Roses, Carnations, And Chrysanthemums
( Originally Published 1923 )
There is no necessity for the existence of the small, sickly, rose bushes that it has been my lot to see in so many homes that I have visited; bushes that are struggling to merely exist. Properly handled, roses in the window garden will give a good crop of flowers during the early months of the year, at least.
One way to accomplish this is to have the plants growing outdoors during the summer, digging them up early in November, potting and forcing into bloom. While this works fairly well, and will do for those who have not made better preparation for the winter's flowers, the better way is to grow the plants in pots or boxes all summer long.
Some of the best varieties for growing in boxes are Anchen Muller (Pink Baby Rambler), Mme. Norbert Levavasseur (Baby Rambler), Clothilde Soupert, Dorothy Perkins, Gruss an Teplitz, American Pillar Maman Cochet, Papa Gontier, Safrano, White Maman Cochet.
Get these as early in the spring as the nurseryman will ship them to you, and plant them in boxes. A convenient-sized box will be about three feet long, eight to ten inches deep, and about fifteen inches wide. Such a box will fit into a window very nicely, but must be held in place by a bracket. I would not advise using a box of smaller size as it will dry out too quickly, necessitating very frequent watering, a very unfavourable condition for plant growth.
Have several one-inch holes in the bottom of the box so that the surplus water may drain away. To keep it from dropping on the floor keep a tin or galvanized tray under it. There must be an air space (one inch) under the box to allow a circulation of air. In the bottom of the box put a one-inch layer of drainage — gravel or coal clinkers will do — and fill the box with soil for planting.
Roses prefer a heavy soil, one composed of three or four parts rotted sod to one of manure will be satisfactory.
THE PLANTS TO BUY
Buy two-year-old plants. Put about three plants to a box, and plant them as deeply as the boxes will allow; and if the roses are budded, get the union between stock and cion three inohes below the surface, if possible. Cut the canes back to within six inches of the ground.
Until the plants have taken hold of the new soil, keep the boxes in a shaded place, then remove them to full sunlight. Never allow the soil to become dry, and as soon as the boxes have become well filled with roots water the plants once or twice a week with manure water. In the fall, when the leaves begin to drop, give the soil less water, and when the leaves have all dropped, or the last of them are just about to drop, stop watering until you are ready for forcing, which will be about the turn of the- year.
The roses may be stored almost any-where in a cool place. Some freezing will not hurt them; in fact, it will help to put the plants in good condition.
BEGINNING TO FoRCE
About the first of the year cut back the canes about half, place the boxes in the window of the living room, and in a couple of months or so the plants will have plenty of good flowers.
After the flowering season is over put the plants outdoors if all danger of frost is past, remove some of the top soil and top dress with new soil, and get them ready for another winter's forcing. I would not force them more than two winters, however; after that, throw away the plants and start afresh.
Another excellent plant for the window garden is the carnation. Along in May procure from your neighbouring florist cuttings which have become established in two or three inch pots, and which have not become pot bound. If they are healthy it will make no difference if they look rather lank or leggy, because about the first thing to do will be to pinch them back — pinch out the tops. If the plants are put in the garden before all danger of frost is past they will not be injured if they have been properly hardened off.
During the summer grow the plants out of doors. Select a well-drained portion of the garden, spade it as deeply as possible with a spading fork, turning under at the same time a dressing of well-decomposed manure which has been spread on the ground about three inches thick. After spading thoroughly, rake the soil until it is fine and smooth, and all the stones have been removed. Set the plants eighteen inches apart, in rows which are eighteen to twenty-four inches apart. Cultivate the ground thoroughly all summer long. I have found it an excellent scheme to go over the garden about once in two weeks, loosening up the soil with a spading fork, to a depth of about three inches.
Water freely all summer, do not give them a little sprinkling every day, which will do more harm than good — give them a thorough soaking once or twice a week, after which the surface soil must be stirred with a wheel hoe, or other tool, to form a soil mulch, to prevent the evaporation of moisture. I had a plot about loo feet square, of sandy soil, with a gravelly subsoil, so there was no danger of overwatering. This little garden plot held a miscellaneous collection of plants which were grown for potting up in the late summer, for winter flowers, and on this plot a hose ran every day. Some part of the garden had a thorough soaking each day, and each part had a watering about twice a week, so you can see that if your ground is well drained, you need not have any fear of over-watering your plants or garden.
As soon as the plants start to grow, pinch out the top. This is easily done with the thumb and forefinger. This pinching should continue all summer, at intervals of ten days or two weeks, or when the new shoots which start as a result of the pinching have made about an inch or an inch and a half of growth. Be careful to note the difference between the leaves and stems. The new leaves frequently stick out straight and round, like a stem.
This constant pinching will secure round, stocky plants, six or eight inohes in diameter.
If the plants are allowed to run up to a single stem, and then to flower, they will be of little use for next winter.
LIFTING AND POTTING
About the middle of August is a good time to transplant the plants into pots and boxes their permanent quarters for next winter. If you have a small greenhouse, and want to plant them out on a bench, this is the time to do it.
As a general rule people soak the ground just before lifting the plants, or do this work after a rain. I have found the contrary to be good practice. I got much better results from allowing ground to dry out a little. This however, cannot always be done on heavy soil, nor will it work properly unless the soil is full of humus, but on my sandy soil it gave me great, long feeding roots, which I otherwise would have lost.
Plants grown as I have described will need pots six or seven inches in diameter — they may be put in boxes, or on benches, and planted a foot apart.
Do not "over-pot" them. When you are putting them in the sized pots mentioned you will feel that you are crowding them, but you forget that the new soil which you are. putting around them is full of plant food, so that they will not need to have a large amount of soil in which to forage.
I found that a soil consisting of equal parts of rotted sod, leafmould, well-decomposed horse manure, and sand, made a good medium in which to grow the plants. If you can mix up your soil a week in advance, put in a five-inch pot full of bone meal to a wheelbarrowful of soil. This must be done beforehand, as it ferments, which would hurt the roots if it were added just before potting the plants in it.
Be sure that the roots are spread out as much as possible, and that the soil is worked in well among the roots. This can be done by filling up the pot, and then holding the plant by the stem, gently lifting it up and down. You will be surprised to find how much soil will work in around the roots which-you could not get in there by any other method.
Firm — do not pack — the soil, first with the hands, and then with a potting stick. This stick should be a piece of white pine, because it is soft; about a foot long, an inch to an inch and a half wide, and about three-quarters of an inch thick, rounded at the ends and the corners smoothed off, so as not to hurt the hands.
CARE AFTER POTTING
When potted, water the plants, giving them enough so that all the soil in the pots is thoroughly moistened, and set them in a shady place for a few days, where they are sheltered from the wind. The watering will help settle soil among the roots. In order to help the plants recover from the shock of transplanting, syringe the foliage three of four times a day, doing it early in the morning and late in the afternoon, with a couple of syringings in the middle of the day. Take care, however, not to give them so much water that the soil in the pots will be kept very wet, because if you do the soil will sour. Great care must be exercised to keep the soil moist but not water-logged. At this time the plants are forming new working roots, so they can take only a small quantity of water from the soil.
In a couple of weeks when the new roots will have commenced tO form and to work, the plants should be gradually brought into the positions more exposed to the sun. When the plants are first potted, they will wilt somewhat during the day, but so long as they have a fresh, bright, crisp appearance each morning, you need have no fear of losing them.
When the plants have become established they may be brought intO the house, or they may be set in a deep coldframe, or any other place where they can be easily cared for, have plenty of sunlight, and be protected from the cold nights.
I do nOt now recall the names of thOse which I grew, and, moreover, varieties of carnation come and go rapidly, but it is desirable to choose compact growing, free blooming kinds: Enchantress, pale pink; Mrs. Nelson, deep pink; May Naylor, white; Boston Market, white; Portia, scarlet; Eldorado, yellow, were good typical kinds of their day.
CHRYSANTHEMUMS NEED THE SAME CARE
I have described how I grew my carnations. In this same plot of ground I always had a lot of chrysanthemums. They were plants which were started in the spring, and were large enough so that some of them were in five-inch pots when I planted them out late in May, sometimes before the last frosts, which will not injure them. They were given the same treatment as were the carnations, except the pinching out of the ends of the shoots. This was done regularly; every day or two the plants were looked over, the ends of some of the shoots being pinched out. As a rule, I usually allowed a new shoot to make about two inches of stem before stopping it, but varied it, as was necessary, in order to secure a symmetrical plant. Pinching out the ends of the shoots must stop not later than the first of August. Some of the professional growers do not stop the shoots after the middle of July.
Plants given the treatment described will need pots from eight to ten inches in diameter, with possibly a few exceptions, when eleven and twelve inch sizes may be needed — never larger than that. Soap boxes will make very good receptacles for them, and they are much the cheaper, as several boxes can be got from the grocer for the price of one pot. Provide good drainage by making four or five holes in the bottom of the box and putting in a layer one or two inches deep of stones or clinkers.
After lifting and potting put the plants in a shaded place. They will wilt more or less during the day, but as long as they are fresh looking each morning you need have no fear of losing them. Syringe the foliage frequently during the day, but after the first watering given at the time Of potting do not water the soil until the plants have taken hold of it. The syringing of the foliage will provide enough moisture for the soil.
The plants may stay outdoors until the cool nights of fall come, then put them in the house where they are to flower. When the pots are again full of roots give manure water once or twice a week until the buds commence to show colour.
Keep the plants clean by syringing with tobacco water or fumigating; the black aphis is very fond of chrysanthemums.
After flowering, cut the plants to near the ground, and store the boxes in a light, cool place until next February or March, when cuttings can be made from the suckers. These will make good plants for the succeeding fall's flowers.