Wardian Cases

A Wardian Case consists of a base, which is generally an oblong box,

covered with a square glass frame, under which certain plants can be

successfully grown. This is now considered by many to be a desirable

ornament in the window-garden during the winter months. When neatly and

artistically filled with suitable plants, a Wardian Case becomes a thing

of beauty. These cases can be easily and cheaply made by any one

possessed of ordinary mechanical skill. The base or box should be oblong

in shape, at least eight inches deep, and lined inside with zinc or

tin-plate, securely soldered to prevent the water and soil from staining

the wood. A case made in this manner will endure a number of years

without decaying. Over the case a square glass frame should be made to

fit snugly; it should be from eighteen inches to two feet high, so as to

allow the plants that are to grow under it plenty of room. When the case

and frame are finished, the whole should be mounted upon a stand, or

legs can be made with the case, under which are casters, by which to

move it about easily. Before planting, make a small funnel hole through

the bottom of the box, to allow the surplus water to escape rapidly, and

before putting in the soil, cover the bottom of the box two inches deep

with broken crocks or charcoal, or even gravel, to facilitate a rapid

drainage, a matter absolutely essential to the healthy growth of the

plants. Fill the box within an inch of the top with fine, rich, peaty

loam, and all will be ready to receive the plants. Those suitable for

growing in a case of this kind, should be such as will live and thrive

in a moist, still atmosphere, and are of slow growth; all rampant,

rank-growers must be discarded as being wholly unsuitable, as they would

soon become of such proportions that they could not be confined in so

limited a space. The following plants are eminently suited for Wardian

Cases, Jardinieres, etc.; Fittonias (Gymnostachyum), Fancy Caladiums,

Tradescantias, Cissus discolor, Gesnerias, some varieties of Crotons,

Dwarf-growing Begonias, Fancy Ferns, Lycopods, etc., etc., are very

suitable for this purpose. In arranging the plants in the case,

particular care should be taken to have them so placed that the

tallest-growing ones will be in the centre, and grading downward,

according to size, the Lycopods being on the bottom. The whole surface

of the soil may be covered with the trailing Lycopodium; by placing

small pieces here and there, it will soon spread over the entire

surface, making a beautiful ground work of purplish-green. Small,

highly-colored sea-shells, and beautifully-colored pebbles, are

scattered about among the plants, to enhance the beauty of the whole.

After the case has been filled the soil should be thoroughly soaked with

lukewarm water. Remove the case to a shady place for three or four days,

to allow the plants to recuperate, after which it can be placed in the

full light with safety. The lid or top should be lifted whenever there

is excessive moisture on the inside, which will be indicated by the

moisture trickling down on the inside of the glass. As a rule the plants

should have fresh air, by lifting the lid for a few minutes each day,

but beware of all cold draughts, or too much exposure to chilly

atmospheres. Ordinarily, once a month is often enough to water, this

must be governed by the circumstances, but they should never be allowed

to become dry, remembering that as warmth, moisture, and a still

atmosphere are secured, success will be certain.

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