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Flowers







There are a number of greenhouse crops which are easily within the reach of the amateur who has at his disposal a small glass structure. One is apt to feel that something much more elaborate than the simple means at his hands are required to produce the handsome flowers or beautiful ferns which may be seen in the florist's window. It is true that many things are beyond his achievement. He cannot grow gigantic American Beauties on stems several feet long, nor present his friends at Christmas with the most delicate orchids; but he can very easily have carnations more beautiful, because they will be fresher if not quite so large, than any which can be had at the glass-fronted shops; and cyclamen as beautiful, and much more serviceable, than any orchid that ever hung from a precarious basket. To accomplish such results requires not so much elaborate equipment as unremitting care--and not eternal fussing but regular thought and attention. There is, for instance, no more well beloved flower than the carnation, which entirely deserves the place it has won in flower-lovers' hearts beside, if not actually ahead of, the rose. As a plant it will stand all kinds of abuse, and yet, under the care which any amateur can give it, will produce an abundance of most beautiful bloom. Within a comparatively few years the carnation, as indeed a number of other flowers, has been developed to nearly twice its former size, and the number of beautiful shades obtainable has also increased many times. To be grown at its best the carnation should have a rather cool temperature and plenty of ventilation, and these two requirements help to place it within reach of the small greenhouse operator. If only a few plants are to be grown, they may be purchased from a local florist, or obtained by mail from a seed house. If as few as two or three dozen plants are to be kept--and a surprising number of blooms may be had from a single dozen--they may be kept in pots. Use five-or six-inch pots and rich earth, with frequent applications of liquid manure, as described later. If, however, part of a bench can be given to them, the results will be more satisfactory. The bench should be well drained and contain four or five inches of rich soil, such as already described. If it is too late to compose a soil of this kind, use any rich garden loam and well rotted manure, in the proportions of five or six to one. For plants to begin blooming in the early winter, they should be put in during August, but for one's own use a later planting will do. For this year, if you are too late, get a few plants and keep them in pots. Next year buy before March a hundred or so rooted cuttings, or in April small plants, and set them out before the middle of May. Cultivate well during the summer, being sure to keep all flower buds pinched off, and have a nice supply of your own plants ready for next fall. In putting the plants into the bench (or pots) select a cloudy day, and then keep them shaded for a few days, with frequent syringing of the foliage, until they become established. Keep the night temperature very little above fifty degrees, and not above seventy-five in the daytime, while sixty will do in cloudy weather. As to the watering, they should be well soaked when put in, and thereafter only as the ground becomes dry, when it should again be wet, care being taken to wet the foliage as little as possible. In the mornings, and on bright days, syringing the foliage will be beneficial, but never in dull weather, as the leaves should never be wet over night. As the flower stems begin to shoot up they will need support. If you can get one of the many forms of wire supports used by commercial florists, so much the better; but if these are not obtainable the old method of stakes and strings (or preferably raffia) will do very well. To obtain large flowers the flower stems must be "disbudded"--that is all but the end bud on each stalk should be pinched off, thus throwing all the strength into one large flower. If, on the other hand, the terminal bud is taken off, and several of the side buds left, the result will be a beautiful cluster of blooms, more pleasing, to my mind, than the single large flowers, though not so valuable commercially. There are any number of wonderful new varieties, but the white, pink and light pink Enchantress, and one of the standard reds will give satisfaction.





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