This section is from the book "The Gardener V3", 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.
The time of year is again at hand when all winter-flowering plants will or should be placed in their winter quarters. The nights have turned cold rather earlier than usual in this locality, and plants have in consequence been placed where they are safe. It frequently happens that when housing time arrives we are not ready for it, and plants are often checked while houses are being prepared for their reception. Sooner than run the risk of failure in this respect, it is better to house the plants, and then wash and do the necessary cleaning to the houses afterwards. Great difficulty is often experienced in finding suitable places for the different plants during the autumn months. Many cultivators have to contend with such disadvantages, and yet in the end achieve wonderful success. The spring is a busy season, and plant and fruit houses are often too crowded with plants; but in autumn these are comparatively useless for many subjects except those only that require sheltering from frost. Many plants, such as Euphorbias, Poinsettias, Plumbagos, and others, will not do in fruit-houses, but require gentle warmth to bring them forward.
In too many instances, for want of room and proper accommodation, these plants are either starved or placed in strong heat, which causes them to make a second growth and become tall and leggy, to produce only poor flowers or bracts. Such plants only require gentle warmth to keep them moving until growth is completed, and the bracts or flower-buds about to form, when they can be developed in stronger heat. The early batches will have completed their growth, but successional plants must be encouraged for some time yet. Poinsettias are much improved, after they commence to form their bracts, if developed in a higher temperature - say about 65°. The bracts are not only brighter in colour, but larger in size. Celosias are also improved if their rich golden and crimson plumes are brought out in heat: a temperature 10° lower than the preceding will suit them well. Where these plants are in a backward state, they must be pushed forward with all possible speed. If in cold frames, they should be placed where heat can be given them, with a good circulation of air, and as close to the glass as possible, to keep them dwarf and sturdy. Celosias quickly draw up tall and weakly in heat if not given abundance of air, which is essential to their wellbeing.
Winter-flowering Begonias should be out of cold frames by this time, especially the Manicata type, or the leaves soon damp, as it is impossible after this season of the year to keep the atmosphere sufficiently dry to suit them. Damp is the greatest enemy to Begonias in the autumn • and they are more liable to suffer from it than from a little cold.
Cyclamen are amongst the most useful of plants, either for the conservatory or room decoration, and should by this time be showing a good quantity of flowers. The most forward plants, if wanted in flower early next month, should be placed on a shelf close to the glass, where the plants can enjoy a little warmth and a good circulation of air. This is necessary, as, when Cyclamen are placed in heat, the flowers quickly appear above the foliage, and soon draw up tall and weakly. The later batches can be kept cool for some time yet : any light position will suit them well where frost can be excluded; in fact they will do yet for some time in cold frames. These plants are not injured by their foliage being damp, which is sure to be the case every morning while in cold frames. To grow Cyclamen well, their foliage should never be allowed to become dry during the growing season. They soon fail to grow and do well if subject to a dry atmosphere. Daphne indica that has been standing outside should now have the protection of a cold frame, where abundance of air can be given when favourable. Any plants that may be wanted to flower early, and have their flower-buds well advanced, may be pushed gently forward, as their flowers are always acceptable whenever they are produced.
Frames should now be cleared of Heaths and Epacris, and the plants housed in light, airy structures, where frost can be excluded during severe weather. A few of the early-flowering kinds are invaluable for flowering during the month of November; and those that were pushed gently forward early in the season will have their flower-buds far advanced, and a little warmth will soon bring them into flower. Chrysanthemums may still be left outside, but in readiness for housing any time, should sharp frosty nights set in. Disbudding must be pushed on with the late plants, and the buds not required should be removed as soon as they can be discerned. Any that may be wanted to flower early should be taken indoors at once; and if early-flowering kinds are selected, there is no difficulty in having them in flower as early as required.
Salvias, Solanums, Callas, Bouvardias, and others that have been . planted out during the summer, and are yet unlifted, should be placed in pots without delay. Instead of placing them outside until root-action commences, they should occupy some of the frames from which other plants have been removed. They should be well watered, syringed, and kept close for a few days, if necessary, until established, and then be placed in their winter quarters.
Roman Hyacinths and early Narcissus, if potted up early in the season, will now have filled their pots with roots. When in this condition, they are ready to be pushed forward gently until they come into flower. W. Bardney.