This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
The early blooming varieties will this month begin to swell their flower-buds, and the later ones make growth preparatory to commencing the same process. These indications, however, should not be encouraged till the cultivation is aided by longer days and a more genial sun, to mature and more perfectly develope the coming flower. Low temperature, and small supply of water, I must again recommend the continuance of, admitting air on all fitting occasions, but avoid the freezing-point; every day will increase the risk of injury to the flowering growth by exposure to a temperature below 32 deg. The plants will require looking over, to remove any dead foliage that may have accumulated. The most forward in bud may be tied out, and arranged for the season, such as Odora rosea, Vasiflora, Aristata, Suaveolens, Beaumontia, Perspicua nana, the Vestitas, Vernix, Ardens, and many others. In wet and close weather (of which we have had this winter a more than usual amount), fire should be lighted in the morning to dry the plants and floor of the house, taking care, as I have remarked on former occasions, not to raise the temperature; dry, low temperature, and free circulation, are the greatest enemies to mildew.
When rain puts a stop to outdoor operations, pick over, and select choice bits of peat for potting by and bye, breaking them on the potting-board, and turning frequently; this sweetens and renders it in a more healthy and fitting state for the purpose. A supply of well-washed sand may be provided; also painted labels of different sizes, and sticks of different lengths, painted a green colour, not forgetting an ample supply of clean crocks for drainage, and moss; these appliances at hand greatly facilitate the spring operations.
Whitehill, December 18, 1848. W. H. Story.
As the days lengthen, and the sun sheds warmer rays, air may be freely admitted; water will consequently require to be more frequently supplied: should the weather however prove dull, with cold, cutting winds, shelter the plants from their direct influence as much as possible, without altogether preventing a gentle circulation, that is, provided the thermometer stands at 32° or upwards: if freezing, shut close. By checking rather than encouraging growth thus early in the year, you obtain finer flowers by and by, as well as induce greater vigour in the growing season. Have all things ready by the end of the month to begin potting in March.
Whitehill. W. H. Story.
As the spring-blooming varieties are now fast advancing, it will be necessary to look them over; finally arrange each and every branch, supporting those needing it with thin green-painted sticks, placed as inconspicuously as possible; remove any dead foliage that might have accumulated, also moss or wild heath, which frequently vegetate during the dark, damp atmosphere of winter; a scrubbing brush and a pail of water may be brought into useful operation to cleanse the outsides of the pots, which not unfrequently, at this season, are covered with a green slimy vegetation, disagreeable to the touch, and offensive to the eye. Give the plants the benefit of all the air free from frost, avoiding side draughts; an increased supply of water will be needed this month; do not deprive the plant of the smallest portion of sunshine. The shifting of "stock" may now be proceeded with on mild days, also the late-blooming sorts towards the end of the month. - N.B. A very copious statement upon potting, the best sorts of composts, as well as all other details connected therewith, may be found in No. V. of The Florist, vol. i.
W. H. Story.
The Heathery is now daily becoming more and more interesting to the zealous cultivator and admiring amateur. Aris-tata, Vestita, Odorata, and their allies, are rapidly advancing into bloom; whilst Obtusa, Lactiflora, Nitida, Pulverulenta, Trossula, Bergiana, and a host of other minute-blooming varieties, are in the height of their beauty, clothed with thousands of tiny globular wax-like flowers from top to bottom; even the autumn-blooming varieties are looking bright and gay, being now making their growth previous to forming flower-buds. If the suggestions of last month have been attended to, nothing remains to be done for the present with the early-blooming varieties; - always, of course, excepting due attention to watering, free admission of air during the day, and a watchful care that a treacherous spring frost does not catch you napping. Active operation should now be in progress shifting "stock" and later-blooming specimens. Except for prolonging the bloom on any particular plants, the house will require but little shading during this month; perhaps two or three hours in the middle of the day, towards the latter part of it, may be advisable, should the sun prove scorching.
Whitehill. W. H. Story.