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.
As the summer flowers wane, and previous to arranging the plants for winter, the house should undergo all necessary repairs. Fumigating strongly with sulphur will completely rout all the spider and bug families. After the plants are taken in, ample ventilation should be given. The house should not be dosed until there is indication of frost. The advantage and necessity for ceol, low night temperature will, in a few years, be more generally understood. The preserving of a uniform temperature has been the cause of many disappointments in the artificial cultivation of plants. Water must he judiciously applied. The supply must be gradually withdrawn as cold weather approaches, that plants may be better enabled to stand cold without injury. Let the quantity at each application be sufficient to thoroughly moisten all the soil, but lengthen the periods between the applications.
Withhold water from achemenes as soon as the leaves fade. Encourage young calceolarias, and cinerarias by careful watering. Syringe them slightly in the morning. All watering should be done in the early portion of the day. Cuttings of all half hardy greenhouse plants will strike root very readily at this season. Keep them regularly moist but not wet; a small frame with sash is the most convenient mode of propagating. Keep close and shaded during sunlight; remove the shade evening and morning, and open the sash at night.
Chinese Primroses may be shifted into six inch pots to flower. All plants intended for winter flowering should not be over-potted. The more roots the more flowers, or rather, the plants will flower most profusely when the pots are well filled with roots.
Many of the flower garden plants, carefully lifted and potted will afford a show of flowers during winter. Scarlet pelargoniums, salvias, spireas, wiegelas, Forsythia virsidissima are suitable for this purpose; place them in a shady and sheltered spot for a week or two, to encourage rooting.
Hyacinths and other bulbs should be potted early. A friable light turfy soil will suit them well; let the pots be particularly well drained. After potting, cover them with 8 or 10 inches of soil, or coal ashes. Here they will make roots, and when wanted to flower a few can be taken into the greenhouse. A succession of bloom can thus be kept up for many months.
In arranging the plants in their winter quarters, those of more tender nature should be placed at the warmest end of the house; these will include torenias, ixoras, lesohe-naultias, stepanotis, cyprepediums, &c; and further to insure their safe keeping, they should receive no more water than will barely keep them from wilting. See that the drainage is perfect; this is a great point with all potted plants at this season. Young, growing plants for early spring flowering, as fuchsias, calceolarias, cinerarias, pelargoniums, and similar articles, should also have a place in the warmest portion of the house, and near the glass. The front shelf is a good situation for these. Temporary shelves, fixed near the roof, at any convenient point of its surface, will be found useful in winter, and present a most favorable position for young plants. If not over a foot in width, such a shelf will not materially interfere with the growth of plants on the lower staging. Azaleas and camellias that indicate early flowering, may also be placed near the heat, to hasten them into flower.
The coldest end of the house (that is, the end farthest from the source of heat, which can be kept a few degrees colder by admitting more air at that point), will be filled with the main plants of camellias and azaleas, with acacias, heaths, epacrises, etc. New Holland plants - boronias, polygaias, eutaxiaa, daphnes, and others - will occupy an intermediate position. Stock plants of verbenas, heliotropes, Ac., can be stowed on the front or side shelves. The less growth these make at this time the easier they are kept; keep them on short allowance of water. Keep the house aired a little at night, unless during storms or indication of frost; water early in the morning, and have the house dry towards evening. Dispense with all kind of shading; the object now is, to harden and ripen the plants, that they may stand the effects of winter.
As a general rule, the less fire heat given, the better for the plants. A night temperature of 40o will be a safe average; with sun heat, 70o will not be too high. All greenhouse plants will flower under this temperature. Those who follow the old routine practice of shutting up early, and putting on fires in the evening, keeping a high temperature during night, and opening the sashes as Boon as the sun shines, need not look for many perfect flowers. If they would look a little into this management, it will be found that they have their highest temperature at the wrong period in the twenty-four hours; in other words, the house is warmer, or, at least, as warm at night as during day. The necessity of low night temperature has frequently been urged in these calendars. It is one of the most important points in the culture of plants under glass, and is so understood by all really successful gardeners.
The house will now be gay with primroses, camellias, azaleas, epyphyllums, coronillas, some heaths, daphnes, epacris, acacias, oxalis, etc. Water must be given only when plants are actually in need of it, otherwise they will not remain long in health.