This section is from the book "The Florists' Manual", by William Scott. Also available from Amazon: The Florist's Manual.
If it were not for our enemies the aphides, spider, thrips, mealy bug and many other minute animals, with the low plant organisms, the mildews, rusts, etc., our calling would be comparatively easy, and we are not the only ones. The fruit grower, market gardener and farmer all have their foes, compelling us to keep up a continual watch and fight against their attacks.
It is really half the battle to keep our minute enemies in check, but think what would be the consequence if there were no greenfly or red spider, no mildew or rust. What would be the profits of flower growing? It would be small, for every careless fellow would have what is called "good luck." As it is, it is not good luck but good reward for continual care, watchfulness and industry. Perhaps it is just as well as it is, for although you can scarcely imagine a past or future paradise in which white scale will trouble the orange trees, or where some future Eve will have to apply kerosene emulsion for mealy bug, the present time is one that rewards the gardener for his industry and faithfulness to his duty, and no little part of his thoughts are taken up repelling the attacks of the many afflictions he is heir to in the fungoid and insect line.
Peter Henderson wrote, more than thirty years ago, that the least excusable of the gardener's failings was allowing his plants to become infested with aphis, because it was easily remedied. Quite right. Yet you see men today walk through their carnation houses where every shoot is covered with aphis. If any remark is made the reply is usually: " Yes, I must smoke." Or: " I am all out of stems. I must get some." Alas, the greenfly is the least to be dreaded. It succumbs to tobacco in several forms. Not so with all our insects and as for the mildews and rusts it is more the condition of the plant that we must improve than to combat the diseases. Keep the plant vigorous and its environments right and the mildew and rust will not appear.
Some years ago I attempted to grow Mermet roses in a house that could not on cold nights be kept at over 50 degrees, and very cold nights perhaps not over 47 degrees. I did not pick many roses, but the plants looked healthy. One morning I discovered the end ventilator open six inches and the thermometer down to 10 degrees outside. I thought to myself, " frost inside sure; if not, then a good dose of mildew." It was nearly a frost, but not a sign of mildew appeared. The plants were making a slow, firm growth and could stand the chill they got. If the house had been kept steadily at 58 or GO degrees mildew would have appeared for certain. The above is not quoted to instruct you in rose growing by any means.
Man and other animals hate a draught and so do plants. Man can stand for a while in a gale of wind, and the mercury at zero with no more damage than cold fingers and chilled nose, but let him sit in a warm room with a draught of cold air on him, even if it is only a few degrees cooler than the room, and the result is often pneumonia. And so, I believe, it is with plants, and why not
In no part of the exercise of our business is the old adage, " Prevention' is better than cure," so true as it is with our minute enemies. With the fungoids that come because the vitality of the plant is checked, guard against any neglect, day and night, and with the insects that will attack our plants even in the best of health apply your remedies regularly, not to cure but to prevent.
The formulas for several of the following solutions and fungicides are copied from the bulletin issued by the Cornell Agricultural Experiment Station, by E. G. Lodeman, February, 1895, a copy of which all growers should avail themselves of.
Copper sulphate, six pounds.
Quicklime, four pounds.
Water, forty to fifty gallons.
Dissolve the copper sulphate by putting it in a bag or coarse cloth and hanging this in a vessel holding at least four gallons, so that it is just covered by the water. Use an earthen or wooden vessel. Slake the lime in an equal quantity of water, then mix the two and add water enough to make forty gallons. It is then ready for immediate use, but will keep indefinitely. If to be used on young, tender leaves, it is advisable to add an extra pound of lime to the formula. When applied to such plants as carnations it will adhere better to the leaves if about one pound of hard soap is dissolved and added to the mixture.
The above is for rots, molds, mildews and fungous diseases.
Ammoniacal Copper Carbonate.
Copper carbonate, one ounce.
Ammonia enough to dissolve the copper.
Water, nine gallons.
The copper carbonate is best dissolved in large bottles, when it will keep indefinitely, and diluted with water as required. Used for the same purpose as Bordeaux mixture.
Another solution we have found very useful, particularly for destroying the fungus of the cutting bench, is made as follows:
Dissolve one pound of sulphate of copper in two quarts of ammonia, put this away in a corked jar and add one-half pin to twenty gallons of water. This can be used on the sand before a batch of cuttings is put in. We also dip the cuttings before going into the sand and again when taken out. We never saw a cutting injured by its use, and are certain of its efficacy in destroying the little fungus so troublesome on the surface of the sand.
Wreath Loosely Arranged.
Funeral Bunch of Roses.
Funeral Bunch of Roses.
Copper Sulphate Solution.
Copper sulphate, one pound.
Water, fifteen gallons.
Dissolve the copper in the water, when it is ready for use. This should not be used on any foliage, but can be used on the wood of trees and shrubs before the buds start.
Paris green, one pound.
Water, 200 gallons.
This will do for poisoning all insects that chew, such as caterpillars and worms. We have found that in applying the Paris green it was necessary to add something to make the solution stick to the leaves, and you can use with the above quantities two or three pounds of hard soap, dissolved, or add two quarts of the nicotine extract, which is of a sticky nature.
This can be used in the same proportion as Paris green. To make this safer to use on the foliage of chrysanthemums add one pound of slaked lime. This also is for insects that chew.
Florists do not always remember the distinction between the chewers and suckers. The aphides bore into the tissue of plants and suck the juices, and although they may be drenched with the Paris green solution would feel no ill effects from it. The worms and caterpillars eat the surface of the leaves and must consequently get the poison into their stomachs.
Fresh white hellebore, one ounce.
Water, three gallons.
Apply when thoroughly mixed. This poison is not so energetic as arsenites and may be used on the more tender growths for insects that chew.
Hard soap, one-half pound.
Boiling water, one gallon.
Kerosene, two gallons.
Dissolve the soap in the Mater by cutting into thin slices; add the kerosene and agitate with a syringe till thoroughly mixed. In this condition, when cool, it will become of the consistency of sour milk and may be kept indefinitely. Dilute twenty to thirty times with water when applying. Use strong emulsion for all scale insects.
This is used for all insects that suck, as green, black and yellow fly (the latter the most troublesome on chrysanthemums), mealy bugs, red spider, thrips, and all worms with soft bodies will succumb to this.
It should, however, be always used with caution. It is best to try the weakest emulsion first.