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BEGONIA REX LEAF, SHOWING THE MANNER OF CUTTING THE VEINS TO PREPARE IT FOR PROPAGATING.
sphagnum moss, cocoa-nut fiber, leaf-mold, or any light material, should be rubbed through a mosquito-wire, and sifted on the seeds just enough to cover them. Either of these substances is better to cover seeds with than ordinary soil; owing to their sponge-like character, the proper degree of moisture is obtained, while their lightness offers but little resistance to the feeble germ. After covering, a gentle watering should be given with a fine-rose watering-pot; and if the seeds are placed in a temperature averaging sixty degrees, the young seedlings will begin to show themselves breaking through the covering in from six to twenty days, according to the nature of the plant. But in quite a number of species of plants there is a tendency to " damp off," as it is called,
with paper for a few days until they take root. Fig. I represents two boxes of plants raised in this manner, the larger one filled with Centaurea candidissima (Dusty Miller), and the smaller with Pyrethrum parthenium aureum (Golden Feather), both of which are plants now largely used in " ribbon-line gardening" or "massing in color."
Propagating by cuttings is always an interesting operation; and, to many, plants grown from slips of their own raising have a value far greater than if purchased when
fully developed. Nearly all European writers on this subject have so befogged it with technical nonsense that few not regular professional florists have ever attempted it, unless on some of the commonest kinds of plants. It is now, however, considered one of our simplest operations, and any one with ordinary intelligence can perform it successfully if the following brief instructions are strictly followed: When plants are wanted in large quantities, elevate a bench above the flue or hot-water pipes to within a foot or so of a
glass at the front, and on this bench place three or four inches of any ordinary clean sand. This bench should be boarded down in front, to confine the heat from the flue or pipes under it, so as to give what is called "bottom heat." The sand on the bench so formed, during the winter season, when the greenhouse is fired, will indicate a temperature of sixty-five to seventy degrees, while the atmosphere of the greenhouse should be ten degrees less. Now if the cuttings or Now if the cuttings or slips are in the right condition, and are inserted an inch or so in the sand, and freely watered, and shaded from the sun from nine or ten A. M. to three or four P. M., ninety-nine out of every hundred will take
usual manner, should be inserted in the sand about close enough to touch each other. The sand should then be watered to bring it to the condition of mud. Thus filled, the saucer is placed in a hot-bed, on the shelf of the greenhouse, or in a window exposed to the sun in the dwelling-house-in each case fully exposed to the sun, and never shaded. But one condition is essential to success: until the cuttings become rooted the sand must be kept continually saturated with water, and always in a condition of mud. Care must be taken in watering to do it gently, so as not to throw down the cutting, as it is essential that the cut part remain always in the mud. If the tempera
ture of the room or greenhouse averages from sixty-five to eighty-five degrees, and if the cuttings were in the proper condition, success is certain, and finely rooted slips may be expected in from ten to twenty days from the time they were put in the saucers. higher temperature may be maintained by the saucer system of propagating than by the other, as the slips are in reality placed in water, and will not wilt, provided the mud is not allowed to dry up. Fig. 2 shows the propagators at work making and placing the cuttings in the sand. To the right of the figure is a cutting made ready to be placed
in the sand. The popular idea that it is necessary to cut a slip at a joint or an eye is an error; it makes no difference whatever in the formation of roots, unless in such plants as have tuberous roots, like the dahlia, where a joint or eye is necessary, that the roots may develop eyes the next season. Propagation of plants by leaves is another method employed, and one that is a neverceasing source of wonder. When we examine a leaf of Begonia rex, chased and shaded like frosted or burnished silver, nothing indicates that there is anything about it any more than about any other leaf-that it has the germs of a score of lives dotted all over its beautiful surface. Yet we know that if one of these leaves, the veins being first cut across, as in Fig. 5, is thrown down in any moist place, at a temperature of seventy or eighty degrees, in a month its surface becomes dotted all over with tiny plants, facsimiles, so to speak, of the "mother" leaf, which gives up her life for her offspring. In Fig. 4, to the right, is a representation of Begonia rex, showing the manner in which the young plants start from the leaf; but no
drawing in black-and-white can convey an adequate suggestion of the original. To the left, in the same figure, is a leaf of Bryophyl lum calycinum, another singular plant, which emits young plants from the serrated edge of the leaf. Single leaves, three by six inches in size, sometimes have as many as thirty young plants attached. The leaves of this plant are dropped on the ground while growing in the open air, and every one, large or small, at once develops its tiny progeny from the margins of the leaves; or, if a leaf is taken off the plant and pinned against a moist wall, in a few weeks young plants are formed. Another family of plants, known as Peperomia, develop plants from the footstalk. (See Fig. 6.)
Propagation of plants by layering is another method often practiced by amateurs who require only a few plants, but is now very little used by the professional florist. Fig. 3 shows the manner of cutting and pegging down in the soil the shoot of a rosebush, so as to obtain a layered plant. The plant in the flower-pot (Fig. 3) is a variegated-leaved geranium, with some of the
shoots cut so as to hang only by a portion of the bark. This plan of propagating is what is termed "layering in the air," and I believe I was the first to originate it, about twelve years ago. This method has been found to be very useful in increasing variegated-leaved plants of such kinds as are liable to rot off when put in as ordinary slips or cuttings. After being allowed to hang on the plant for ten or twelve days, the wound heals over, and, if the atmosphere is moist, roots will be emitted as the slip hangs on the plant; but, even if not, the healing over, or "callus," as it is technically termed, is the condition preparatory to rooting; and when these slips are detached and potted, nearly every slip will quickly form a rooted plant. Besides, it is a great advantage to the health of the old plant on which the slips have been "layered" not to detach them at once, as all propagators of plants know that, when many slips are taken off the plant at once, it lessens its vigor to such a degree as often to destroy it. "Layering in the air," however, is not only more certain in rooting the slips, but does little or no injury to the motherplant.
The potting of plants is first begun by taking the rooted slips or cuttings from the cutting-bench or saucer, or the young seedlings from the boxes, as shown in Fig. 2, and "potting" or planting them (in finely sifted soil) in small flower-pots, usually two inches wide and deep. After the slips have
FIGURE II. CALLA LILY.
been thus potted in small pots, they should be freely watered and shaded for two or three days, until the roots begin to strike into the soil. According to the nature of the plant