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.
It may, perhaps, be worth while to detail the means by which a plant apparently quite dead from drought was restored to vigorous growth. A large Gardenia florida was received in such a condition as to appear worthless. The more succulent part of its stem and branches were withered; its leaves shrivelled up, and the whole aspect of the plant resembled a newly-planted evergreen killed by the March winds. There were many circumstances which rendered it desirable to restore the plant if possible, and what seemed hopeless was attempted, and, as the sequel will show, accomplished. As a preliminary, the plant, pot and all, was immersed in a tank of water, sufficiently large to cover every branch. Here it remained until the bark became plump by absorption, and after being removed, and the now saturated soil washed from its roots, leaving them as bare as the branches, it was repotted in as small a pot as would conveniently hold the roots, using a compost suitable to the nature of the plant. The entire stem, as well as the main branches, was now enveloped in moss, and kept constantly damp by syringing. Of course the plant was shaded on sunny days.
The pot being plunged in a gentle bottom-heat, and a damp atmosphere maintained around the branches, in a short time the leaves began to drop off - a certain sign, under the circumstances, of returning health. Two or three weeks elapsed, and tiny buds began to push; leaves and shoots followed, and the plant was restored. True, most of the smaller branches never recovered; nor was that of much moment, as the vigorous growths from their bases more than compensated them. In all cases of this kind, very gentle stimulants must at first be given, and these with caution. Heat, injudiciously applied, or without the necessary adjuncts, will often accelerate death rather than restore to health; and the same holds good with respect to both bulbs and seeds. The latter, when the vital principle is become dormant by age, will often decay if subjected to the excitement of a tolerably high temperature, when, if sown merely in a cool frame, they vegetate freely. And so of bulbs: if these are received in a dry and shrivelled condition, the first care should be to restore the lost juices; when this has been accomplished, the vegetative principles may be aroused, but not before.
These necessary precautions are not always attended to, and the consequences are the loss of many plants which might have been saved. Even in the cultivation of the ordinary hyacinth this is not sufficiently observed, especially by amateur and lady cultivators. When, as is often the case, the bulbs have lost much of their plumpness, they should either be placed, for a day or two, in damp sand, or enveloped individually in a piece of moistened flannel, before being placed in the glasses. And even when they are there, it is an excellent plan to cover the crown of each with a piece of thick blotting-paper or thin cloth, kept moist by a few threads connected to it, and touching the water below. I have seen the best results follow this plan. - G. W. L.