Gardening Articles

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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