CULTIVATION OF CARNATIONS
The amateur usually buys a plant in a 3-in. pot, in spring. Till May it stands in an airy light spot in the greenhouse or cold frame. Later it occupies a sunny dry spot in a sheltered garden. When roots come through the bottom of the pot, it is repotted into a larger size, and left outdoors till August. It must then return to the greenhouse, on a staging above gravel, shingle or cinders, in a cool, light spot. Flowers appear regularly from September to the end of spring, provided that the greenhouse is always kept above freezing-point.
During the winter, side shoots will develop, and from theseare taken to raise new plants. As new plants give the finer flowers, and are generally more shapely, it is recommended that cuttings should be taken each year, though the parent plant will flower for the summer in the open, or for the following winter if left in the greenhouse.
The cuttings should be chosen carefully, those near the base of the plant being usually best, though the lowest one is often badly formed. Discard any dwarfed, twisted or leggy shoots, and pull out each cutting at a joint or take it off with a heel, ie. off the main stem with a downward pull.
Remove the lower leaves. Insert the cutting in clean, sharp sand, with a bottom temperature of 60°, and a top temperature of 50°; or use a close, frostproof, propagating frame without heat. Water sparingly after the first few days.
When well rooted, put the cuttings into 2-in. pots, and stand in the light, but away from draught in the greenhouse. In from four to six weeks they will need 3-in. pots, and the centre portion should then be pinched out. Unless you want to put back your plants for winter flowering, let them grow on undisturbed, to flower in the border. If you require winter flowers only, stop the side shoots in June or July if they are too forward, by pinching out their centre also.
Disbudding is practised only for exhibition purposes, otherwise it can be dispensed with at will.
Soil. A heavy loam is best. For the first potting, add sharp sand or small brick rubble. For the second potting, add wood-ashes and burnt earth. For the final potting add to twelve parts of loam, not too finely chopped, three parts of old well-decayed cattle manure, one part ashes.
In addition, a 5-in. pot of bone-meal to each barrowload ofis recommended. The soil should be well rammed in the pots, so that there are no air spaces.
MARGUERITE CARNATIONS and the CHABAUD STRAINS are perennials, but usually treated as, and raised from seed. They contain all the varieties of colour known to Carnations and are equally good for border or conservatory. Those who do not yet know them should try them, if only for their value in the house vases.
Cultivation. Sow seeds in heat, in January. Prick out into boxes. Pot up into sixty-size pots, and in April into forty-eight size. Use good fibrous loam, enrich with well-rotted leaf-mould, add crushed mortar rubble, wood-ash and sharp sand. Pot firmly, and expect your flowers in June.
SWEET WILLIAMS are old friends, and well-known. For them any ordinary soil and an outdoor life are sufficient. The seed is sown in late spring, and the are thinned or transplanted as soon as possible. The permanent quarters of Sweet Williams in the open border should be 12 in. apart, and they must take up their abode there in autumn to flower well the following summer.
CHINESE PINKS are grown from seed in the same way, as also are Sweet Wivelsfields.
PERENNIAL BORDER PINKS are propagated by seeds, cuttings,, and division, and though they are less finicky than many plants concerning soil conditions, they object to removal. They flourish best in a sunny sheltered spot, with plenty of lime in the soil, and an annual dressing of well-decayed manure.
Seeds are sown in boxes in the open in April or May. Cuttings are struck in sandy soil in a frame in July. Layers are rooted in the same month, and both are ready to pot up in aof loam and well-rotted manure in September. Division of the plant is also done in September, in cases when the clumps have become spreading and bare in the centre, and the divided portions should be planted out at once in fresh soil.
Allwoodii are cultivated in a similar manner, but after planting the tops are pinched out to make the growth more bushy. They will flourish anywhere, except under dripping trees or in a sunless border. Should they be in a somewhat damp position, a top dressing of grit will prevent the moisture collecting round the collar of the plants. They are excellent plants for window-boxes,, hanging baskets, roof gardens and rockeries.
ROCK GARDEN SPECIES
All the species of Dianthtis grown in are more or less scented, and profuse in flowering. They are sun-loving plants, and require only the ordinary soil of theand a sunny pocket to flower profusely.
Propagation of these species is by seed, which is freely produced, or after flowering is over, by cuttings, which root readily in sand under a hand-light. They are ready for individual pots in a short time and form good flowering plants by next spring. Some of the best and easiest Rock species to cultivate are:
Dianthus Allwoodii alpinus—obtained by crossing Allwoodii withand other species and intercrossing the progeny. They are miniature plants, very useful in the rock garden.
Dianthus ccesias—the Cheddar Pink (from the rocky gorge in Somerset).
Dianthus delloides—the Maiden Pink.
Dianthus granilicus—with small starry, speckled pink flowers, and trailing habit.
Diseases that attack this genus are mainly Carnation Rust and Red Spider. The Rust is spread by spores which may be blown for considerable distances, and it has seemed difficult to discover a complete cure or preventive. American opinion discounts the recommendation to spray with Bordeaux mixture, as after a short time the spraying appears to have little effect, and inclines to the attempt to produce immune varieties rather than to cure the sick.
The suggestion was made that a spraying with salt solution (eight 6-in. potfuls of common salt to fifty gallons of water), stirred from the bottom to equalize the strength, and used both from above and from below the foliage, would stop the attacks both of Rust and of Red Spider. Three or four days after this application, the plants must be syringed with clear water. Otherwise the foliage must be kept dry. The treatment must not be repeated oftener than once a fortnight.
English growers advocate, variously: burning all affected parts, brushing the leaves attacked with a solution of permanganate of potash, and smothering plant, pot and surrounding surface with old soot.
One grower considers he owes his freedom from Rust to the top- dressing of old soot, one trowelful on each 8-in. pot, which he gives to his potted layers in May. The same grower applied the salt treatment given above without the washing and found it both effective and safe. A suggestion to dispose of all pests by high-tension electricity has yet to be tried.