Potting earth.

Loam (decomposed sod), leaf-mold, rotted farm-yard manure, peat, and sand afford the main requirement of the plants most commonly cultivated. Seedlings, and young stock generally, are best suited by a light mixture, such as one part each of loam, leaf-mold, and sand in equal parts. The older plants of vigorous growth like a rich, heavy compost, formed of equal parts of loam and manure; and a sandy, lasting soil, made up of two parts each of peat and loam to one part of sand, is the most desirable for slow-growing sorts. A little lumpy charcoal should be added to the compost for plants that are to remain any great length of time, say a year, in the same pot. The best condition of soil for potting is that intermediate state between wet and dry. Sphagnum (moss), or fibrous peat and sphagnum in mixture and chopped, should be used for orchids and other plants of similar epiphytal character.

Cow-dung is highly prized by many gardeners for use in potting soil. It is stored under cover and allowed to remain until dry, being turned several times in the meantime to pulverize it. Manure water is made either from this dried excrement or from the fresh material. When made from the fresh material, the manure-water should be made weaker than in the other case.

Suggestions for potting plants.

The pots should be perfectly dry and clean, and well drained. However one-sided a plant may be, it is advantageous to have the main stem as near the center of the pot as possible, and the potted plant is usually in the best position when perfectly erect. Soft-wooded plants of rapid growth, such as coleus, geraniums, fuchsias, and begonias, thrive most satisfactorily when the soil is loose rather than hard about the roots. Ferns should have it moderately firm, and hard-wooded stock, azaleas, ericas, acacias, and the like, should be potted firmly. In repotting plants, more especially those of slow growth, the ball of soil and roots should never be sunk to any great extent below the original level, and it is always preferable to pot a plant twice, or even three times, rather than place it in a pot too large.

Watering greenhouse and window plants.

Plants cannot be satisfactorily watered just so many times a day, week, or month. All plants should be watered when necessary — when they are dry. This is indicated by a tendency to flag or wilt, or by the hollow sound of the pots when tapped. The latter is the safest sign, as, after a prolonged period of dull weather, many plants wilt on exposure to bright sunshine, although still wet at the roots. But a growing plant should not be allowed to become so dry as to wilt, nor should the soil ever reach a condition as dry as powder. This is a condition, however, which is essential to some plants, more particularly the bulbous and tuberous kinds, during their resting period. Incessant dribbling should be avoided; water thoroughly, and be done with it until the plants are again dry. Plants under glass should not be sprayed overhead while the sun is shining hot and full upon them. The evening is the best time of the day for watering in summer, and morning in winter. In watering with liquid manure, the material should not come in contact with the foliage. Plants recently potted should not be watered heavily at the roots for a week or ten days; spray them frequently overhead.

Liquid manure for greenhouses.

Most of the artificial fertilizers may be used in the preparation of liquid manure, but a lack of knowledge as to their strength and character lessens their value in the minds of gardeners. Clean cow manure, which varies little in stimulating property, is considered by gardeners to be the safest and most reliable material to use for a liquid fertilizer. A bushel measure of the solid manure to 100 gallons of water makes a mixture which can be used with beneficial results on the tenderest plants; and for plants of rank growth the compound may be gradually increased to thrice that strength with safety. Soot may be added with advantage, using it at the rate of 1 part to 10 parts of the manure. The mixture should stand for a few days, being stirred occasionally, before application.