Hardy Climbing Vines Ivies
Berries And Small Fruits
Requisites Of The Home Vegetable Garden
Plants And The Calendar.
The Rose: Its General Care And Culture
Planning The Garden
The Wild Garden A Plea For Our Native Plants
Planting The Lawn
Plants For Special Purposes
The Winter Garden
Iv. Crops That May Follow Others
The Hardy Border
Bulbs furnish one of the most satisfactory classes of winter-blooming
house plants, especially for city houses and apartments where conditions
are not apt to favor the longevity of plants.
They may be considered in two classes:--the forcing bulbs, such as
narcissus and freesia, and those given natural conditions of growth in
pots, such as amaryllis or callas.
Most of the forcing bulbs are included in what florists term the "Dutch"
and "Cape" bulbs. They may be had in a succession of bloom from
Thanksgiving to Easter, and yet all the work is done at one time. The
task of bringing them to bloom is an easy one.
If you want to have the enjoyment of attending to the whole process
yourself, procure your supply of bulbs from a reliable seed store, or
order by mail. The bulbs should be firm and plump. The easiest to grow
and the most satisfactory are hyacinths, tulips, narcissus and freesia.
They can be grown in pots, but success will be more certain with small
boxes four to six inches deep and any size up to the regular "flat"
(about 13x22 inches), according to the number you wish in bloom at one
time. All the paraphernalia you will need is a supply of light, rich
soil (one-third old rotted manure, two-thirds rotted turf-loam is good)
a few fern or bulb pans, boxes, and your bulbs. Begin operations early
in October. Cover the bottoms of your pots and boxes, which should have
ample drainage (see illustration) with an inch or so of coarse
screenings, charcoal lumps, pot fragments or sifted coal cinders to
assure good drainage. Cover this with an inch or so of soil, and put the
bulbs in place, setting them firmly, right side up, and near enough
almost to touch each other. The "extra size" bulbs can go a little
further apart, but not more than two or three inches. Then cover over
and fill with the same soil, until the bulbs are an inch or so below the
surface of the potting soil.
The Dutch or Cape Bulbs.--The next step is to select your storage
place, where the bulbs are to be kept while making roots, and until they
are wanted to flower in the house. A dark, cold, dry cellar, free from
mice, will do. If this is not available use the coldframe, if you have
one, or simply dig a trench, in any well drained spot, about one foot
deep, and long enough to hold your boxes and pots. After placing them
here give them a thorough watering, and cover with six or eight inches
of soil. Cover freesias only two inches, with a light soil. If you wish
to keep tabs on your plantings, use a long stake, with place for tag at
the top, in each pan or box. Don't trust to your memory.
Your bulbs will need no further care until they are ready to be brought
in, except, on the approach of freezing weather, to cover the trench
with leaves, or litter if they are kept outdoors. In four or five weeks
bring in hyacinths and polyanthus narcissi. Von Thol tulips may be had
in bloom by Christmas. Success will be more certain with the other
tulips and large flowered narcissi if you wait until the last of
November before bringing them into the house. Their growth outside will
have been almost entirely root growth; the first leaves may have
started, but will not be more than an inch or two high. Immediately upon
bringing them in, the bulbs should be given another good watering, and
from this time on should never be allowed to suffer for water. When the
flower spikes are half developed, a little liquid manure, or nitrate of
soda, or one of the prepared plant foods, dissolved in water, will be of
great benefit applied about once a week. The temperature for bulbs just
brought in should be at first only 45 to 50 degrees; after a few days 10
degrees more. In the ordinary living-room a little ventilation by opened
windows will readily lower the temperature, but care should be taken not
to expose the growing plants to any draft. Forcing bulbs, like almost
all other plants, will be better and healthier with the maximum amount
of fresh air compatible with a sufficiently high temperature.
The plants thus brought into water, light and warmth, will grow with
remarkable rapidity. Just as the first buds are opening out is the ideal
time to use them as presents, as they will continue subjects of daily
attraction for a long time. Those that are kept can be saved, either to
plant out or use another year. Let the soil gradually dry out when they
are through blooming, and when the tops are dead take the bulbs from the
soil, clean them and store in a perfectly dry place, or in boxes, in dry
The colors and other qualities of the many varieties of hyacinths,
narcissi and tulips will be found described in the fall catalogues of
all the best seedhouses.
As before stated, hyacinths, tulips, narcissi and freesias are the most
readily forced and the most satisfactory bulbs. The beginner will do
well, for his first attempt, to confine himself to these. There are,
however, several more that respond to practically the same treatment,
and whose various types of beauty will repay handsomely the trouble of
Ixias and sparaxias are two more of the Cape group easily forced and
well worth growing. They like a cool temperature, 35 to 40 degrees at
night, even after having been brought in. They should not be put in the
dark or covered with earth after potting, but started in a cool
temperature, with light.
Oxalis. Another very beautiful effect is had by getting a hanging
basket, or a pot-hanger with which to suspend a six-inch or eight-inch
bulb-pan, and in it start some oxalis bulbs. They do not need to be
rooted first, but should be placed at once in the light and heat (about
55 degrees). They will send out spray after spray of beautiful flowers,
continuing in bloom for months. Dry off and rest about June, if started
in October; start again in the fall. Freesias and oxalis, to be had in
bloom by Christmas, should be started in August.
Easter Lily (Lillium Harrisii) is universally popular. It is usually
bought from the florist in bud or bloom, but may be grown in the house.
Large firm bulbs should be procured, and potted at once in five or six
inch pots, and given the same treatment as above until root growth has
been made, when they will still be several months from flowering. When
wanted for Easter they should be brought into the house the first or
second week in November. Keep rather cool for two or three weeks. Later
they may be given a much higher temperature. When the pots are covered
with roots, it is a good plan to carefully repot, setting rather deep,
so that the new roots starting above the soil, may be of use.
Lillium candidum and L. longiflorum may be given the same treatment
but will require a longer time in which to mature.
Calla (Richardia Aethiopica) The soil for callas should, where
possible, be about one-third rotted cow manure. Otherwise make very rich
soil with bone and whatever may be had but get the cow manure if
possible. It also likes a great deal of water. Pot at once in large
pots, give a thorough watering and keep cool and shaded for four or five
weeks, until active growth begins. Then give more heat, keeping it about
60 degrees if you can. They will continue to bloom a long time. In the
spring, after flowering ceases, dry off gradually and lay the pots on
their sides in a shaded spot, and rest until August. Beside the large
white calla most commonly seen, there are several other forms which will
be found described in good catalogues, among them Tom Thumb or Little
Gem, a dwarf sort; Elliottiana, the Yellow calla; Godfrey, a dwarf
ever-blooming sort, especially desirable as a pot plant where, as is
often the case, the ordinary large white sort is too big to be managed
conveniently; albomaculata, white with purple throat, etc. The red and
black callas are arums.
Cyclamen. While these beautiful flowers may be grown from seed it is
much easier for the amateur to get the bulbs or a growing plant. If the
former, pot in four-or five-inch pots, using a light compost and giving
little water at first. Repot as needed. Shade during summer and syringe
frequently, give 55 to 60 degrees in winter, with liquid manure while
flowering. When the leaves begin to look yellowish, dry off, and give a
short rest but don't let them get dry enough to shrivel.
The Gloxinia (Sinningia speciosa) may receive much the same
treatment but is a summer bloomer. The bulbs or dried roots should be
potted up in February or March and kept growing on and repotted. One of
their valuable characteristics is the great range of colors and
combinations in the flowers, which are freely produced.
The Amaryllis-like Group. Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) is altogether too
little known in its modern varieties. Everyone has seen one of the old
forms, red or red with a white stripe, with the lily-like flowers borne
well aloft above scant foliage. But the new named sorts are tremendous
improvements and should by all means be tried, even if they seem
expensive beside other bulbs, of which you can get a dozen for the price
of one good amaryllis. Remember, however, that the amaryllis is of the
very easiest culture and will last for years.
Pot the bulbs up as soon as received--they come in November--and let
them stay dormant awhile. In a month or two they will begin growth and
flower (unfortunately) long before the leaves have made much of a show.
Do not dry off just because the flowers fade,--the plant has got to
make its growth and store up food for next season. Continue to water and
feed--outdoors in the summer--until the leaves begin to turn yellow;
then dry off and store in a cool place until the bulbs again show signs
of growth. The flowers are generally borne from January until May and
come in shades of crimson, blood-red and white and attractive
combinations of these colors.
Vallota purpurea is little known, but a very useful plant for the
window garden, resembling the amaryllis, but having evergreen foliage
which, of course, gives it a distinct advantage. The flowers are reddish
Imantophyllum miniatum is another very desirable evergreen foliaged
bulb, having large amaryllis-like flowers, red with a yellow throat.
There are several varieties.
The African blue lily (Agapanthus umbellatus) is quite like the above
but the flowers are bright blue, a large number forming each umbel, so
that it is one of the most striking of plants. It naturally flowers in
the summer (being carried through the winter by storing in the cellar),
but by changing the resting season may be flowered in the spring. Unlike
most of the other bulbs in this group, they should be repotted in rich
soil every year, to do their best. Beside the above there are varieties
with white and with double flowers and one with variegated leaves. They
form a most interesting group.
The Blood Flower (Haemanthus) has very beautiful flowers but they are
produced in advance of the foliage. Give the same treatment as
The above group will make a very unusual and desirable collection,
easily managed, and giving satisfaction for a good many years.
Tuberous Begonia. While this is not a bulb, strictly speaking, it is
treated in about the same way as the bulbs. The tubers should be started
in pots and not much larger than themselves, in a light, rich soil,
using old cow manure and leaf-mould, if available, to secure these
characteristics. Repot as often as necessary until seven or eight-inch
pots are filled. Then feed while blooming. The tubers are dried off
after growth, taken from the pots and stored in sand or sawdust to
prevent shriveling. They are among the most satisfactory of flowers, but
as their development has taken place largely within the last ten years
or so, they are not yet nearly so widely known as they deserve. For
flowering either in pots or outdoors they rank among the very best.
Avoid direct sunlight.
Gladiolus. This magnificent flower has gained rapidly during recent
years, but few flower-lovers seem to realize as yet that it may be
easily forced indoors. Pot up the bulbs in December, using a rich soil
and setting them just even with it and covering with half an inch of
gritty sand. America, May and Shakespeare are three of the best
varieties for forcing but new ones are being produced every year. Keep
cool until a good root growth is made, then shift to four-or five-inch
pots and keep in a room of 45 to 50 degrees at night.
Caladiums. While the fancy-leaved caladiums require a higher
temperature than most house plants, they will repay the extra care and
heat demanded in cases where it can be given. Start in February. Cover
under and over with fine sphagnum moss, kept moist, and give 60 degrees
until the roots start, which they will do quickly. Then pot in rather
small pots, using a rich, light soil, with plenty of leaf-mould and
sand. Water sparingly at first; shift on and give manure water as the
leaves develop. Give all the light possible without letting the direct
sunlight strike them during the heat of the day. Fifty-five degrees at
night is the minimum temperature to allow. When the leaves begin to die
dry off and treat as for begonias.
Lily-of-the-Valley (Convallaria majalis) may be forced in the house
where sufficient bottom heat can be given and they are very desirable
flowers, possessing a grace, beauty and fragrance seldom combined. Get
"cold storage pips" and place in deep flats of pure sand. They may be
stored in the cold and brought in as desired. Increase the temperature
gradually until by placing over a radiator or in some other
exceptionally warm place, 75 to 80 degrees is given at the bottom of the
box. Keep covered from the light until the buds show when the shading
should be gradually removed.
Iris. The Spanish iris makes a very desirable plant for forcing and
the plants are easily managed. A list of colors, etc., will be found in
most of the fall bulb catalogues. They are quite distinct from the
Japanese and German irises ordinarily seen outdoors. Start same as
caladium, but they do not require so much heat.
Spirea (Astilbe Japonica). Several varieties of this beautiful
flower are good for forcing. When the roots are received pot up in
light, rich soil, water thoroughly, and set in a shaded place. Remove to
the cellar or a deep coldframe as freezing weather comes on. Do not let
the soil dry out. After the first of January bring into heat gradually.
Sprinkle frequently as growth develops.
Ranunculus or buttercups, listed in the catalogues as Turkish, Persian
and French, are very easily grown flowers. They have fleshy roots which
are given the same treatment as Cape bulbs, i.e., started in light.
Poppy-flowered Anemones (A. fulgens and A. coronaria) are also
easily grown in the same way. They come in a variety of colors,
including reds, whites, and blues. They are very cheery little flowers,
two inches or so across, and well worth giving a few pots to.
Several of the bulbs are easily grown in water, or pebbles and water,
with no soil at all. The best known of these is the Chinese Sacred Lily.
The Golden Chinese Lily is not so well known but very desirable.
Hyacinths are easily grown in pure water; a special vase called the
"hyacinth glass" being made for the purpose.
Next: Veranda Boxes Window-boxes Vases And Hanging Baskets