The appropriate plant adds to the charm of any interior
ANNE ELIZABETH WILSONJanuary11927
The appropriate plant adds to the charm of any interior
ANNE ELIZABETH WILSON
NOW that the Christmas season is over, there still will be
on the market a great number of the so-called holiday plants at a good deal more reasonable purchase price than before the gift-season. With proper care such flowers can be prolonged in good condition until Easter. Azaleas, begonias, cyclamen, epiphyllum, solanum, cineraria and spirea fill the florists’ windows, and the various ferns are obtainable in profusion.
The truth that one man’s meat is another man’s poison, holds true to some extent in the care of plants. It is always possible, however, to make a selection of kinds that require about the same temperature and the same humidity, and tend them as a class. There are a few practical suggestions that may be applied to all houseplants, however.
The first, is in regard to jardinieres. They should be carefully watched to see that the plant is not standing in water; this creates a soil sourness which is fatal to even the most hardy growth. All plants need light; all home plants need moisture—if this is available, both at the root and in the atmosphere, so much the better. Careful watering is essential. If the pots are tapped and ‘ring,’ the assumption is that water is required. The containers should not be stood in water, but so placed that the water can drain away freely. A little artificial nutrient in the form of plant tablets, used according to direction, or nitrate of soda (one quarter ounce to the gallon) is not bad thing bi-weekly. Light is of the greatest importance to plants; without it, green plants cannot assimilate their food because their chlorophyll cells cannot function. You have noticed how colorless is a plant grown in the dark. This is because it had not the sunlight to stimulate its chlorophyll, which is the essential green property. Whether the plants are of the sun-loving or shade-loving kinds, we should see that they are placed in positions where
the light diffusion is good.
Take the azalea, for instance. The ordin-
ary atmosphere of a home is often too dry for these flowers, and is frequently the chief trouble in the case of newly purchased plants. They should have as light a position as possible, and should not be placed near gas and radiators. The plants must be watched, to make sure that the soil does not dry out. If the bloom shows signs of wilting, stand the pot in a pail of water for about twenty minutes in order that the ball of soil be thoroughly saturated. It may seem a little troublesome, but it is worth while to place azaleas in a cool room at night; one in which the temperature does not exceed sixty degrees.
Begonias come in many varieties. The Lorraine, Cincinnatti and Melior varieties are popular at this time of year. The flowers are rose pink in color. Varieties of begonia gracilis or hybrids of it, such as begonia gracilis rosea, Salmon Queen, a most lovely plant, Vernon, with light orange carmine flowers and red foliage, and begonia luminosa with flowers of brilliant dark scarlet, are also delightful. The fibrous-rooted begonias are of a permarent nature, and are more desirable for their foliage than their flowers. An old favorite is the Rex, the variety aurea, which is of great enduring characteristics. These plants like a good light position, away from draught, gas and direct heat. At this season, the pots will likely be very full of roots, making careful washing with water very necessary. All dead blooms should be picked off, and the dust removed from the leaves. Plants collect dust, especially in rooms heated by hot air,
and unless it is removed they cannot breathe properly, and good growth is thwarted. As begonias grow, they will require support probably, but two or three small sticks and string is all that is necessary.
Cyclamen is a gracious plant. It has remarkable lasting qualities, and responds easily to the lease care. It is not at all un-
usual for cyclamen purchased at this time of year, to look fresh and sturdy at Easter. Like the other flowers mentioned, cyclamen requires a certain amount of humidity to keep in good shape, and dryness is deleterious. Watering must be done carefully, and drying out avoided. Of course, in the green houses, the atmosphere is constantly warm and damp, and although it is impossible to reproduce such an atmosphere in the home, it is, nevertheless, not difficult to keep up proper conditions by watering, keeping the leaves clean, and setting the plant in the kitchen sometimes. The kitchen, by the way, is an excellent plant-hospital, for it is the only room in the house where there is naturally any real humidity. A good position in a sunny window is the best for cyclamen, during the day time, and anywhere that decoration is necessary in the room at any other time. When the cyclamen comes into your house, it represents probably eighteen months of culture before reaching your hands. Whatever little special attention you can give, therefore, seems wmrth while in carrying it through to its full span of life.
Primulas are desirable plants, but sometimes have a peculiar effect on the skin, producing a rash much like poison ivy. If one is at all subject to plant poisoning, it would be well to avoid them. However, it is not one person in fifty who wrould be subject to it.
Every year thousands of cineraria or senecio are sold for use in homes. There are at least three types in many colors, the star-flowered, the large-flowered and the cactus-flowered. They range from pure white to intense purple or crimson. Ordinary conditions suit them well.
The aspidistra is a truly domesticated plant, for
it flourishes in a temperature comfortable to human beings. It will flourish in a cool hall-way or in a living room of ordinary temperature, and requires very little attention but a fair amount of light and occasional watering. It is of two sorts, the green-leaved and the variegated, both of which are very attractive. Other plants which flourish in ordinary house conditions are the lobster cactus, with its profusion of deep rose-pink flowers; spiraea, baby’s tears, a sort of creeper which hangs gracefully over the edges of its container, and the fuchsia, with its numerous pendant flowers, so attractive for baskets or window-boxes.
Ferns, Foliage Plants and Grasses
FERNS, even more than the flowers already mentioned, require a humid atmosphere for growth. Their general treatment is that of flowers. If the plant
is near a window, turn it occasionally, so that every side will have its share of sunlight, for all this will make for symmetrical growth. An overhead sprinkling once a week is advantageous.
Chief among the true ferns which are successful as indoor plants is the Boston fern. This is of two varieties-—one type is distinctly upright, the other droops over its container in slender and graceful arms. The pteris ferns are excellent, and the maidenhair also is sold in restricted quantities. This fern will not last long, but while it does, it is delicacy and grace itself. The other two, the Boston and the pteris, will do well under ordinary living room conditions and are easily preserved for years. A good way to insure a moist mulch about the roots of ferns, is to place steeped tea-leaves about their stems over the earth of their pots. This holds moisture long after watering, preserving the soil conditions to which they are accustomed in the wild state.
The asparagus fern is an excellent foliage plant, as is the variety called Asparagus sprengeri. These two flourish in ordinary living-room temperatures, and will endure for many years. Other foliage plants which will be at home only in a sun-room, are the multi-colored croton or codiaeum, a warm green-house plant, and only satisfactory for a short sojourn in the living room, as well as the dracaena or cordyline.
An unusual plant, which recommends
itself to charming house use, is the spider lily. Very much in the nature of the decorative grasses, which are such a useful adjunct in the dressing of the out-door garden, this delicate, white-striped foliage is the smartest possible interior greenery. In its natural state, this plant would throw creepers along the ground, sprouting offshoots. In a pot, these creepers hang in graceful drops from the main plant with their cascades of new leaves at intervals. Anyone of these clumps may be removed and potted, starting an entirely new growth. Beginning with one’ spider lily, you could soon fill the length of a window with its clear, cool green, and the curtain of drooping creepers falling below.
The baby ivy is one of the most endearing of the plants which may be grown, indoors, throughout the winter. Commonly known as English ivy, although emanating originally from Ireland, it is
the fastest growing of all the ivies. In a hanging vase, it is beautifully decorative, and is especially adapted to indoor growing, for it does not become over-long or cumbersome in this smaller variety. With potted ivy and spider lily growing indoors, there should be no difficulty in supplying your own table garnishings. The ivy is very decorative, with its heavily-veined, smooth, waxy leaves—almost a conventional marking against the deep rich green of its healthy coloring.
Bulbs and Their Growing
DERHAPS of all indoor plants, the bulbs such as hyacinth, narcissus, tulips and freesia are the easiest to tend, and they yield the satisfaction of being grown entirely by the owner. Any good loam is satisfactory for growing bulbs, and the pots should be large enough to accommodate root-growth. In a low pot, six inches in diameter, four or five hyacinths will grow nicely, six or seven crocuses, four tulips, six or more narcissi, and as many freesia. When potting, place a few pieces of broken pottery or charcoal in the bottom of the crock to produce free drainage, and place the earth in loosely. Tap the crock gently against the table tof settle the soil, and, while still loose, set each bulb on top and press gently down until the top is flush with the earth. You can now firm the soil with the fingers, leaving about an inch empty at top to
allow for free watering. It takes from six to eight weeks for a satisfactory root system to develop, so that the best procedure is to water the bulbs generously, right after planting, and place in the cellar or some other dark, fairly cool place for that length of time before forcing. If the atmosphere in which the bulbs are set to root is too high, the roots will form too quickly, and the resultant bloom will be short-lived. The temperature should not go above forty-five degrees Fahrenheit. When the pots are full of roots—and this may be ascertained in turning out the earth in the palm of the hand by striking the bottom of the pot gently—they may be brought upstairs to the sunlight. There should be a clearly-defined network of roots all about the outside of the pot soil before this is advisable, however. At first, it is better to place them in a fairly cool room—say where the temperature is from fifty to fifty-five degrees. Later, they may be moved to a warm room in the full sunshine, where regular and generous watering will usually produce fine bloom.
The Paper White narcissus is the one bulb which does not require to be put away before forcing, and it may be grown successfully in pebbles and water. Other narcissi require the usual treatment. Varieties which are particularly lovely, though we may have to wait a little longer for their bloom, are the Double Van Sion and Golden Spur, which bloom slightly earlier than the Emperor and Victoria. Madame Plemp and Empress are also excellent flowers. These are all trumpet narcissi. Sir Watkin and Cynosure are two of the best of the incomparabalis,(while Great Warley, Homespun and Lucifer are fine varieties and hardy.
The Gracious Hyacinth
HYACINTHS are easy to grow in the bulb vases procurable almost everywhere. They require to be set away just as though potted, and will do better if a little artificial nutrient is introduced into the water occasionally. The vases should be kept filled, so that the bottom of the bulb is always touching the water. The water may be kept sweet by a bit of charcoal in the bottom. Roman hyacinths are the first to bloom; Dutch hyacinths take longer. Hyacinths, in particular, require to be well rooted before they are forced. A few of the better varieties are Alba superbissima and La Grandesse, both white; Gigantia and Sarah Bernhardt, pink; Lord Macaulay, red; and Enchantress and King of the Blues, both blue.
Tulips provide blooip later than either the hyacinths or tulips, for they take longer to form a satisfactory root-system. With these, the early singles and early doubles seem to force better than the Darwins, with the exception of Clara Butt and Bartignon. However, these graceful, long-stemmed varieties may be grown indoors with care, and they have the added loveliness of a faint woodsy scent.
IMAGINE a dish of bloom which requires watering only once a week and lives a hundred years! Such is the practical charm of those delightful little garden groups of spineless cactus and ‘hens and chickens’ (Echeveria secunda) which are being built in favorite bowls and boxes for the dining-table or drawing room. They are wonderfully quaint, and surprisingly rich in color, for the occasional russet and red appears in the miniature ‘trees’ and ‘bushes’ while their beds of porous rock are softened with mosses of bright color or velvet green. They are miniature rock gardens in perpetuity, where the winking impudence of a grandfather cactus, the size and conformation of a baby mushroom, may look up through the pulpy leaves of its shrub-like brother to the columnar dignity of a cousin of the Navajo desert, or the bristling whiskers of the representative from Mexico.
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