This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
Amongst sweet-scented flowers, nothing is more appreciated or gives greater pleasure and satisfaction than a few Tea Rose buds in the winter and spring. The season is fast coming upon us when plants for the supply of flowers next winter and spring should be increased and prepared, which can be done either by striking the cuttings from half-ripened wood in a gentle bottom-heat, or by grafting on the Manetti stock. Of course plants can be purchased for a very small outlay as soon as they are struck or grafted, and grown on; but my remarks are intended for those who wish to increase the stock without purchasing.
It would be superfluous to refer to the mode of striking the Manetti for stocks, which is so easily accomplished if cut in lengths of 9 or 10 inches, and inserted into the ground: nearly every one will strike. It is useless to waste time in preparing the stocks, as a quantity can be purchased at little cost, rooted and ready for potting. Supposing the stocks are rooted, they are best potted during the winter and plunged outdoors, - cutting the roots well in, so that they can be potted into 2 - inch pots, using loam and sand, and a little well - decomposed manure, at the same time shortening back the growths on the top of the stock.
The stocks will be ready for grafting in March, or earlier, if placed in a cool house or frame, provided they have made roots sufficient in their pots by that time, and the wood for grafting is ready, which should be half ripened. It is therefore necessary that a batch of plants be started into growth early, from which the grafts are to be taken. If the stocks have not been potted in early winter, they should be potted at once, and placed in a frame to commence growing, instead of being placed outside. When sufficient young roots are made, and the sap is flowing freely, the operation can be performed.
The best system of grafting is that known as tongue-grafting, as the operator can use a stock of very slender dimensions. In performing the work, the stock can be cut off within 2 inches of the soil, and a notched slice should be cut through the bark of the stock about f of an inch in length, against which the cut portion of the graft should be fitted, and made secure with a small bass tie, and then well rubbed over with grafting wax or clay, - either will answer the purpose.
After this portion of the work is completed, these grafted plants should be placed where the temperature can be kept at 60°. They are best in a close frame in the propagating-house, or under hand-lights, where they can receive a little bottom-heat, if possible, which assists them to unite more quickly. I have been very successful with them placed in a vinery with the above temperature, and without any bottom-heat, although they are longer before taking to the stock. They require to be kept moist at the roots, and well syringed until the grafts have properly taken, and shaded from strong sun. When the grafts are well united to the stock, growth will soon commence rapidly; and care must be exercised that the frame is not kept too close to cause the growth to be weakly. As soon as 4 inches of growth is made, they should be transferred from the small into 5-inch pots, using the same compost. In this size the scion can be buried in potting underneath, the soil, which is advisable. By adopting this method, young roots are soon thrown out from the place where they are worked, and in due time they will be on their own roots independent of the stock.
The position now suitable for the plants is a low pit with a hot-water pipe in it, where the desired temperature can be kept, and air admitted on favourable occasions to strengthen the young shoots as they develop. They should still be shaded from strong sun. It is advisable to keep the pit close for ten days or a fortnight after potting, until they have taken to the new soil. The plants will still receive much benefit from a little bottom-heat, if it can be given them, and the cultivator will soon see a great difference in the plants over those that are on a cold surface.
The potting must be attended to as the plants require it, until they are put into 9-inch pots, which size we consider large enough the first season. If the plants have a suitable pit devoted to them, and a gentle bottom-heat until the external atmosphere is sufficiently warm to render artificial heat unnecessary, the young shoots will grow apace. The flower-buds should be picked off as they appear, and the plants fumigated at the first appearance of greenfly. When the external atmosphere will allow, the plants must be grown under more airy conditions. Such varieties as Gloire de Dijon and Marechai Niel, etc, will make tremendous shoots by the end of the season, which should not be stopped, but should be well ripened in the autumn, and in early spring they will produce a flower from nearly every bud along the shoot. I have seen from a Marechal Niel, grafted in March, forty flowers the following spring, although the plants were planted out in a prepared border at the end of June, - consequently the plant grew more rapidly than it would have done in a pot.
I might say that this variety (Marechal Niel), according to my experience, refuses to do well upon the Manetti for a stock: it soon dies off. Such has been my experience. It will succeed well the first year, and then the stock appears to die. It should be potted or planted as deeply as possible to get it on its own roots; or, worked on the seedling briar, it appears to do very well.
Such varieties as Niphetos, Isabella Sprunt, Rubens, Madame Fal-cot, Devoniensis, Safrano, and other varieties too numerous to mention, grow more bushy than the above two; and if grown coolly in the latter part of the summer up to October, and then placed into a temperature of 55°, they will soon commence and continue to flower more or less through the whole winter, well repaying the cultivator for the trouble bestowed upon them.
There is nothing better than Ewing's Infallible Composition if the plants are affected with mildew.