This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The amateur - the novice so to speak - is much inclined to go to the professional man when puzzled how to treat his plants; and the lady whose only conservatory is the window-room with its two score pots, is quite sure she has but to ask the florist, to be sure she can easily get all the secrets he knows. But we will out with the secret though we spoil the tale. He - the professional grower - is as often indebted to a good stroke of luck for his success, as for any absolute knowledge of his subject. In many cases, indeed, the lady window gardener who does not profess to know much of gardening, will beat him in growing pot plants every time. The writer of this has been very vain of his success in the growth of plants. But as he goes through his beloved district of Germantown, and notes the beautiful pot plants growing in the windows by the descendants of the famous old Dutch gardeners of the old burg, the recollection of the premiums he has taken for pot plants would make him blush, only for the fact that, since he became an Editor, blushing is among his lost arts. Just why these plants do so well he does not know, nor do their growers. If you inquire, they tell you they just look after them, and this is all. We have come to conclude that this is really all.
The plants seem to know when their master loves them. They are just happy in this love and contentedly go their way. We are sure no hints in any book, no teaching even of "so able a journal as the Gardeners' Monthly," will ever enable any one to be a successful grower of window plants; you just love them, and look after them, and luck - if you will have it so - will do the rest. Why the florist does not know himself why things turn out thus and so!
In this vicinity last year, the Ethiopian or Calla Lily would not flower to any extent, but how wonderfully it grew. We believe it was more or less so everywhere. Large growers had scarcely any flowers even by New Year. This season, with precisely the same soil and treatment, so far as any one can tell, the plants are dwarf, stocky, and so full of flowers, that by the first of December, many expect to have more bloom than last year in the middle of the season. All this shows on what inscrutable causes success often turns. The best advice to give a young plant grower is, to love the plants and just look after them. That is all.
Basket plants often suffer from too much or too little water. If from too little, the leaves curl or fall, and the plants have a dried up appearance. If too much, they get yellow and drop off. As a rule, a basket in a warm room should be taken down once a week, and soaked iu a bucket of water, then drained and hung up again. Every day during the rest of the week a little water may be given the plants, and something put under to catch the drip. Some baskets have no provision for the escape of moisture. These are dangerous. Still some people manage to watch closely, and do well with them. Fern cases do best when given a little sun; for, though ferns are supposed to grow naturally in shady spots, it is because there is generally a more humid atmosphere there. If they can get this moisture, they rather like light.
Insects are apt to be troublesome in greenhousesparticularly red spider, green fly and mealy bug. A free use of the syringe is a good preventive. Tobacco smoke, in two or three light doses, is still the best thing for the green fly. The red spider, fortunately, shows his depredations more villainously than most insects - light yellow lines or spots marking almost at once the scenes of its depredations. If one has good eyes, the finger and thumb will keep him down, as a slight and rapid passing of the finger over the leaves easily crushes his little body. When he becomes an "army with banners "more scientific approaches must be made to give any show of success. It is not often, however, that one who thoroughly understands plants suffers much from insects. He or she seems to have an intuitive knowledge on the first appearance of an insect enemy that something is wrong, and the foe is subdued before it has time to leave an extensive progeny behind.