The drought has served most unmistakably to bring out the value of Petunias as bedding plants. Repeatedly have I seen them furnishing masses of effective colours without that intensity of hue so peculiar to Scarlet Pelargoniums. A little seed raised in March on a gentle heat will give an abundance of plants, and if the strain be good, some pretty things are sure to result. In my own case I use two or three very nice striped flowers obtained from what is known as Bull's Strain of Petunia. I find that, in contrast to other strains of seed I have attempted to grow, these have a peculiarly wiry and not very gross habit, and are remarkably free blooming, and have flowers quite rounded inform, of thick substance, capable of withstanding both heat and sun. These selected flowers I propagate from cuttings in February, and by the end of May I have an abundance of nice stuff. Either growing in pots, or if, as sometimes happens, I have not space enough to house them, I place a number of rooted cuttings in boxes, and when planted out they lay hold of the soil, and are soon pictures of bloom.

Those requiring a larger quantity of plants than I do for my modest little parterre, would need to begin propagating earlier in the season, say at Christmas, by putting their stock plants into a brisk heat, such as a Cucumber or Pine pit. Here they will begin to break at every eye, and by the time the shoots are 2 inches in length will be the very time also to begin striking cuttings. These placed in a gentle bottom-heat will soon root, and in their turn supply tops for cuttings. Then comes the process of hardening off, and there results an abundance of plants for bedding purposes.

To keep beds of Petunias of a neat symmetrical shape, pinching out must be done. If you want beds of Petunias that shall be indeed beds, and masses of bloom, weekly pinching must be persevered in. This should be done by shortening the shoots to one bud above the opening flower. So treated, they are continually throwing fresh flower-buds in the most admired profusion.

I have observed on two or three occasions that Messrs Bell & Thorpe of Stratford-on-Avon have a very nice strain of Petunias, as witness what they exhibited at the recent show of the Royal Horticultural Society at Oxford. Similar in habit and as fine in shape as those of Mr Bull's, they appear to run mainly on mottled flowers, by no means a bad trait, as mottled flowers are preferred by many for bedding purposes. Others attach themselves to pure self colours, and find these very satisfactory. Thus, a good strain of Petunias will be found to satisfy all these requirements; but my chief point is, select from your seedlings such flowers (in combination with proper habits of growth) as you best fancy, and propagate by cuttings so as to get plants to fill the flower-beds the following year. D. E. B.

Petunias As Bedding Plants #1

I can fully endorse all that has been said by D. E. B. in praise of the Petunia as a bedding plant. I think that seedlings may be confidently depended on to produce good free-blooming varieties, if the strain be a good one. I have had glorious beds of Petunias, the plants having been raised from seed; and these beds have received the largest share of admiration this season. The seed should be sown in seed-pans, or wide-mouthed 42-sized pots, which ought to be well drained with crocks to about one-third of their depth, over which should be placed about an inch of the coarse siftings of the soil. This keeps the fine soil from being washed down among the drainage. A good drainage should be given to all pots and pans in which fine seeds of this character are to be raised. The finely-sifted soil can be used for sowing the seed in. I sow about the first week in March, and a vinery or cucumber-pit will suit as a temperature in which to raise the plants. As soon as the rough leaves are formed, the pots should be removed to a greenhouse, and placed near the glass to keep the plants from being drawn.

When large enough to handle, the plants are pricked off into pans, or shallow boxes, and placed in a little warmth for about a week or ten days; this gives them a fine start, and by the time they are wanted for planting out, they are of strong robust growth.

After the temporary sojourn in warmth, they are removed to a greenhouse or cold frame, and here they are hardened off till required for bedding out by the middle of May.

As I was passing from the Cambridge Railway Station to the Botanic Gardens of the University town on the 15th of August last, my attention was attracted by the charming appearance of a villa garden, the beds of which were planted on the mixed system, prominent being Petunias, which were bright, gay, and effective.

William Plester.

Elsenham Hall Gardens.