This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
As the Verbena merits a place, and most justly, among our popular florists' flowers, perhaps a few hints on its cultivation in pots may be acceptable to those who have not yet adopted that mode of culture. I know of no plant more useful or ornamental as a pot-plant, for decorating the greenhouse during the summer season, when the proper inmates of that structure are enjoying the open air. If we take into consideration its graceful habit, the variety and brilliancy of its colours, which offer hues for every taste, and above all, the lengthened period it continues to produce its lovely blossoms, it is unrivalled, and ought to be more generally grown in pots as specimens, more especially now that the numerous varieties are so much improved, both in form and colour. The present season has been productive of some gems of the first class; and if the Verbena continue to be improved as it has been during these few years past, I have no doubt that the time is not far distant when it will form one of the leading features at our floral exhibitions.
I do not know if my system of propagating this favourite be new; but as it is simple, certain, and expeditious, it may be as well to state how I proceed from the commencement. I fill shallow pans (such as are used for placing under flower-pots) to within a quarter of an inch of the top with silver-sand, and pour in water sufficient just to cover the sand. I then make the cuttings in the usual way, and push them into the wet sand; put the labels to them, and place them in a hot-bed frame where the heat ranges from 65 to 70 deg., always keeping the sand wet. The advantages to be realised by propagating the Verbena in this way are, that the cuttings never require to be shaded in the brightest sunshine, consequently the young plants are not drawn up long and lanky; the cuttings never stop growing from the time they are put in until they are ready to pot off, which is in about six or seven days, when they may be drawn out of the wet sand, with a bunch of roots, without injuring a single fibre. The best time to commence operations for growing specimen Verbenas in pots is February, or as soon as vegetation commences for the season.
It is desirable to pot a few of the best autumn-struck plants for the sake of early bloom; but they never make such handsome specimens, nor continue so long in good health, as plants raised from cuttings in spring.
As soon as the cuttings are well rooted, they should be potted into sixty-size pots, and placed in a gentle heat for a few days, until they are established in the pots; then top them, and harden them by degrees; never allow them to remain long in heat after they begin to grow, or they will form long, naked stems. As soon as the pots are filled with roots, shift into thirty-twos, and from thirty-twos into twelve-sized pots. During the growth of the plant, all shoots must be stopped, in order to cause the plants to grow bushy; and never allow them to flower until the plant is properly formed, and has as many leading shoots as are wanted.
The compost in which I grow the Verbena is, equal parts turfy loam, leaf-mould, and peat, with a little silver-sand added, to keep the soil open. I water twice a-week with liquid manure, and occasionally syringe over head with clean water to cleanse the foliage. If the saving of the seed is no object, all flowers ought to be cut off as soon as they begin to decay. I need scarcely add, that the grand secret in the successful culture of this, as well as of all plants, is, plenty of drainage; without this no plant will continue long in good health.
If green-fly should attack your plants, fumigate with tobacco; for if the fly once get a-head, the plants will never recover sufficiently to give satisfaction.
Mildew is another enemy which must be looked after. As soon as it is perceived, dust the plants with a little sulphur, which will soon stop it from doing much mischief; always remembering the old saying, that "a stitch in time saves nine".
The following are a few varieties which have given me great satisfaction, and which are useful, either for out or in-door work, and fit for exhibition either in pots or in a cut state.
*Annica (Chauviere), blush, purple eye; good shape.
*Avelanche (Pearson), white.
*Barkerii (Barker), deep scarlet.
Boule de feu (Girling), vivid scarlet.
*Bicolor Grandiflora (Van Houtte), crimson scarlet.
*Brilliant (Young), bright scarlet.
Cyclops (Smith), rosy pink; large.
*Conqueror (Smith), dark purple.
Clothilde (Chauviere), striped; very showy.
Comte de Paris (Dufoy), rose and lilac, shaded; fine.
Captivation (Smith), orange scarlet; showy.
*Defiance (Robinson), brilliant scarlet; large, noble-flowered sorts.
Duchesse d'Aumale (Dufoy), pale blue; good.
Diversity (Beadle), lilac and purple; shaded and curious.
Duke of Norfolk (Bell), orange scarlet; fine.
*Emperor of Scarlets (Gaines), showy.
Excelsa Superb (Smith), large, purple rose; good.
Eliza, large, crimson; fine.
*Emperor of China (Ivery), rich crimson; fine.
Edmondiana, crimson, fine, large truss.
Epomine (Chauviere), pretty, salmon rose, crimson spot.
*Felix (Chauviere) crimson.
Gem (Smith), fine, large, pink, rose centre.
Gem of the West, fine novel rose.
*Heloise (Dufov), purple, good shape and habit.
Ibrahim Pasha (Smith), dark mulberry.
*Imperatrice Josephine (Salter), blue.
Justine (Chauviere), light lilac.
La Reine (Salter), pink, rose centre.
Lord John Russell (Smith), vermilion; large and well shaped.
La Coquette, pale pink, rose centre.
La Villageoise (Dufoy), blue, white centre; large truss or head.
*Lenormand (Chauviere), rich crimson, purple centre; exfine.
Madame Passy (Chauviere), mottled blue; coarse grower.
*Madame Rattier (Chauviere), rose, carmine centre, showy; bad shape.
*Morning Star (Wyness), rosy purple, white eye; very attractive.
*Minerva (Chauviere), fine-shaped rose.
*Oberon (Youell), dark claret.
Ochroleuca (Bell), dull yellow.
*Orpha, (Chauviere), lavender, purple spot; fine shape, and free.
Picta (Bell), shaded crimson.
Perfection (Chauviere), pale lavender, large trusses.
*princess Alice (Wyness), white, with distinct deep cherry spot on each segment of the corolla; fine shape, large truss, and free. *Rosea (Grey), rose.
*Royal Purple (Young), fine, dark purple. *Speciosissima (Youell), bright crimson red.
St. Margaret (Barker), rich crimson, violet shot; beautiful variety.
*Tricolor (Dufoy), pale pink, carmine centre; showy, small, and free.
*Tomy (Chauviere), dark crimson.
*White Perfection (Smith), fine.
*Vicomte de Saurral (Chauviere), rich crimson scarlet.
Vixen (Smith), grey lilac; good shape, bad grower.
*Venus de Canova (Chauviere), pale lavender, rich large purple centre; exfine shape. *Vulcan Superb (Bell), bright crimson, scarlet; rich and fine. *Valentine de Sareuse (Chauviere), finest blue. *Wonder of Scarlets (Ivery), light scarlet.
Those marked thus * are well adapted for bedding-out purposes.