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.
In the estimation of many the Cineraria holds an important place as a green-house plant; and when the brilliancy and variety of their colors are considered, their fresh and luxuriant appearance, the ease with which they can be obtained and cultivated, this regard seems by no means misplaced. They are not difficult to manage, but, like all other plants, there are modes of treatment which suit them better than others; and, having grown them for many years with tolerable success, a few hints relating to what we consider the best way of doing so, might not be unacceptable to some of the readers of the Horticulturist.
The most common way of propagating them is by sowing the seeds annually; and by doing this in August, the plants will be in good condition for flowering in the green-house from January, if desirable, until May of the succeeding year. The seed may be sown in shallow pans or in pots well drained, placing them in a cool, sheltered situation, taking care not to saturate the soil in watering, and at the same time never allowing it to become dry. The most suitable soil to use is loam, leaf-mould, and sand, in about equal parts. By adding a little charcoal in a powdered state, the germination of the seeds will be greatly facilitated, and a vigor bestowed upon the plants which otherwise they might not possess. The plants, when sufficiently large to handle, may be potted at once into the smallest sized pots, placing them in a frame or pit, so as to shelter them from rains and shade them from sunshine. In a few days the shade might be removed at all times except during the heat of the day, when the sun shines. It is better to keep them rather close for a week or two in the daytime; should the weather be dry and hot, shading, when necessary, as, by so doing, they will suffer less from ex-haustion, than when fully exposed to a dry, hot atmosphere.
By removing the lights every night when rain is not apprehended, and sprinkling the plants over-head, at the same time dampening the ground several feet beyond where they stand, they will grow rapidly, and be fit to shift into larger pots in about four weeks, using in this operation loam and rotted manure in about equal parts, the charcoal not made finer than it can readily be done with a hammer, or the back of a spade; and should the loam naturally be fine in the texture, it would be greatly improved by sifting the finest particles out of it before mixing with the other materials. If all goes well, they may be shifted into the pots in which they are intended to flower, about the first of December; and if really fine plants are wanted, these should not be less than nine inches; the compost used the same as last, only not quite so fine, and a little hen manure added, if it can be got.
But although raising the plants from seed every season is almost the only way in which they are propagated, it is evident that by this mode special favorites will be lost, as "Nature," in cases of this kind, "never repeats herself." It may be true that some difficulties stand in the way of preserving them through the summer, but these are by no means insurmountable, and, provided the proper means are adopted, not even difficult.
The plants wished to be preserved, if seedlings, should be cut down before exhausting themselves in flowering, and top dressed with fine mould, taking care to pinch off all shoots afterwards which manifest a disposition to flower. In the case of old varieties, instead of trying to preserve the old plants, it is better to have a set of young ones propagated for this purpose in the fall or early winter. These should be in quart pots; and if not allowed to flower, will be in fine condition for keeping against another year, while altogether larger and finer specimens can be made of them than seedlings. As soon as the season will permit, they should be set out of doors, in a shaded and airy situation, where they may remain until about the first of August, when they should be taken out of the pots and the balls reduced, and put into such sized pots as will permit of their being again shifted before they are transferred to those in which they are intended to flower. Throughout the summer they should never be allowed to get dry, and, as is not unlikely to happen, thrip, or some other enemy, may take to them as if they were all their own; if so, they can be cleaned by immersing in water containing two ounces of Gishurst Compound to the gallon.
As during this season they will be in a state of comparative rest, little attention will be necessary, and no alarm need be felt, should they even look a little unsightly. If the crown can be preserved with even tolerable success, all will be well, as, in the autumn, after being re-potted into fresh mould, they will start and grow with the utmost luxuriance. Such plants as we now speak of, when potted in the fall, may be placed in a frame for a week or two, and kept rather close; but after they have fairly started into growth, they will do better fully exposed, until they are in danger from frosts - so placing them, however, as to be screened from the midday sun.
In the routine of management perfect success very much depends upon the way in which they are watered, and it would not be difficult to prove that the want of it, in many cases, is owing as much to this as any other cause. When they are allowed to become so dry as to wilt, or when the mould in the pots is all the time saturated with water, they are in a fair way of being spoiled. In the one case they will be weak and sickly, and liable to be preyed upon by many enemies; and in the other, as they receive more water than is necessary for their own wants, the leaves will have a blanched appearance, while many of them will suddenly droop and die; the flower stems will grow long in the joints, and the flowers be few and straggling. Too much importance, therefore, can not be placed upon the mechanical condition of the soil in which they are grown. The Cineraria is a soft and rapid-growing plant, with large and extremely hygrometri-cal roots, clearly indicating their being necessarily possessed of great absorbing power, to suit the requirements of the plant.
If, then, the mould with which they are surrounded is close and adhesive, it is easy to perceive they will just be in a condition in which they can not fully develop themselves, and perform those offices so needful in the economy of the plant Hence arises the rule in practice not to make the mould too fine, but rather rough, and capable of taking in water like a sponge, and giving it out with as much facility. When this is the case, there need be little danger apprehended from too liberally supplying them with water, as the provision made for its escape will be such as to render it impossible for the mould ever to become water-logged. And then, too, the air will readily penetrate the entire mass, which, in addition to other benefits, will lighten the temperature of the soil, and, of course, promote a more vigorous action in the roots - a point of the utmost importance, whether in regard to growing a Cineraria in a pot, or a grape vine without one.
[The Cineraria is an old but too much neglected plant; Mr Veitch has done well in calling attention to it, and furnishing directions for its cultivation. It is in all respects a beautiful and showy flower. Our practice has been to propagate esteemed varieties by cuttings put in charcoal and sand, the cuttings being taken mainly from the base of the plant. - Ed].
List of new Cinerarias raised and flowered in America, many of them surpassing any hitherto imported from Europe: they are selected from upwards of 500 seedlings, and form not only a most beautiful, but a distinct and unique collection; they are all of excellent form and substance, some of the individual flowers measuring from one to one and a half inch in diameter. This entire collection is now, March 12th, in most luxuriant health and flower. One specimen measured this day, gave the following dimensions: circumference, nine feet - from the pot to summit of flowers; 21 inches across the foliage; one leaf 10 1/2 inches.
No. 1. A very bright rosy purple, with a pure white ring round a very dark disc; a great improvement on Magnum Bonutn; fine form and excellent habit; one of the most beautiful varieties ever raised.
No. 3. Lavender blue; very large flower petals, wide and of good substance; habit, dwarf and compact.
No. 4. Purple crimson, of fine form and excellent habit; very dwarf. Extra.
No. 5. Deep blue, of fine form, and habit of plant unsurpassed.
No. 6. White ground, with a violet purple disc; slightly and delicately tipped with soft lavender blue; habit of plant extra fine; a delicate and beautiful variety.
No. 7. White, with a fine rosy crimson edging; habit and form of flower extra fine and effective; a great improvement on Optima.
No. 8. White ground, beautifully tipped with a delicate violet blue; habit dwarf, and fine; one of the finest of its class.
No. 9. A most attractive and beautiful variety; a bright amaranth, with a small ring of pure white round a dark disc; habit of plant dwarf, and a very profuse flowerer.
No. 10. White, with a deep ring of light blue; fine form and extra fine habit; a very fine variety.
No. 11. White, beautifully tipped with a delicate violet blue; habit very dwarf and compact.
No. 12. Pure white ground, distinctly tipped with bright rosy amaranth; fine form and excellent habit.
No. 13. Pure white, heavily and evenly tipped with lavender; a fine flower of great substance: a noble variety.