This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The appearance of a few plants of this charming flower at the exhibition of the Horticultural Society at Chiswick on Saturday last, reminds me that a few remarks respecting it at this season may possibly prove useful This variety is commonly called the Winter-flowering Carnation, from the desirable characteristic it possesses of blooming throughout that season. The name of Tree Carnation may be familiar to some, as the plant itself is not of recent introduction, although very few varieties seem originally to have been known, and those have now been entirely superseded by sorts lately imported; for it is our continental neighbors who have been so successful in raising them, and to whom we are principally indebted for these invaluable acquisitions; for not only are the varieties now more diversified in color, but their growth and habit are altogether improved. In addition to their bright and varied colors, they are deliciously fragrant, a desideratum which cannot be too highly appreciated, some of the varieties being equal in perfume to the common Clove. Persons desirous of cultivating this tribe of Carnations should procure nice young plants, say in March, and keep them in a cool frame until the weather permits them to be exposed entirely to the open air; but, even in spring the lights should be taken off whenever it is practicable.
Those who have old plants should strike cuttings about the middle of March, as young plants grow rapidly throughout the summer, and make by far the best specimens for winter blooming. Before taking cuttings, the plants should be put into a warm house, or one that is kept rather close; and those who have not this convenience should put them in the warmest part of the greenhouse; if this is done, the plants are excited to grow, and if the cuttings are then taken off, they will strike root more readily. Care should be taken to strike only from vigorous plants, and to select strong and healthy cuttings; for if this is not done, and the cuttings are taken from delicate and cankery plants, the colors of some of the varieties are inclined to run, besides which, the plants always maintain a sickly appearance. Tree Carnations will supply an abundance of cuttings, as most of the varieties continually throw out a profusion of laterals, which can be taken off at any season without injury to the parent plant; indeed, taking a few of them off in autumn has rather a tendency to strengthen the flowering shoots than otherwise.
To insure cuttings taking root, either late in autumn or in spring, they must be struck in a little heat, but the cutting pots should not be covered with a glass, for if this is done, the cuttings will fog or damp off; besides which it is not necessary; and if no glass be used, they will want occasionally looking over, and any grass carefully removed that is likely to create damp. After the cuttings are well rooted they should be potted singly into, say, 4-inch pots, and kept in a rather close and moist atmosphere until fully established, when they should be gradually hardened off in a cool frame. At this stage the tops may be pinched out, which will greatly assist the formation of nice plants. To those who have not the convenience of supplying warmth for striking cuttings during winter, I should recommend their being struck at the latter end of summer, to be potted off and kept in a cool frame during the winter, care being taken to keep them rather dry - a rule which should always be observed in wintering Carnations. The cutting pots rough pieces of turfy loam to prevent the soil from being carried through the sherd*; after this, take equal proportions of loam and silver sand, mix together, and fill within a quarter of an inch of the rim, then complete by filling up with silver sand.
Tree Carnations will thrive luxuriantly in a good maiden soil or loam mixed with a little silver Band, to which may be added a slight sprinkling of leaf-mold; the same soil may be used throughout the season, except when the plants are first shifted from the store pot, when a little more silver sand should be used. In spring the plants should be removed from the frame, and placed upon an open border, in any favorable situation; but first prepare it by spreading a thin layer of ashes, which will prevent worms from entering the pots. If at this time the plants require potting, a shift should be given them, but care most be taken not to over-pot them. I find that many varieties thrive better if gradually shifted into their blooming pots, say from 3-inch into a 6-inch.pot, and so on in proportion. The plants are comparatively no trouble during summer; they merely want watering, and sometimes stirring up the surface soil; but as they grow, care must be taken to secure the stems nicely with some nest sticks. The principal insects that attack them are green fly; which is easily removed by sprinkling with a little tobacco-water. If the weather and situation prove excessively hot in the summer, the plants may be removed with advantage to a border that is slightly shaded from the mid-day sun.
If the above mode of treatment is followed, by the autumn the plants will have thrown up from three to eight stems each, and be laden with a profusion of buds, which, if the plants are removed to a greenhouse as soon as the weather is beginning to get damp and cold, will expand, and afford a continuance of blossoms throughout the winter. These Carnations are not only valuable for their display in the green-house, but are, I may say, unequalled as a winter flower for the boquet and other purposes to which cut flowers are applied. The following are the names and colors of 12 of the best and most distinct varieties: - Attila, scarlet and white flake; Belle Zora, salmon pink, striped and mottled with crimson; Gassandra, bright cerise; Gertrude, lavender, mottled with white; Incomparable, deep rose, striped with crimson; La Sermi, blush white, mottled with rose; La Vestale, scarlet self; Le Zephir, purple; Madonna, blush, striped, and mottled with crimson; Proserpinr, large dark crimson; The Baron, white, mottled with rose on the edge; Union, crimson mottled with white. - W. B., in Gardeners' Chronicle.