The Polyanthus, though not clothed in the dazzling vestment of the Hyacinth or the Tulip, is nevertheless worthy of a quiet-sounding note of praise. Has it not been the inseparable associate of both for ages; sharing in just proportion their popularity (as has been demonstrated by the wide extent of its cultivation), as well as the admiration harmoniously awarded those favourite flowers? The Polyanthus in olden times was chiefly cultivated as a border plant, separately, and in beds, as also in pots under glass, for exhibition and competition purposes. In addition to these different modes, it is found that it is equally suitable for the embellishment of the conservatory in early spring, when that structure requires all the variety that can be collected to make it look gay. And the writer can assure those who have not experienced their effectiveness as such, that they will be surprised at their qualities after a fair trial.

The subject of our remarks, as argued by some of the best of authorities, is only a variety or modification, in form and colours, of the well-known wild Primrose (Primula vulgaris), which is a native of most countries of Europe, usually found growing in woods and sheltered lanes, particularly where the soil is clayey and moist. Besides the Polyanthus, it has been asserted that the entire family Primula, which includes Auricula, Cowslip, and Oxlip, have all originated from the same parentage, and that the great diversity in form and feature shown in the varieties is due to cultivation.

The common Primrose in its wild state is only, or with rare exceptions otherwise, furnished with "peduncles," - namely, those delicate footstalks found each supporting a single corolla; but the result of cultivation has proved that, in addition to those peduncles, a short" scape "is attached, concealed deeply amongst the leaves; therefore it can easily be conceived how by the elongation of this " scape," or main stem, on the summit of which all the peduncles or flower-supports are clustered, the inflorescence of the Polyanthus and others assumes the umbel form, instead of retaining the original character of the Primrose.


This is effected either by dividing the roots, or by-offsets, and by seed when it is desired to obtain new varieties. First, allow us to discuss its culture from seed. Some people recommend sowing the seed in July, just a few weeks after it has ripened. And their mode of procedure is to hang up the stems, with the seeds still in the pods, until sowing time, enclosing the whole in light paper bags to prevent accident. Our own plan has been somewhat different to that, inasmuch as we sow the seed in December, and place the pots or pans on a shelf in a cool house, where the seeds soon vegetate and grow steadily and prosperously. The seedlings are planted separately as soon as they can be safely handled, putting them in lines again into boxes, and replacing them on the shelf or under frames in a warm sheltered exposure. The soil ought to be principally rich loam, rather inclining to clay than sand, with, in addition, a liberal proportion of much-reduced cow-manure and rotten leaves; drain the boxes well, and any amount of water may be given them with impunity after the seedlings have taken to the new soil. On the occasions of bright sunshine, never fail to afford effective shade, and sprinklings of water.

A dry atmosphere is sadly unfavourable to their health and growth.

General Culture

Out of doors the Polyanthus will be found very accommodating. The aspect that suits it best is quite the opposite of most other plants. Give it a shady corner of the garden, with moisture beneath, without the soil being soused; neither is it fond of the drip from trees, which does not hurt the plants themselves so much as the flowers. Plant in lines, after the bed has been enriched with manure, and otherwise well prepared. The rows of plants should be one foot apart, and the plants stand nine inches in the row. As may be expected, few flowers will appear until the end of the succeeding summer, but the plants will be all the more benefited by that. The following spring will well repay the delay by the display of blossom and the vigour of the plants too. Thus much about beds - let us now consider, in a few sentences, their culture in pots.

It is only required to plant singly into small pots the strongest of the seedlings when pricking out the others into boxes or pans. The same soil and attention to drainage is necessary - only, instead of returning these to the shelf on which they germinated, quarter them in a cold frame, plunged in sawdust, sand, or coal-ashes. By the beginning of summer those plants will be established in their pots, and in all probability will require a larger shift; this should not be neglected a day after it is necessary, it being very important that they experience no restraint by insufficiency of nourishment, or getting cramped at the roots. When potted, plunge the plants on the shady side of a wall all the succeeding summer months, repotting again if required. The final shift ought to be into pots 6 inches diameter. Now, if massive succulent plants he the desired aim, never fail in the supply of water, both at the roots, and overhead from the syringe; and to have robust foliage is the certain promise of grand flowers. Eeplunge them in the frames, where they may be benefited by the autumn sun.

The object now being to assist the formation of the flowers in the crowns, less water will, as may be supposed, be required from this stage onward till spring, when fresh growth takes place; then the plants must be stimulated by a top-dressing of fresh loam and rotted cow-manure in equal proportions, giving them a soaking of water subsequently. Water without stint, never once allowing the soil to assume dryness; remove the withered leaves, sprinkle overhead in the afternoon of sunny days; and above all, ventilate well, taking off the sashes all day long, unless in frost or storm. As the flowers begin to open, transfer them to the conservatory, allotting them a shady stance. By following these instructions a succession of flowers may be obtained from March to June: this has been the writer's experience.