Flowering Pot Plants

Space is always at a premium in all active greenhouses and any plants which have a resting period are most welcome, particularly if they flower at a time when flowering pot plants are somewhat scarce. The subjects dealt with in this section have the added advantage that they are permanent members of the greenhouse stock, in fact having made the initial purchase no further outlay is necessary.

The original bulbs will flower each year for a number of years, and from time to time offsets are formed which can easily be grown on to produce flowering-size bulbs.

FREESIA (FAMILY IRIDACEAE)

Freesias are half-hardy plants which grow from corms and flower in the spring. They can be grown from seed, but it is more satisfactory to start with corms, which are quite inexpensive and will flower in six months from planting.

They are not grown as pot plants but for use as cut flowers, and a convenient way to grow them is to plant six corms in a 6-in (15-cm) pot planting each corm 1 in (2.5 crp) deep and about 2 in (5 cm) apart using compost E6 or the equivalent. Freesia leaves are sword-like, similar to gladiola leaves, and, as they grow about 3Vi ft (1 m) in height, require some support.

The method I use is to push three 3-ft (90-cm) canes into the compost, at the side of the pot, equidistant from each other, and when the leaves are about 6 in (15 cm) tall, tic a piece of garden twine round the three canes, which has the effect of holding the leaves within the confines of the canes.

As the plants grow, more lies are made, right up to the top of the canes. After planting the corms, water the compost and then only sparingly until growth has been made and the leaves are well through the surface.

Freesias must be grown in a cool atmosphere if strong healthy growth is to be achieved. A planting in late summer, grown in a cold greenhouse which is only frost-proof, will usually provide flowers from the middle of spring.

Ideally freesias should be grown in 3 greenhouse with a minimum temperature of 40°F (4°C). They can be forced into earlier bloom, but care must be taken to avoid soft growth developing by using too high a temperature.

When the plants have finished flowering, keep watering the pots until the foliage shows signs of dying down, or until early summer, then cease watering altogether and place the pots in the full sun in the greenhouse with the object of ripening the corms. Remove the dead foliage when necessary.

Freesias can be started into growth any time from mid-summer to early winter, but if you are growing from the same corms every year the earliest you can plant will, to some extent, be governed by the previous flowering time, as the corms should be given a resting period for the flowers to die off and the corms to ripen.

Corms can be left in the old compost in the pots until you are ready to plant, and when you separate them from the compost you should find that a substantial number ofcormlets of different sizes have been produced. The largest ones will flower in the spring but the smaller ones will need a season's growth before becoming large enough to flower.

You will appreciate from this that freesias are very economical to grow, because once you have made your initial purchase your stock will grow each year and in three or four years you will have twice as many corms as you wish to grow.

It is necessary to repot freesias annually, in fresh compost to obtain the best results.

H1PPEASTRUM

(FAMILY AMARYLLIDACEAE)

The bulbs usually offered are all hybrids and there are a number of named varieties such as 'Apple Blossom' (white with pink markings), 'Happy

Memory' (while with red markings), 'Fire Dance' (red). 'Excelsior* (orange) and 'Mont Blanc' (white). Usually, however, they are only offered under a colour description such as red or orange. In Great Britain the first hybrid was raised by Arthur Johnson in 1799 by crossing Hipptasirwn rcgimu with H. viltatuin and was named ¡¡¡ppeasirum x johnstmii.

There are several species which are worth growing should you develop a keen interest in these plants. H.

Hippejtmm hybrids ha« very large showy flowers.

equestre, sometimes called the Barbados Lily, is a vivid scarlet with greenish markings at the base of the petals. It is of West Indian origin. II. vhtatum is creamy white with red stripes, from Central Andes. H. Candidam has drooping white blooms, and is fragrant and summer flowering, from Argentina. II. aulicum is a rich red with green at the base of the petals. It has much narrower petals, more like a sprekelia, and is winter flowering. It originates in Brazil.

Hippeastrums are usually grown from bulbs, which

Hippejtmm hybrids ha« very large showy flowers.

Bulbous Plants Brazil

are readily available. They can be raised from seed bur take about three years to reach flowering size, consequently it is hardly worthwhile to adopt this method of growing, unless a large number of plants is required.

Any good compost can be used, such as JI No.2, or a soilless compost. Select the pot according to the si2e of the bulb, the ideal being a pot which leaves a space of I in {2.5 cm) between the bulb and the side of the pot. Plant the bulb in the pot to leave about one third of the bulb above the level of the compost, which in turn should be about 1 in (2.5 cm) below the top of the pot. Water the compost by filling the pot with water up to the brim and then place the pot in the propagator at a temperature of 60-65°F{15- 18°C).

A good time to pot the plants is late winter, and by the beginning of spring the flower buds should be showing. As soon as the whole of the flower bud has grown out of the bulb and you can see the stem, move the plant out of the propagator to a cooler temperature. At this stage a day temperature of 50-60°F (10-15°C) will ensure steady strong growth, and will produce a sturdy plant. If allowed to remain too long in the propagator, in a temperature of some 60-70°F (15-18°C), the stem and also the leaves would tend to make sappy weak growth. The plants will stand a minimum night temperature of 45°F(7°C) without suffering any harm.

You may have read that hippeastrums flower before the leaves grow, but this is not so with modern hybrids, and all the bulbs I have grown during the last ten years have always grown leaves before the flower bud has appeared.

The appearance of the plant is very much more attractive when it has well-formed leaves at the time of flowering, and bulbs which fail to produce leaves until after the bulb has flowered are not really worth a place in a grower's collection.

Sometimes it happens that a bulb will send up leaves and no flower bud appears. Should this happen, reduce the watering and keep the compost dry until the bud appears and then water normally.

After the bulb has flowered and the petals have withered allow the stem to remain for a few weeks, then cut it offat the point where it emerges from the bulb. Keep the plant watered until the middle of summer, with an occasional suitable feed, after which new leaves are not likely to form so the pot can be allowed to gradually dry out by the end of the summer. During late summer the object is to ripen the bulb, hence the plants should be put in the sunniest place in the greenhouse.

During the winter the bulbs are left in their pots in the dry compost, and can be kept under a bench in the greenhouse providing that a minimum temperature of 45°F(7°C) is usually maintained. An occasional drop to 40°F (5°C) on very cold nights will not harm the bulbs providing the compost is dust-dry and devoid of any moisture.

Hippeastrums should be repotted in fresh compost every year. It will be found that the increase in the size of the bulb, by the year's growth, sometimes necessitates potting on into a larger pot. If one is to expect a strong healthy plant the following season, it is only logical to do everything possible to encourage the growth of the bulb, and this is done by giving the plant the best possible environment and a suitable compost. Advice on the culture of hippeastrums often states that the bulb only needs repotting every three years, but during the second and third years there would be very little plant food available to the bulb. Moreover, the bulb grows in size, and in three years should be appreciably larger, consequently the pot would be too small during the third year. It is better to repot every year, and no useful purpose is served in leaving the bulb undisturbed for three years; in fact, quite the reverse is true.

HYACINTH US (FAMILY LILIACEAE)

The Dutch hyacinth is one of the best know:n, and widely grown, spring bulbs; everyone with any interest in pot plants must have grown one at one time or another. The species was being grown in Europe as early as the sixteenth century, and found particular favour in the Netherlands, with the result that the Dutch became specialists in the growing and raising of new varieties, and a large nursery industry became established, which flourishes to this day.

The cultivation of Dutch hyacinths is comparatively simple, but there are one or two important points to watch if you wish to ensure that your efforts meet with success. The usual time to start the bulbs into growth is autumn for flowering sometime during the period mid-winter to early spring. You can buy Christ mas-flowering hyacinths, which are bulbs that have been specially treated, and these should be potted in late summer.

It is important not to mix different colours, of

Potting Hyacinths
Ilwuinlhui Dellt Blue'

which there is quite a wide range mostly in shades of reds and blues. When potting two or more bulbs together in the same bowl, make sure the bulbs are all the same variety and, if possible, all the same size. The purpose of this is to produce a bowl of hyacinth with flowers all in bloom at the same lime.

You have a wide choice of composts, none of which is better than another, but if you wish to grow hyacinths in bowls without any drainage holes it is better to use either bulb fibre or a soilless compost. Alternatively you can grow the bulb in water, for which purpose special glass vases are made,

A good method to use for potting hyacinths is to put a layer of compost in the container, then place the bulbs on this, as far apart as the container will allow-. Ensure that there is space between the bulbs and that they are not touching each other, then press compost down around the bulbs, leaving aboui Vi in (13 mm) of the tip ofthe bulb above the compost.

Give the compost a good watering and allow the surplus water to drain away, When planting in bowls, ihe way to do this is to hold the bowl at the steepest angle thai the contents will allow without spilling out ofthe bowl; this causes the excess water to appear ai the end ofthe bowl. When watering hyacinths in llyacinthtu '1'ink Pearl', llyacinthtu '1'ink Pearl',

Potting Plants Drainage

bowls, which do noi have any drainage holes, it is rather difficult to know whether you have over watered, and you should use this method to check.

After potting and watering, the bulbs must be kept in complete darkness, in a cool atmosphere, for the next six to ten weeks. Where you will keep the bulbs will depend on your circumstances but it is essential that the containers are kept in a cool atmosphere because warmth at this stage could be detrimental. Should you not have any suitable accommodation your best procedure would be to bury the containers, under about 4 in (10 cm) of peat, in the garden.

Examine the plants every seven to ten days and water only if absolutely necessary. As soon as the shoots are about I to 2 in (2.5-5 cm) high the bulbs should be placed in a shady spot, ideally in an atmosphere of about 50°F (10DC). If you do not have a suitable spot available, make cardboard cones and place these over the growing stems for about ten days.

First of all the leaves will develop and then, as these grow, the flower bud will appear. At this stage the container should be moved to a warmer situation; about 60 - 70°F(15-2I°C) is ideal. If the container is in the house, on a window-ledge, it should be turned regularly to ensure that all the shoots receive an equal amount of light; otherwise growth could be uneven and spoil the overall appearance. Keep the compost moist at'all times.

After flowering cut offthe flower heads, leaving the stems intact, continue watering and also feed the bulbs about once a fortnight with a general liquid feed. In due course the leaves will wither, and when this happens cease watering, allow the bulbs to dry, and store during the summer in a cool place if possible.

In the autumn the bulbs can be planted about 2 in (5 cm) deep in (he garden. They can be left in the garden indefinitely and should bloom for many years.

As mentioned, hyacinths can be grown in water and, in this instance, it is usually a single bulb growing in a special type of glass vase, which is shaped to hold the bulb in a firm upright position. A bulb grown in water needs the same conditions as already described, the only difference being the medium in which it is being grown. The best water to use is rainwater. Fill the vase with water until the surface of the water is just below the bottom of the bulb and not touching it. As the roots grow the level of the water can be allowed to drop until it is about V: - 1 in (13-25 mm) below the bottom of the bulb. Ii should be kept at this level by topping up, from time to time, if necessary. The water should not be changed throughout the whole cycle of the hyacinth's growth.

NERINE (FAMILY AMARYLLIDACEAE)

The nerine is a deciduous bulbous plant and the plants usually grown are derived from two species: Nerine umtiensis and N. botodenii.

Serine 'Blenheim'. This rarely seen pot plant ha* an ethereal beauty.

Serine 'Blenheim'. This rarely seen pot plant ha* an ethereal beauty.

Pot Plant Growth Cycles

N. sarnicnsis is the species commonly known as the Guernsey lily. The name originated in the same way as the Scarborough lily. According to one version bulbs were washed ashore on the coast of Guernsey from a shipwreck and began to grow. When the local inhabitants saw the beautiful flowers they commenced cultivating them and the blooms were sent as cut flowers to the English markets.

Nerines are natives of South Africa and N. sarnienrit is not frost-hardy and requires warmer conditions than .V. bovsdettii which is the hardiest of the species.

Nerines take three years to flower when grown from seed, so it is usual to purchase bulbs which should be potted in summer in an acid compost such as compost E2 with at least one third of the bulb above the soil level in 4-in or 4Vi-in (10 or 11-cm) pots depending on the size ol the bulb. After potting water the plants and when growth commences water moderately during the growing season which is from summer to spring. Cease watering when the leaves begin to yellow or at the end of the spring and keep quite dry from spring to late summer. Place the bulbs

Sprekelhi formasiatmo, the Jacobean Lilv. blooms in the spring in full sunlight in the greenhouse to ripen. It is only necessary to repot every three or four years.

Serine bowdenii has pink [lowers and blooms early to mid-autumn. N, samiensis ranges in colour from pale purple through red and pink to while. The original species is a glowing scarlet red. Sometimes it sends up a stem and flowers before the leaves appear and at other times the flower stem and leaves appear at the same time.

The nerine is a useful plant because it flowers in the autumn when not many flowering plants are available.

SPREKKLIA (FAMILY AMARYLLIDACEAE)

From Mexico and Guatemala, Sprekeiia formosmima was named in honour of Johann Heinrich Von Sprekelsen (1691 to 1764). It has an unusual flower, red in colour, and as it is very easy to grow ii is well worth growing two or three bulbs as a variation from other bulbous plants. Sprekelias require exactly the same treatment as hippeastrums in all respects, and if started into growth at the same lime will usually flower a few weeks later than a hippeastrum. Propagation is by offsets which form very freely.

Sprekelhi formasiatmo, the Jacobean Lilv. blooms in the spring

V ALLOT A {FAMILY AMARY1.L1DACEAE)
Pictures Flowering Pot Plants

I'j//tiiij j/ifL'iujj, the Scarborough Lily, is a dtlighliul bulbous plant.

The popular name in Britain for Ya Hot a speciosa is the Scarborough Lily, and according to legend it acquired this name because bulbs were washed ashore at Scarborough from a shipwreck, and the local inhabilants planted the bulbs, thus the plant became quite common in the town of Scarborough. It is native to South Africa.

Bulbs can be potted in late autumn or preferably in spring using JI No,2 or a soilless compost. The bulbs are rather small and a better effect is obtained if three bulbs are planted in 3 4'/2-in (11.5<m) pot rather than planting singly, in which latter case a 3Vi-in (9-cm) pot would suffice. After potting place the pots on the greenhouse bench in the heated pan, where the average temperature is 45-50°F (7- 10°C) during the autumn or the spring, Vallotas should not be

I'j//tiiij j/ifL'iujj, the Scarborough Lily, is a dtlighliul bulbous plant.

forced into growth bui allowed to grow naturally and they will stand a minimum winter temperature of 40°F(5°C).

If the bulbs are potted in spring they should be watered as required, and if you are very fortunate will flower in late summer, after which from early autumn until the following spring the plants should be watered sparingly and kept on the dry side to allow the bulbs to rest during the winter months. Repotting is only required every other year and is simply for the purpose of renewing the compost, which would contain very little nutrient after two years. Use the same size of pot.

Flowering Pot Plants

Bggenia rtx hybrid* are very coloutfu) foliage plants which art available in a w ide variety of leaf patterns and colours

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