they get a-head. This plan may be a little more labour than fumigating, but we prefer it for this reason, that, to do any good, and to destroy the insects effectually, the tobacco must be very strong, so strong that it discolours the foliage, by giving it a yellow appearance for a long time, when perhaps two-thirds of the plants were not infested with the insects. Early in December, we plunge the pots to the rim in sawdust or coal-ashes, - we prefer a mixture of both, as it will not adhere to the side of the pots, as sawdust alone would, and the latter is a much cleaner material than ashes alone; this keeps the pots from drying too suddenly, and protects the roots from severe frost.
By giving all the air possible, as before mentioned, and keeping the plants perfectly clean, they may be considered at rest until the "1st of March," with the exception of the watering-pot being sparingly used on a mild morning. By this time (March) most growers will be aware of the extent of their losses and wants; and those that are most expeditious in filling up any vacancies caused by winter will be the best off, as it is a very different matter procuring choice kinds in the spring to what it is in the autumn. Many kinds cannot be obtained at that time, and all will be much enhanced in value.
It would appear from the above that it is a difficult matter to winter Carnations and Picotees, as so many are lost during that season. This is not the case: we are often surprised to hear of fine plants almost suddenly becoming covered with spot and mildew, but when we have gone to see them we have not been surprised at all; we find them about two feet from the glass, in a very wet state, with scarcely any air given to them, or care taken in any way. Allow the plants to receive a little gentle rain at the present time, provided it is mild, with a chance of their drying before frost returns. In March, constant attention in watering will be necessary. There will be very drying winds; and as the pots will be getting full of roots, much injury would arise by neglecting this essential part. During this month most of the potting into large pots for bloom should be done; and those will be best off that have attended well to their compost, by turning it often in frosty weather, and keeping it dry on other occasions.
We have so often, in the pages of The Florist, described the soil we prefer, and also the time we mix it, that we shall not repeat the same on the present occasion; and only add, that we would sooner make use of a middling or rather poor soil, in a good dry state, that had been well sweetened, than compost ever so rich, if not well prepared.* In potting, the two essential things to bear in mind are, good drainage and firm potting - that is, to press the soil until it is almost hard about the plants. Those that are potted first should be placed in the most sheltered part of the garden: if frame room can be afforded, so much the better; at all events, be prepared to cover them with small handglasses or inverted pots, if severe weather returns. Secure, when potting, such plants as require it with small deal sticks. March winds would injure many of the plants when first exposed. A 12-inch pot will be sufficiently roomy to grow three plants of a kind in, where there are plenty and a choice of plants.
They also look better with this number; and with such varieties as will carry two blooms on a stalk, six flowers will make a handsome pot, the more so, of course, if the blooms are grown to a large size.
[To be concluded in our next Number].