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 readers are, no doubt, in a state of doubt as to what plants to select for their winter hanging baskets and vases. For this purpose we would strongly recommend the finer Tropaeolums. None are much better than the T. Lobbianum and T. Schulzii, though I have had good success with T. pere-grinum. One trouble with these plants is, that with many they lose all their beauty when their owners find they are nothing but Nastartions. These plants need a free supply of water, and do best in large baskets where the roots have room. A large basket or vase may be well filled by a plant, each of Thunbergia Aurantiaca, Tropaeolum Lobbianum, Convolvulus Mauritanicus and Scy-panthus Elegans. Some would like to add a Barclayana, but we find it too delicate to struggle with those which we have named. Pot Flowers.- Many of those who attempt the raising of flowers in pots, make a fatal mistake at the very foundation, in the selecting of the soil. Many use a soil which is too compact to allow water to pass freely through it, and the plants soon become "water logged." The soil should be porous enough to admit of the free passage of water, and yet not so open as to dry up.
A pile composed of equal parts of partially decayed sods, manure and wood loam, will, when thoroughly decayed, make the best possible soil for pots. If sods and manure are used, garden soil may do, but most of it contains most too much clay; this may be counteracted by using sand. The soil must allow the water to pass freely through it, and too much should not be applied at one time; little and often is the safest rule.
After another season's trial, I can strongly endorse the use of a single plant of in a large vase or pot, the vine to be allowed to run over a window, but not in contact with it. The new variety P. trifasciata is the finest, as its tri-colored leaves are a great addition to the beauty of its flowers, which of themselves are the most beautiful of the Passi-floras, though much of their beauty depends on proper care and treatment.
This graceful and convenient form of decoration increases in popularity from year to year. Many a city home, which would otherwise be destitute of floral adornment, is brightened by a hanging basket or two; and in the country, among people of taste and refinement, they are becoming more and more common. The baskets themselves are made of wire, terra cotta, or wood. The first named is the most usual, but the small terra cotta baskets are extremely neat and elegant for bay windows or other interior situations. They possess, with the rustic wood baskets, the additional advantage over the wire of retaining moisture longer, and thus suffering less from neglect of frequent watering. The wood basket generally consists of a turned wooden bowl, covered over with twigs and roots to give it a rustic appearance. When this kind of basket is used, care should be exercised to see there are a few holes in the bottom to permit drainage. The matter is scarcely ever attended to by the makers, and florists who sell them ready filled with plants are apt to neglect it. The consequence is that the basket soon becomes water-logged, and the plants contained in it die of wet feet.
Where provision for drainage has been neglected until after the basket is filled, holes may be bored from the outside, and the dropsical condition relieved. The wire baskets are first lined with thick Moss and afterwards filled with earth, into which the growing plants are set.