This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
I hear and read of continual lamentations respecting the difficulty of wintering these favourites; but why such should obtain, I am at a loss to guess, for few plants are more easily wintered, as I will presently endeavour to shew as briefly as possible.
After the layers are detached in a dry state from the parent plant, they must be cleared of any decayed foliage, and the shoots removed where they are abundant; for a clean stem is far preferable to a bushy plant. Then pot singly or in pairs in 3-inch pots, using a compost not over-rich or exciting, and of a stiff rather than a sandy texture; let the plants be inserted firmly, about half an inch from the side of the pot if in pairs, or in the centre if single plants; above all, keep their heads above water, i. e. do not bury the stems more than is requisite for keeping the plant in an upright position. Label as you proceed, and store away each day's potting in a frame, usually known as a Cucumber-frame, which, being placed on a dry surface, must be filled up in the inside with dry brick-rubbish, coal-ashes, or sawdust, or all the three combined, to within eight or nine inches of the lights. Use the finer material for the surface, where the pots are to be plunged. After the plants are placed in the frame, let them be kept close for seven or ten days, and shaded from bright sunshine, if such should occur during that time.
Afterwards gradually admit air; and if a mild and gentle shower should offer itself, allow the plants the benefit of it, especially those that may have had time to get established; and in order that the latter may be all together, each light should cover the same day's work. Proceed in this way till all are potted. Look carefully after greenfly, and the moment it appears, fumigate.
Prepare now to place all the plants in winter quarters, plunging the pots up to their rims in the material already in your frame. Clean and stir the surface-soil as you progress, and stow all away in good order, keeping the different sorts together, and the numbers in rotation, in order that every variety may be seen at a glance. From the present time, or say from the 1st of December, the amount of moisture required will be very little. Whenever water is given, use a small pot without a rose, so as not to wet the "grass;" and only water at such times when the air is so dry and bright that you can allow the lights to be taken quite off, with a view to dry up the superabundant moisture. Warm gentle showers are really needed occasionally; but a difficulty exists in getting rid of the moisture, which hangs like morning dew on the grass for days together. Give air on all favourable occasions; by persevering in this they will endure a great amount of hard weather. Carnations and Pico-tees are far from being tender. If easterly winds prevail, tilt the lights cautiously on their western side; when "rude Boreas" issues from the north, prop up the lights some two or three inches on their southern side.
If a continuance of damp and wet obtain, keep up the lights some inches at both ends, in order that a free current of air may pass over the plants; and upon all favourable occasions remove the lights altogether.
I never required glass erections, or houses with open sides, for wintering my favourites in, or any other structure than a sound frame; nor has my success in wintering been moderate, although at blooming time I occasionally get beaten. March is the most trying time; searching and drying winds then prevail, when the stock is making a vigorous start; the soil must then have attention to watering, for the fibres will be at work, and will require a due amount of food. At this time more than at any other during the hard weather, do I recommend the use of mats over the lights, to break the force of high and parching winds; during continued frosts their use may be of advantage, but do not remove them should there be sunshine, as a sudden thaw is highly injurious. On the matter of thorough cleanliness I will not enlarge; he who would neglect it, deserves to suffer the ravages of mildew, spot, and vermin, which are ever ready to seize so favourable an opening.
I have thus hurriedly reviewed the winter season, and must here conclude, by soliciting the practice pursued at potting and blooming times by our eminent modern growers, the Messrs. Burroughes, Matthews, May, Newhall, a word or two from whom will be highly esteemed and prized by all. J. Edwards.