This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
Some years since I was a very extensive Pansy grower, and for a few seasons they succeeded admirably with me; in fact, no one in this neighbourhood could compete with me, and whenever I exhibited, which I used to do several times in a season, I always took the two first prizes with my own seedlings. I commenced by purchasing about forty of the best varieties of Mr. Barratt of Wakefield, and for a few years I scarcely grew any thing else. At the end of that time my plants went off very rapidly; one day they appeared most luxuriant, the next day they drooped as though they wanted water, and the following day they were dead. I soon discovered the cause: it was a light-coloured insect, about the sixth of an inch in length, and no thicker than fine thread, that destroyed the bark of the plant under ground. I tried every remedy to destroy it I could think of, but without success. I prepared a bed, in which I used a quantity of salt, and another to which I applied lime; I also removed the old soil from some and brought in fresh.
But the enemy was still there; and so completely and rapidly were my plants eradicated, that several of my friends imagined that I had destroyed them from whim and love of change; and many of them even say at this present time, "What is the favourite flower now, and how long will it be so?" I have found the same insect attack Stocks, etc.; and I was going to say Cabbages, but I recollected that I was writing for The Florist.
Can Dr. Maclean, or any other kind correspondent, name the insect for me from this description, and tell me the best mode of effectually destroying it? I have lately bought a few Pansies, which I intend keeping in pots during the winter, and planting out in the spring, and I shall be sorry for them to share the fate of the others.
There is no difficulty in finding the insect, for if you pull up a plant attacked by it, you will be certain to find one or more adhering to it, though I never saw it attack a plant above ground. They appear to me to like moisture, and whatever I may apply to the beds, I shall put a little Calais sand round the stom of each plant when I plant it. J. Riley.
Birkley, near Huddersfield, Oct. 30.