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.
THIs beautiful tribe of plants, deserve more attention than they generally receive. As winter flowering green-house plants we value them very highly; and they bloom most profusely even where the temperature is not kept sufficiently warm to flower heliotropes. We place great value on them and the Chinese Primrose for green-house blooming, as both are easily managed and flower well, without extra care or cultivation.
Sometime during the month of September wo shake ont the bulbs from the pots they have occupied during summer, and having prepared some good potting soil (we use rotted sods as our only compost or soil for potting all our plants) the roots are set in 4 or 6 inch pots; we usually place the smaller growing kinds rather thickly, as they sooner fill up the pot, but finer flowers are produced from good sized single roots. After potting-, they arc set in the green-house, on the front shelf, or anywhere most convenient, as they will not begin to form leaves for a week or two.
Very little water is required at this period, indeed for a week or two the soil will afford sufficient moisture, if watered immediately after planting. Wet soil will prove very injurious and prevent the growth of roots, but when the soil is rather dry the bulbs seem to root more readily and they certainly grow with more vigor; a good and regular supply of water will be requisite when once the growth has become vigorous and the foliage plentiful. After they are over the flowering period, less water will again be requisite, and a period of rest follows the dying down of the foliage, during which time the soil should not be watered, unless the pots arc fully exposed to the sun, we plunge them in the soil, behind an arborvitae hedge, where they rarely receive any further care until we look them up for potting in September.
There are numerous kinds, all arc pretty; many of them, such as Bowii, exceedingly so. O. hirtella; O, lutea; O. pulchella O. lepida; O. purpurea; O. ruhro-flava; O. gcniculata, and O versicolor, are some of the best that we have been able to flower from time to time, - W., Bloomhill.