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Plants Online - Carnation

Plants for sale - Carnation

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Carnation
Hardy Perennial
1 to 2 feet.
Flowers in various colours. July and August.

The carnation is above all other flowers self-willed and irresponsive to the best meant attentions. There are few plants more ardently desired by the amateur gardener, and probably none with more painful recollections attached to their career than the carnation. Soil and situation have most to do with it; there are some gardens where the Old Clove will grow almost like a weed, there are others where the most laborious care in making up special beds and transforming the soil is all in vain. If, after fair trial, carnations are found not to thrive, it is far the best course to root them out, cross them off the books of one’s desires, and turn one’s energies to something which is really happy in its surroundings. Those who wish to try the experiment, or have evidence that the plant will do well with them, should get rooted layers of good “Border” kinds in early March – not the “Malmaison” or “Tree” varieties – and plant them in soil that has been thoroughly dug and manured with old hot-bed stuff, road-grit, mortar-rubbish pounded up, and a little soot. The natural soil favoured by the carnation is a stiff-ish loam; a light soil should be made decidedly firm before planting. Eschew fresh turf, for fear of wire-worm. The layers should be put out nine inches or a foot apart every way; they will need hoeing and surface stirring in the course of the summer, and water, followed by a light top-dressing of leafy soil, if the weather be very dry. As the flower-stems rise they must be tied neatly to hazel twigs. A large tuft of carnation may throw up a hundred buds, which to some extent support each other; but a young plant with its two or three flower-stems, if not helped with as stick, will soon recline on the ground. In some soils wire-worm is very destructive to carnations; good digging and clean cultivation, and the avoiding of fresh turf in the compost are the best preventatives. In the spring the young growth is often damaged by sparrows; black cotton stretched on sticks just above the plants is an absolute safeguard. The most serious enemy of the carnation is the disease called “spot”, which appears in stained or withered patches on the leaves or “grass” and rapidly destroys the whole plant. There is no practicable cure for “spot”; the affected plantation should be taken up and burned at once. Carnations may be propagated by cuttings or “pipings”, by layers, or by seeds. Cuttings should be made of side-shoots which have not produced flowers in August, or immediately the plant begins to go out of bloom. The lower leaves should be stripped off, and the shoot cut through clean and square just below one of the joints of the stem. The cuttings must be dibbled in light sandy soil under a light or bell-glass, watered in and given shade and moisture as may be necessary. Layering is much safer way of raising carnations than by cuttings. Directly the flowering is over, break up the soil carefully round the plants about an inch deep, and six some sandy compost with it. The shoots to be propagated should be healthy growths that have not flowered, in such a position that they can easily be bent down to the ground. Trim off a few of the lower leaves, and then with a thoroughly sharp pen-knife cut in a slanting direction half-way through one of the joints about the middle of the shoot. The cut must begin about a quarter of an inch behind the joint (i.e. towards the main plant) slope upwards and forwards through the knot of the joint, and end half an inch in front of it. The thin end or tongue where the knife entered must be cut off close to the joint; in doing this take care not to cut into the joint itself. When the layer is thus prepared, it must be pressed into the soil so that the cut is covered with rather less than an inch; to keep it in position a hooked peg cut from a hazel-twig, or a piece of bent wire must be pushed firmly into the ground just behind the cut. It need hardly be said that the half amputated shoot is very brittle, and needs delicate handling during these processes. If the weather is dry, the parent plant should have a good soaking of water the night before the layering is done; and after the operation, the soil should be kept moderately moist. If all goes well, the layers should be rooted in two months’ time; they can then be cut away from the stock-plant, and put out in nursery beds or flowering quarters. At this stage the new root-fibres are short and delicate, and great care must now be used in getting them up and re-planting them unbroken.
Carnations from cuttings or layers “come true”, or reproduce the qualities of the parent. Plants grown from seed may “sport”, and always produce a proportion of single flowers, but they are as a rule more healthy and vigorous than those more artificially propagated; and the man who is a general gardener and not a mere fancier will do well to trust mainly to sowing. The seed may be started in pots or boxes in a moderate hot-bed about the middle of March; in a cold frame in May, or (with a little extra care in watering and shading) in a snug corner in the open in July. The soil should be light and rich; the seed should be sown thinly, watered with judgement, and the seedlings pricked out as soon as they are manageable. The earlier sowings should flower about August; the latter, in June and July of the following year. In soils where carnations thrive, seed of good mixed “border” kinds should be sown, also of picotees(A Picotee is a carnation, of whatever colour, which has a band or border of another colour round the outer edge or circumference of the flower; a “self” carnation is a flower entirely of one colour; a “flaked” carnation one which has striped or markings running like spokes of a wheel from the centre to the edge) and the fine scarlet kind called Grenadin, which (if rather high proportion of singles be condoned) is one of the best for the purpose. But the most suitable kinds for raising from seed are the dwarf early-flowering varieties introduced during the last ten or fifteen years, usually called Marguerite or Margarita. If seeds be put in pots or boxes in brisk heat in March, the seedlings pricked out under glass and planted in the open in May, a fine show of flowers may be had by the middle of August. Sowings may also be made without heat, in a frame or greenhouse from May to July inclusive; the plants for these should be planted out in the autumn or wintered in frames if the soil and conditions are unfavourable; they will flower in July of the following year. By growing the Marguerite strains annually from seed, it is possible to have carnations in soils where the ordinary border kinds are impossible. It is worth noting that the Pink, though closely related to the Carnation, does not have its fastidious tastes, and will grow freely where the other fails. If named Carnations are required, rooted layers must be obtained in March or April. Unless the conditions are altogether against carnations, an effort should be made to grow the old Crimson Clove, which, when it succeeds, is one of the best and most distinct things in a garden.

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