Imágenes de páginas

of its dry heat only; the little gas escaping from our best furnaces is not sufficient to affect plants injuriously. And while speaking of gas, if possible avoid the use of gas light in the room; the unconsumed gas, always given off, is

fatal to delicate plants, and hurtful to the most hardy. If

you must use gas in the room, arrange glass doors to shut

off your plants from the room, or give up window plants, and confine yourself to growth in Wardian cases. If a furnace is your only means of heating, provide for sufficient moisture by constant evaporation. Another objection to a furnace is, that it keeps the room too warm for a healthy growth of the plants.

The cause of so many window plants showing long,

white, leafless stalks, with a tuft of leaves on the end, is,

too great heat and too little light. Proportion the two, and you obtain a short, stocky, healthy growth. In rooms, this proportion is always unequal. In winter, there are eight hours of sun to sixteen of darkness; we keep the plant at a temperature of sixty to seventy degrees all the twenty-four. In a green-house, on the contrary, the temperature falls to forty degrees at night, rising, by the heat of the sun, by day, to a maximum of seventy.


This must not be neglected; it is as essential to the health of the plant as to the human organization. The best method of providing it is to open the top of the window when the sun's rays are hottest on the plants. The quantity of air to be given must be proportioned to the outside temperature. In cold, cloudy days, but little, and often none,

should be given. Care 'must be taken never to allow a

direct stream of cold air to blow upon any plant.


This must be done frequently. A plant breathes like an

animal, and not through one mouth, but thousands. As is

well known, the plant draws up its food from the soil

through the roots, in a liquid form. This food, very much

diluted, must be concentrated, and thus assimilated to the

plant. We have in the leaves of the plant, a most beautiful arrangement to answer this need. They are filled with

stomata," or breathing pores, which allow exhalation when moisture is freely supplied, and check it when the supply falls off. These little mouths are found on both sides of

the leaf in most plants, but usually on the lower side in by far the greater number. They vary in different plants from several hundred to more than one hundred and fifty thous sand to a square inch of leaf. Now we are careful in our own persons to bathe daily, lest, as we say, the pores of the

skin become obstructed; yet we are willing to allow our

plants to go unwashed for a whole winter, when the pores

are much smaller, more numerous and delicate, than those

of the body. The rule is obvious: wash the leaves of the

plants, both under and upper sides, at least once a week; if oftener, the better. Use water moderately warm, and if the plants become very dirty, a little weak soap-suds is beneficial. This washing should be carefully done with a soft sponge or cloth in the case of plants with thick, polished leaves, such as camellias, oranges, and daphnes, Where plants have hairy leaves, or the substance is soft,

[ocr errors]

water is best applied with a small syringe, fitted with a

rose.' To use this, place the plant on its side in the kitchen sink, syringe it well, turning it from side to

very fine 56

side. Let it stand a few minutes for the water to drain off,

and return it to its place: it will thank you for its bath by its bright foliage, Never wet the flowers of a plant; water always injures them; nor allow drops of water to stand on any leaves in the sunshine: the rays of the sun form a focus in the drop of water and scorch the leaf.

Once a

month, at least, wash the stem and branches of all the hardwooded plants with a soft sponge dipped in lukewarm water; this prevents the lodgment of insects, and con

tributes to the health of the plant.


Is one of the most difficult subjects to prescribe by rule, yet there are some rules of general application.

Let it be always done with a watering-pot with a fine rose, such as may be procured at any tinman's. The advantage of this is, it allows the water to fall drop by drop over the whole surface of the soil, whereas, if a pitcher is

used, the plants are deluged, or holes made in the earth by the stream of water, and the roots not unfrequently dis


Let it be done regularly; the morning is the best time,

and once a day.

The surface of the soil should never be allowed to become

perfectly dry, nor should it be sodden with moisture.


temperature of the water used is of vital importance. It

should neither be cold nor warm, but just the temperature

of the atmosphere of the room. Thus no check, or chill, or undue excitement is given to the roots, both roots and

branches being equally warm.

A good plan is, to set over night a large pan of water among your flowers, then you will be sure of a sufficiency of water of the proper temperature for the morning watering. If this is too much trouble, remember in watering, it is better to have the water too warm than too cold, that is,

of a higher rather than a lower temperature than the roots and branches. Now as to the quantity of water. No rule

of universal application can be prescribed. What is life to one class of plants is death to another. The amount of

water necessary to make a calla lily thrive would kill a

cactus or a heath, and yet the drought necessary for the

cactus would be death to the heath.

A good rule, however, is never to allow the soil to become dusty or muddy, and 'with drainage in potting the latter is easily prevented; by regular waterings, the for

Particulars of treatment for different plants will be given when treating of each plant.

Never allow water to stand in the saucers of the pots unless the plants are semi-aquatic.



Choose the common flower-pots, selecting those which

are light colored rather than those which are brick red; the

« AnteriorContinuar »