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.
Many who have the care of window plants seem to think that the operation of watering is one of the simplest items incident to their care, and will hardly thank us for advice on this point, and yet we may safely hazard the assertion that more plants are injured and more fail to reach their greatest perfection from an improper mode of watering than from all other causes combined.
To so water the various varieties that their different wants shall all be supplied and no more, is an art acquired by but few, and the credit which some receive for fine collections is often due to the proper observance of this one item.
It should be kept in mind that the duty of the water is to dissolve and convey to the roots of the plant the food which they need; some plants must have a season of comparative rest, and if such are watered liberally during this time they will keep on growing and the necessary rest is not obtained. When any of my lady friends tell me that they succeed very well with certain classes of plants, such as the Fuchsia, Calla, Lobelias and Ivies, and fail with other, I at once set them down as being profuse waterers, who by too much water injure or destroy such plants as will not bear it. On the other hand there are those who fail with this class of plants and succeed well with others, because their mode of watering does not supply enough for the wants of one class, but is about the proper amount for another.
Many plants are permanently injured by water remaining in the saucer; others often suffer from a bad selection of the soil.
Some of our amateur florists fail with a certain class of plants, of which the Begonia may be taken as a type, because they shower the leaves with cold water, but for this very reason are eminently successful with another class, of which the Camellia will serve as a type.
As a general rule, from which there are few variations, the texture of the leaf may be taken as an index of their power to resist the application of water. Plants having porous, open or fleshy leaves covered with soft down should be seldom, if ever, moistened, while those having glossy or hard leaves will do all the better if washed frequently.
Our Ivies, Hoyas, and Coboeas seem to laugh at us after a good dashing, but the Begonias, Coleus and plants of the same class do not appear to appreciate it. Horticola.