Favorite House Plants
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
" Nearly everybody keeps house plants, more or less," writes Mrs. E. B. Murray of Saranac county, New York, " but how few have flowers all the time or even more than now and then, and yet it is a comparatively easy thing if one only knows how. As to quantity and selection it is a matter of taste and room. I used to grow over a hundred plants every winter, and fill every window full. 01 course, I enjoyed it, but no one else did. My husband used to protest vainly that the house was like a swamp, not a window to sit by or look out of, and I see now that I was very wrong; what should have given pleasure was just the reverse. Now, I save one good window, and do not crowd the others.
" There are, of course, all kinds of windows. Mine are warm and sunny-too warm. I find there is nothing, nor do I believe there over will be, bet-ter than the dear old geranium. Just look at the varieties to choose from ! It will grow with neglect and under very unfavorable circumstances, but give it what it needs, sun, warmth, enough water, and small pots, and see what it will do ! I prefer small plants, started in early summer, grown in little tin cans, for pots in my windows dry out so I can do lathing. I like small plants, because I can have so much greater range of kinds and color. I have nearly 40 now, all different, one or two sweet scented, three or four ivy or ornamental leaved. Did you ever try any new ones? Just send next summer to some reliable seedsme and florists for a dozen, and see how you enjoy them, also what a revelation they will be to you.
" Abutilon is another fine plant for warm, sunny windows. I have known plants to bloom for nine months, and scarcely a day in that time without one or more of their showy, bell-shaped flowers. I prefer the yellow, but the pink is beautiful. Of these I have three. Cyclamen is another good plant, if managed right, but do not let it lie down in summer, or it is almost impossible to start again. Cinerarias are beautiful, grown from seed in the early summer, and kept growing vigorously all the time. Magnificent is the only word to call them when in bloom. Their time of blooming comes toward spring, and if kept out of the hot sun, they last for weeks. The richest blues and purples I have ever seen are among their colors. Certainly one or two pelargoniums also should have a place. They can be kept upstairs if warm enough until after the holidays. Then bring them into sunlight and warmth. When in full bloom they more than repay all care spent on them, and some of the newer varieties are simply gorgeous.
" Dutch bulbs deserve a chapter or a book to themselves. Those who have grown them need no urging or instructions. But for those who never have made their acquaintance there is in store a perfect revelation of their beauty, if given a trial.
If I could grow only one flower in winter, it would be a bulb, and if only one bulb, it would be a hyacinth. My bulb closet gladdens my whole heart every time I look at or think of it. I have 50 hyacinths, double and single red, 'white, and blue, 12 parrot tulips, 12 Roman and Paper White narcissus, 12 Mammoth Yellow crocus. Given a good bulb and right conditions, it is sure to bloom, but it must not have fresh manure in the soil, nor be too wet at the start or it will rot. It requires six to eight weeks in utter darkness to make the necessary roots. But some thrifty woman says, bulbs cost so. No, not so much, when you can get mixed ones by the dozen for 5O or 6o cents, and even cheaper, by express. This means hyacinths, as others cost less."