National Viola and Pansy Society Newsletter Autumn 1997

FLORISTS' FLOWERS:

THEIR CULTIVATION AND MANAGEMENT

BY
JAMES DOUGLAS, F.R.H.S.

THE PANSY


AMONGST hardy border flowers, few are more generally grown or appreciated than the Pansy. It is one of those flowers that require but little attention, but as it will grow almost anywhere, even the small amount of care required to bring it to the highest point of perfection is not always bestowed upon it. A bed of seedling Pansies is easily obtained, and if the seeds be saved from good flowers, the mass of bloom, so beautifully diversified, has a charming effect. The first or second week in September is a good time either to sew seeds or put in cuttings of the named sorts. Those who have the convenience of glass-lights, or hand-glasses, would do well to sow the seeds or plant the cuttings in shallow boxes or pans, and place them under glass; not that the seeds will not vegetate, or the cuttings strike roots in the open ground, but they will do better under glass. In sowing the seeds I fill the pans nearly full of a compost consisting of loam, leaf-mould, and sand, in about equal parts, the loam predominating a little; I make the surface quite level, then sprinkle the seed thinly over it, and just cover them with fine soil. The same compost answers well for cuttings, and these should be taken from the centre of the plants. The smallest growths strike root most readily, but the strong-flowering stems take a long time and are seldom satisfactory. When the seedling Pansies are large enough to handle, I prick them out in fine sandy soil on a level surface, and I do the same with the young plants raised from cuttings; they are also planted out about three inches apart until they are well rooted, when they may be planted out in beds or borders prepared for them.

The Pansy likes a cool soil and climate, and though our garden soil is very light and sandy, on a gravelly sub-soil, and the air is hot and dry, we grow them very successfully. This last season I had a bed of them 60 feet long and 3 feet wide, which continued in flower from March, until the frost came in November, and in good condition the whole time. The preparation of the ground for this bed was done in September. It was trenched 2 feet deep and well manured with cow manure, the best for this purpose. The surface of the bed was also lightly forked over two or three times when it was dry, and I was also able to piece some fine virgin loam on the surface before planting. All the attention required after this was merely keeping the ground free from weeds, and occasionally stirring the surface. Many may be inclined to think that this is a great deal of trouble to take with such a flower as the Pansy or Heartsease but those who are really fond of flowers will take a pleasure in doing all they can in order to attain success. Pansies produce flowers in succession and so freely that they will ultimately come quite out of character.

As soon, however, as it is seen that the flowers are deteriorating, by the belting (see fig. 16) becoming imperfect, nearly all the blooms should he pinched off, and the shoots should be pegged down close to the surface of the ground, having previously placed some rotten manure on the surface, and, if the weather be dry, give a good soaking of water. The next flowers produced after this will be of good quality. This same operation must be performed as often as it is necessary, and the result will be good blooms all through the season. When it is intended to exhibit Pansies the shoots should he thinned out to about five or six, and all the flowers should be removed two weeks before the show.

The Pansy succeeds so well out-of-doors that it almost seems superfluous to grow it in pots; the only object in doing so is to have the flowers earlier, and also to protect them from the rough weather experienced early in the year. The cuttings for plants in pots should be taken earlier than in the case of outdoor plants, say the first week in August, and they should be propagated in the same way. When rooted they must be potted in small pots, and they should be placed near the glass in a cold frame; when the little plants have quite filled their pots with roots, repot them into 4-in. ones, and by the middle of October they may have their final shift into 6-in or 7-in. pots, according to the strength of the plants. In all stages of their growth the plants should be quite near the glass in the cold frames; the lights should be removed when the weather is fine, or where rain is falling gently, but they must he protected from heavy thunder showers. Green-fly attacks the plants when grown under glass, and would seriously injure them if it were not at once destroyed. I prefer fumigating with tobacco smoke, and the lights must be kept quite close when the operation is being performed. It is best not to fill the frame too full of smoke. On the contrary, rather fumigate three times at intervals of three days. If the frame be placed in a sunny position, the plants will commence to flower early in February if the weather be mild; of course, they will make no progress during frosty weather; and they will continue to produce flowers until the end of April, when those out-of-doors will succeed them. The potting material should be good turfy loam, four parts; leaf-mould, one part; rotten cow manure one part; with some sharp sand added if necessary. Weak liquid manure should he applied when the first flowers open, if the pots are well filled with roots.


Secretary's Notes Subscriptions Awards to Blooms Schedule Changes for 1998 A.G.M. Annual Show Shrewsbury
Ayr Show Kings Heath The Pansy Around the Gardens Ceri Bowen Plant Distribution 1998 Society Library


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