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Garden Gimmicks

In 1953, the Gibsonville Methodist Church sponsored a book called "Garden Gimmicks". Although some of the suggestions seem dated, they are as valid today as they were then. I'll be listing some of these "gimmicks" on this page from time to time, so check back frequently for updates.

[Special Note: These are presented here for your amusement, amazement, and entertainment.  We at Annand's have not tried all of these. We don't guarantee that they work, but they were published in good faith many years ago.]

You can either browse the entire list of gimmicks or jump directly to the subjects listed below:

General Garden Hints
House Plants
African Violets
Christmas Cactus
Roots and Bulbs
Calla Lilies


General Garden Hints
The best materials to use for mulches are clean leaves (oak leaves in particular), salt hay, shredded redwood bark, and peat moss.
Destroy all corn stalks and hollow stemmed weeds so that borers cannot get into them.
Kill Poison Ivy the middle of June when it is in full leaf. Weed killer will do the job.
Keep insecticides in an locked cabinet or cupboard in the garage or garden house away from the reach of children. Label all cans and glass containers.
Hang long-handled garden tools on the wall of the garage or basement. Use a board nailed to the wall on which to hang short-handled tools.
Don't work the soil in spring before it is ready.
Water transplanted plants immediately. Best procedure is to water each plant as you go along.
Water in the morning; spray or dust with rising temperatures but not when temperature goes above 75 degrees.
Transplant in the cool of the. evening or on a cloudy day.
Weed when the sun is on its way up. Prune when there is no drying wind.
Water thoroughly or not at all. Use a canvas soaker or put the hose on a board so the surrounding ground will not be washed out.
Good drainage and the addition of sand will improve clay soils.
Try a summer planting of clover to improve clay soils.
An ash and mix with leaves to form an excellent leaf mold. Allow to decompose before using.
When cleaning furnace pipes or chimneys save the soot. Good to use around Roses and Lilies to deepen color and transparency.
Clean old flats thoroughly before using. Scrub and disinfect with a solution of liquid formaldehyde. Use one cupful to a gallon of water.
The easiest and most efficient way to water flats is by the wick method. Fray out one end of a wick and put it in the bottom of the flat. Put the other end of the wick in a pan or container of water at a level below the flat. Water will wick in and the flat will absorb the water as it needs it.
Sandy soil can be improved by adding manure and peat moss.
Good soil needs nitrogen, phosphorus, potash, and lime.
You can enrich soil by planting a cover crop of rye, buck wheat, soy beans, or vetch. After crop has grown, turn into soil so that it will decompose.
Barnyard manure is still the best of all fertilizer but it should be aged. Don't try to work it fresh. It's hard to do, and your wife won't let you back into the house.
Humus (from your compost pile) and peat moss dug into a clay soil will make it more open and spongy. It doesn't hurt to add a little sand and ashes, too.
Summer mulches keep soil damp and gardens free of weeds
A basement window hotbed is easy to build and easy for the gardener to service in all kinds of weather.
Set a rain barrel in a hidden corner of the garden to catch water for house plants or for prized garden plants.
If your garden space is tiny try a color scheme of all white flowers and green leaves and shrubbery to make it look larger. If you want a color accent try a few pots of Tulips and Geraniums.
Curving paths always make a garden look bigger. So will a pool set against a back wall. The pool does not have to be large.
Garden beds can be edged with gray cinder blocks or outlined with bricks for unusual effects.
All soil used in flats should be sterile. This can be accomplished by baking the soil in the oven, saturating it with boiling water, or dousing it with a commercial chemical guaranteed to kill disease and fungi.
As plants begin to appear in flats add a little fertilizer to the water. This should be put into the jar of water used to moisten the flats by the wick method.
When plants growing in a flat have produced two leaves they should be moved into a hot frame or into the permanent bed in the garden where they are to grow.
If seedlings in flats do not get enough water or enough fresh air their growth will be retarded.
When transplanting seedlings, examine the roots carefully. If roots are long and straight they must be put into ground that is deeply cultivated. If the roots are matted that particular plant will most likely flourish in moist soil.
Fruit trees can be raised in a small garden if they are trained to grow flat against a wall. Espaliered fruit trees have always been favored in European gardens and are to be found in many of the Colonial gardens of America.
When watering seedlings in the garden, use a fine sprinkler on your watering can.
Keep a tub of oily sand in your garden house or garage. After using garden tools wipe them free of dirt and plunge into the sand. Trowels, shears, sickles, and other tools will stay sharper and will keep from rusting.
When building a hotbed or cold frame make sure it is in a sheltered place away from north and northwest winds. It should have a southern or eastern exposure so that plants will get the greatest amount of heat and light. Also make sure the situation is well drained.
If the glass on a hotbed or cold frame becomes steamed or cloudy the bed must be aired or the plants will die. Open the covering on the frame just a little on cold days and wider, and for longer periods on warm days. Make sure the wind does not blow into the frame.
Be sure to break up all clods when spading. If you do not do this it will be very difficult to make a fine soil later.
When spading with a fork, hold the tool at a straight angle and push the fork all the way into the ground before turning the soil.
When applying fertilizer to plants keep it away from leaves and roots.
When using tablets of plant food, keep in mind that flower boxes and small garden plants can use one small tablet to each plant three times during the growing season.
Plant a row of sunflowers in the garden to attract desirable birds.
Every gardener should have one and preferably two compost piles. Remains of annuals, vegetables, fruit rinds, faded flowers, and egg shells can be used in the compost pile.
Dig a small pit; line with pieces of lawn sod. Fill the pit with layers of leaves, rubbish, and clippings. Cover with a layer of soil. Press down and moisten with water. Compost will form.
Compost piles can be made in a standing basket of wire. Use a circle of heavy wire four or five feet high. Layer garden debris and soil and water well.
Compost piles should be turned and spaded during the summer to hasten decomposition. It takes six months for fine materials to decompose and twelve months for coarser.
Commercial products can be bought and added to the compost pile to hasten decomposition or you can mix your own. 6 pounds of sulfate of ammonia, 2 1/2 pounds muriate of potash, 5 pounds of ground limestone, 3 pounds of super phosphate. Mix well and use at the rate of one pound of mixture to one bushel of leaves and rubbish.
Some gardeners prefer to screen compost through a half inch mesh screen before using.
If the compost pile takes on a disagreeable odor sprinkle a dusting of acid phosphate over the pile.
I would be amiss if I didn't strongly recommend the Longnecker® Trowel and Weeder -- even if these fine tools weren't invented when this book was published. You need to have these in your garden tool kit. They'll make your gardening so much easier and enjoyable.
The basic tools needed for good gardening include a pickaxe, cultivating fork, bamboo rake, hoe, long-handled, pointed spade; digging fork, steel rake, hand trowel, clipping shears, hand pruner, sprinkling can, and garden hose.
A measuring tape should be included in every garden kit.
When selecting a wheelbarrow for garden work bear in mind that metal barrows are heavier, harder to handle, and apt to rust. The old-fashioned wooden wheelbarrow has none of these drawbacks.
Dull tools make twice as much work for the gardener. Sharpen with an eight-inch mill file. Clean after using with oily sand and store properly. Tools will last for years if properly cared for.
Clean all tools after each use. Wipe dry to keep sharp and clean. During the Winter wipe sharp, cutting tools with a cloth that has been dipped in bacon grease or other fat to keep tools from rusting.
Do not let the garden hose kink while watering. Do riot run over the hose with any heavy vehicle and do not let it lay out in the hot summer sun.
Garden hose should always be loosely coiled for storage. In the Winter time make sure that all water has been emptied from it before storing.
House Plants
Easy-to-grow house plants include Chinese Evergreen, Aspidistra, Coleus, Dieffenbachia or Dumb Cane, Sansevieria or Mother-in-law Tongue, common Rubber Plant, Century Plant or Agave, Spider Plant, Wandering Jew, Grape Ivy, Corn Plant, Holly Fern. Pandanus or Screw-Pine, Touch-me-not, Thatch Palm, Philodendron cordatum, Baby's Tears, Apostle Plant, and Picka-back Plant.
Some unusual plants that are easy to grow include the Prayer Plant, Mexican Breadfruit or Swiss Cheese Plant, and the Fiddle-Leaf Fig.
Good window vines are Philodendron cordatum, Wandering Jew, Kangaroo Vine, Creeping Fig, and Ivies.
African Violet, Palms, Ferns, Chinese Evergreen, English Ivy, Philodendron, Rex Begonia, Dumb Cane, Grape Ivy, Corn Plant, and Wandering Jew will grow well in a north window.
Spider plant, Fuchsia, Watermelon Begonia, Primrose, and Flowering Maple will grow in a West window.
In a South window grow Coleus, Geranium, Century plant, Cacti and flowering annuals including Petunia, Marigold, and Lantana.
Ivy cuttings root quicker in water-filled glass containers. Light gets to the roots and hastens development.
Succulents, such as Jade Plant, Hen-and Chickens, Kalanchoe, Euphorbia, and Sedum should be treated in almost the same manner as Cacti. They need porous soil, lots of sunshine, and very little water while going through a resting period.
African Violets
No two people agree on all points concerning the propagation and raising of African Violets. Different plants present different problems and each grower eventually works out his own solution.
African Violets can be grown in any window. It must be well lighted, not shaded by trees, and the sun must not be too strong. In sunny windows the sun should be tempered with a glass curtain or plants should be set back where full sun does not reach them.
Artificial lighting can be used in African Violet culture. Plants can be grown in a basement where the temperature never goes below 60 degrees provided you have a fluorescent fixture. Use two 40 watt daylight bulbs. Place plants on high stand or step ladder two feet below light. Young plants can be placed at this height; older plants, lower. Light should be left on 14 hours, off 10 hours.
Best temperature for most plants is 70 to 72 degrees in the daytime; 60 to 65 degrees at night. 
If nights get very cold put thicknesses of newspaper between plants and the window or draw Venetian blinds.
 African Violets need fresh air but cannot stand sudden changes of temperature or draft. Open door in next room to plants and air-out well being sure there is no sharp wind or draft. Do at least once a day. 
Gas will kill African Violets. Make sure there are no leaks. [Editor's note: This is one of the "dated" items that I was talking about. Gas can kill you, too. If you smell gas, get out of the house and call the gas company!]
Always water plants with tepid water. A variation of ten degrees above or below room temperature will cause leaves to spot.
If water is hard or alkaline water plants once a month with a solution made of 1 tablespoon of vinegar to 1 gallon of water. 
If you have a water softener or water is full of chlorine or other chemicals, draw water the night before and let stand in open pan. Use the next morning for watering.
Some growers water their plants with distilled water. 
Rain water and melted snow are considered fine for watering but must contain no chemicals or soot. Use at room temperature. 
African Violets can be syringed to remove dirt and pests if carefully done. Use a rubber spray attached to faucets that mix hot and cold water. Be sure water is room temperature. Turn plant on side while spraying so crown will not get soaked. Let dry away from sun and drafts. 
A small camel's hair brush can be used to remove dust from leaves of the African Violet.
Heavy green foliage but no blossoms may mean the African Violet is not getting enough light. 
Sometimes plants can be "shocked" into blooming by placing in sun. 
Keep Violets turned so that all parts of plant will get same amount of light. Produces a well-formed plant. 
If leaves of African Violet turn yellow or scald it is getting too much sun. 
All African Violets need moisture in the air. Place potted plants in trays filled with pebbles and water. Pots should rest on stones above water level. 
If buds drop off it is because there is not enough moisture in the room. 
African Violets do well in a soil that is a mixture of one third loam, one-third leaf mold or peat moss, and one-third sand. 
African Violets can be watered from above or below. When watering from the top use a long-spouted watering can so water will not get on leaves or crown.
A tiny plastic funnel at the edge of the pot will facilitate watering and feeding. 
Fill large saucers with water and stand pot of African Violet in it. In an hour's time it should have absorbed enough water. 
African Violets grow better in clay pots rather than glazed, glass, or plastic containers. 
How much and how often to water can only be determined by the grower. Water when temperature is rising (mid-morning rather than late afternoon). If soil feels dry or if pot sounds hollow when thumped plant needs watering. 
Good soil mixtures for African Violets can be bought in sealed packages at many stores. 
African Violets can be grown in distilled water to which plant food has been added. Use a mixture of 1 quart distilled water to one-quarter teaspoon plant food. Put in opaque jar that will support top, leaving only roots in container. Drop in a few pieces of charcoal and fill container three-quarters full. As water evaporates, replenish. At end of month throw out solution; wash plant roots with fresh, clear water and put back in container with fresh solution. 
Give African Violets weekly feedings of liquid plant food. This should be administered from the top and watering should follow from the top. 
When you buy a new African Violet or receive one as a gift, keep it away from your own plants for about two months. This way you run no danger of spreading a disease that may not be apparent at the time. 
Don't buy "bargain" African Violets. They may be harboring a "pest" that will destroy other plants. 
When buying an African Violet examine the crown, leaves and flowers carefully. If they are twisted or malformed the plant is housing mites, one of the worst pests. 
When planting or transplanting all African Violets take great precautions to sterilize. Clay pots should be baked ten or fifteen minutes in water and soil used for potting should be baked in the oven for one hour at 180 degrees. 1)o not more or less but be sure the baking time is 60 minutes in length. 
Don't over-pot African Violets. They bloom better in small pots. 
Some advise putting African Violets in the garden during the summer, out of the wind and in a shady place. Others advise moving to the porch in a sheltered spot and giving less water. 
If you separate the crowns on an African Violet rub the cut or open place with sulfur before re-potting. 
Fill a glass with water. Over it put a piece of wax paper and hold in place with a rubber band. Make small holes just large enough to accommodate the stern of a leaf from the African Violet. Ends of stem should be in water. Several leaves can be started this way and will eventually produce new little plants. 
Small stones can be put into a saucer of water and leaves placed between the stones for support. Stem ends should be in water. Add a piece or two of charcoal to keep water sweet. 
March is a good time to propagate plants. Use only leaves with long stems. 
Leaves can be started or rooted in water, vermiculite, sand, or light soil. 
Use an all-purpose spray or dust on African Violets once a month to guard against pests. 
Mites, one of the African Violet's worst enemies can usually be seen only with the aid of a magnifying glass. Watch for them in the crown of the plant. 
Pink and white varieties of African Violets are the hardest to get to bloom. Viking and Mentor Boy are two varieties that bloom almost continuously. 
Some varieties that many beginning growers have handled with success include Blue Boy, Admiral, Commodore, Violet Beauty, Blue Warrior, and Pink Beauty.
Azaleas can be grown in the home if the temperature during November and December is between 40 and 50 degrees. Keep in a light area and water whenever the soil is dry.
Do not try to start growth in Azaleas in the house until late January or mid-February. Five weeks of 60 degree temperature will bring forth blossoms. Spray the foliage daily during this period.
When Azaleas have stopped blooming they should be repotted in an acid-soil mixture.
Begonias grow well in a porous soil made up of loam, leaf mold, bone meal, and charcoal.
Soil around Begonia plants should support the plant but not be pressed down as firmly as for other house plants.
Good drainage is very necessary in growing Begonias, otherwise the plants will become waterlogged and die.
Protect Begonias from full sun except during winter months and do not expose them to drafts or sudden changes in temperature for good growth.
Varieties of small cacti that can be grown successfully indoors include Bishop's Cap, Peanut, Hedgehog, Sea Urchin, Snowball, Chin, Pincushion, Strawberry, Cob and Prickly Pear. 
Varieties of large cacti for indoor growth include Rattail, Old Man, Cholla, Night Blooming Cereus, White Torch, Barrel, . Organ Pipe, and Paper-spined. 
During winter months keep cactus dry. Give only enough water to prevent shriveling. Sunny days are the best time for watering in winter. 
Never let stagnant water stand on the roots of cacti. 
Barrel cacti can be watered by standing pots in shallow saucers filled with water. Let plants absorb water for an hour then discard remaining water in saucer. The plant has had enough. 
Keep cacti in sunny window except during summer months. Too strong sun turns plants yellow. Light shade is desirable during summer. 
Contrary to popular belief many cacti do not grow in strong sun. Many grow in brushy areas where other plants offer partial shade. 
Cacti should be planted in porous soil. They like an alkaline soil. Add finely ground or crushed limestone, oyster shells, or egg shells. 
Good potting mixture for cacti is one-half loam, one-fourth humus or leaf-mold, one-fourth sand, small amount of ground limestone and charcoal. 
To keep red spider away from cacti syringe with water under pressure or dust with dry sulfur. 
Mealy bugs on cacti can be removed by spraying with an atomizer filled with wood alcohol. If there are only a few bugs touch them with a toothpick that has been dipped in wood alcohol. 
When potting cacti fill the container to one-third its depth with broken pieces of flower pot or very coarse gravel. 
Do not pour water directly on cacti, nor syringe it on a damp day or while the sun is on a plant. 
Fresh air is very important for successful growing of cacti. Be sure porous soil is used so that air can get to roots. 
Spray cacti in early morning with Luke-warm water for best results. 
During the winter cacti need water only about once a month. This is the resting period. Keep in a cool, dry, light and airy place. A temperature of 50 degrees is desirable. 
Christmas Cactus
If your Christmas cactus does not flower it may be in too large a pot. Over-potting produces foliage but no flowers. 
Christmas cactus can be put out-of-doors, in light shade, in late Spring. Water during dry periods. Bring into house before danger of frost and put in an east or west window or where it will not receive too bright sun for about a month. 
When flower buds begin to form on Christmas cactus keep on dry side. When flowers appear water moderately. 
If buds fall off of Christmas cactus it is probably due to too much or too little water or exposure to cold drafts.
Asparagus fern needs rich soil and lots of water while growing. It does best in a temperature a little above 50 degrees.
Old branches or ragged looking branches of Asparagus fern should be cut off so that new shoots will grow.
Ferns do best in windows where the light is not too bright. Give plenty of water and be sure pots drain well.
If fern fronds turn yellow it is because of too much light or lack of proper food. 
Don't mistake spore cases on fern leaves for insects. Fern scale a common pest can be easily identified. The male is slender and white, the female fat and of a brownish color.
It's a good idea to put plants in a sink or large container and fill with water right up to the rims of pots. This should be done once a week.
Grow Fuchsia in a shaded, cool window in a well-drained pot of leaf mold and coarse sand. Must be watered every day. Roots must be kept moist or leaves will drop. Top should also be sprayed with water.
A pinch of soot on the soil will cause Fuchsia to produce flowers of deeper color
Don't allow Fuchsias to become pot-bound. A large plant requires a ten-inch pot.
Fuchsia plants cannot stand sudden temperature changes. It causes buds to drop off.
Gardenias need acid soil, warmth, sunshine, and moist air. The foliage of gardenias should be sprayed every day.
If the temperature in the room falls below 60 degrees gardenia leaves will turn yellow and if temperature goes above 60 degrees, particularly at night, the flower buds will drop off.
Many gardenia plants seem to grow best in east windows. Keep moist at all times but do not let plant become waterlogged.
Geraniums that have blossomed in garden will not bloom inside during the Winter.
Geraniums should be grown in small pots and not given too much water. They bloom better when on the dry side.
Shower a Geranium daily but keep the earth barely wet. Dry plants out of sun and drafts.
Roots and Bulbs
Some unusual bulbs that can be grown indoors include the Peruvian Daffodil, Glory-of-the-Snow, Crown Imperial, Winter Aconite, Fairy Lily, and Snow-Drop.
Make an interesting dish garden with carrots, beets, and turnips. Remove any wilted leaves. Cut across each root leaving two or three inches at leafy end. Put in bowl containing layer of pebbles and piece of charcoal, cut end down. Fill half full of water. Do not let roots touch or they will rot. Put in light window; keep water at proper level; leaves will sprout in few days. 
Put a fresh sweet potato or yam in jar with small neck to support potato. Potato should be half in water and half out. Put in warm, dark place until roots grow out narrow end. Add water as needed. When roots are well formed put in sunny window. Support vines with strings. 
Cut the top off a large rutabaga or turnip. Hollow out inside carefully. Punch holes in the outside taking care to keep them small and not break the vegetable. Poke two or three bluegrass seeds into each hole. Hang in sunny window. Fill center with water. In ten days you will have a beautiful green ball. 
Bulbs can be grown indoors in soil of fiber. Before using fiber remove all lumps by rubbing between hands. Keep moist but not wet. Place charcoal in bottom of container; add fiber and plant bulbs. 
If bulbs planted for window gardens produce leaves immediately it is because they have been exposed to too high temperatures.
Bulbs planted in soil can be put in a sheltered garden corner. Cover with quarter-inch layer of sand, then six to ten inches of soil. After first hard freeze add another layer of hay or straw. In December or January move to cool room. Place in window week later. 
Shallow-rooted bulbs can be grown in regular flower pots but three-quarter pots or bulb pans are best. 
It pays to buy the best bulbs available.
Grow lily-of-the-valley indoors in fiber, sphagnum moss, or sand. Buy pips from florist or seed store, the ones from your garden will not produce. Plant about an inch apart, covering roots. Water well with lukewarm water. Put in dark place until flower stalks show. (About ten days.) Water two or three times a day with a little lukewarm water. Expose gradually to light. Keep in partially shaded window for best blooms. 
Grow Chinese Sacred Lily, Paper White Narcissus, and the yellow Narcissus, called Soleil d'Or in shallow containers of pebbles and water. 
You can hasten the growth of the Chinese Sacred Lily by removing the hard skin on top of the bulb before planting. 
When planting bulbs in water make sure you have enough pebbles to support the bulbs in an upright position.
Charcoal should always be placed in the bottom of the container in which bulbs are grown in water to keep it fresh. 
Pot bulbs as soon as you buy them. Do not allow them to dry out or become soft before potting or you will not have good results. 
September is a good time to plant many bulbs for indoor flowering.
Pot Easter lilies in September in loam or fiber. Put in cold frame, water, and place boards over frame. Or set in two inches of coal ashes and cover lightly with leaves. When roots are well formed and about an inch of growth shows bring indoors. Give plenty of light and water daily when buds show. 
Easter lilies need a light, well ventilated room whose temperature does not exceed 65 degrees. 
Turn your Easter lily daily so it will have a pleasing shape.
Plant ten or twelve Freesia bulbs in a six-inch bulb pan. Cover with an inch of soil well pressed down. Moisten the soil and put in cool, well-ventilated room. When foliage is inch high put in sunny window. Water well and keep temperature at 65 degrees. 
After blooming, Freesia pots should be put in sun for two weeks. Take bulbs out of pot, store in cool, dry place until September, when they can be repotted. 
The best time to buy Amaryllis bulbs is late December or very early in January.
Plant Amaryllis in pots only one inch larger than bulb. Let top half of bulb remain above soil. Average soil mixed with a small amount of bone meal will do. Water once and set in cool, shady place for a month. When growth shows move to sunny window. Water sparingly and give plant food once a week. 
Amaryllis blossoms will appear about three weeks after the bulb is taken from a dark, cool place and put in a window. 
If your Amaryllis produces only leaves and no blooms it is because it is planted in too big a container. 
After blooms are gone tend carefully_ for next year's Amaryllis blossoms. Water until leaves turn yellow then gradually lessen amount of water. Rest during winter in basement. Water sparingly. Set pot out in garden in May. Feed and water all summer. From September to November do not give any water. Add new soil when brought into house and it will be ready for another season. 
If properly taken care of Amaryllis bulbs will last for season after season. Add a little soil each fall but do not repot until roots break pot. 
Calla Lilies
Grow Calla lilies in a light window from August until late Spring. They grow best in soil mixed with a large portion of leaf mold. 
To produce fine Calla lilies see that the bulbs have plenty of water, fresh air, and a warm temperature, but never let water stand around the roots. 
When planting Callas make sure the crown is above soil level. Also make sure that the bulb is two years old or it will not bear blooms until it is that age. 
When Calla lilies show signs of blossoming feed weekly. 
When Calla lilies have finished blooming gradually stop watering. Turn pots on side and let dry out. In late summer shake soil from bulbs and repot for next season's bloom. 
If you plant Callas in August they will bloom in October. Put in sun immediately after planting. 
Put a dozen crocus in a six-inch bulb pan. Plant firmly with tips just showing. Keep in cool, well-aired, dark place for three months. Do not over-water but keep moist. Then put in semi-light until leaves are proper green. Full light for flowering. 
Crocus blooms are already set when you buy the bulb. Good blooms depend on coolness, darkness, and plenty of moisture. Easy to grow if these rules are followed. 
Grape hyacinths and Blue Scilla can be grown in pots in the same manner as Crocus. These beautiful little blue flowers add much to a window garden.
Plant Cyclamen bulb just into surface of good, light soil. Be sure pot has good drainage. Water carefully and regularly. This bulb needs a great deal of water but never let water stand on the foliage or crown.
Keep Cyclamen in light, cool place but never put it III strong sunlight. Keep well watered but do not allow water to stand around roots. 
The Cyclamen does best in a light, cool corner of the window. Shelter from direct sun with glass curtain or foliage of surrounding plants. 
Give Cyclamen plant food every two weeks for good growth and blooms. When leaves turn yellow the plant is in need of rest. 
A healthy Cyclamen will bloom for three months. When finished gradually stop watering. Put pot in cellar, watering just a little every three weeks. In spring plunge in garden in shaded, sheltered place where water will not drip on it. Repot in fall in a size larger pot. 
Repotted Cyclamens should be brought into the house the middle of September, watered, and fed (once a week). Blooms will appear again in about two months. 
Grow hyacinths in special hyacinth glasses. If bulb is covered entirely with water it will decay. A piece of charcoal in water will keep it fresh and clean. Put in dark, cool place until roots develop. Then move to room with 65 degree temperature. 
Dutch and French hyacinths grow best in water glasses but must have temperatures in the low sixties, otherwise the flower spikes will yellow and never produce a full bloom. 
Paper White Narcissus should. be planted in water and pebbles so that the bulbs almost touch each other. Keep in cool, dark place until roots are developed. 
Narcissus should not be grown in more than a 70 degree temperature to produce healthy growth and blooms. 
If the buds on Narcissus turn brown and wither in the casing it is because the air is too dry or the temperature too high. Sometimes the casing can be carefully snipped with a manicure scissors and the buds will blossom.
If you want white and. yellow Narcissus for Christmas flowering, plant bulbs about the middle of September. 
Grow tulips for the window garden in either soil or fiber. The early, single varieties are easiest to grow. Plant bulb with top about even with soil or fiber. Plant six bulbs in a six-inch pot. Put in dark, cool place to form roots. If there is danger of freezing cover with burlap, coarse sand, or coal ashes. Late December or January move to cool room for a week. Then place in window for quick growth. 
A temperature just below 40 degrees is ideal for setting root growth of tulips for indoor flowering. 
Water tulip bulbs well after potting and before setting them in a cool cellar or in a dark corner of a shed or garage. 
Tulip bulbs in pots can also be buried in a garden trench about 14 inches deep for root growth. Cover with light soil, four inches of peat moss, about the same of leaves, and hold in place with light boards or branches. Good roots form in about three months. 
Choose the right size pot for your plants. Too large a pot will produce foliage but no blooms. Over-potted plants do not have the energy to produce blossoms.
Press the soil down firmly around the roots of plants. This helps to hold the moisture and keep the plants from drying out.
Scrub the clay pots, in which house plants are growing, every few weeks to keep them porous and to allow air to get at the roots.
Spring is the best time to repot many window garden plants.
Soak clay pots for a couple of days before potting plants in them. The moisture held in the pots helps the plant to get started.
A good mixture to use for general potting is two parts of black soil, one part of coarse sand, one part of compost or leaf mold, some peat moss, and small amounts of powdered charcoal and tobacco dust. Mix well with hands and put through a screen or sieve before using.
Arrange your window box so that viny plants grow to the front of the box and upright plants in the center.
Choose house plants suitable for your windows. All plants need light, but some require more sun than others.
Almost all flowering plants need plenty of sun, while foliage plants need plenty of light -- but not so much sun.
Both flowering and foliage plants require fresh air. For best results, keep plants in a well ventilated room.
Put your window box on a stand with rollers. Then it can be turned around so that all plants will get their share of light and sun.
Artificial light will help house plants grow during the winter months. Turn a bridge lamp on your window garden or place your plants under a lamp for a few hours. Use a 100 watt bulb.
House plants do better in a large window because there is greater circulation of air and a greater abundance of light.
Don't water plants by pouring water on top of the pot. Eventually, all the life-giving properties will drain out through the bottom of the pot.
Don't let your pots stand in water, even a small amount, for any considerable length of time. Roots at the bottom of the pot will decay.
Different plants require different amounts of water. Be on the safe side and, as a general rule, water plants when the top soil appears dry.
When watering house plants, use water that is the same as room temperature.
During bright, sunshiney weather, water your plants every day; during dark or wet days, water every other day.
Use a bulb syringe or atomizer and spray the leaves of your plants. Daily syringing with room-temperature water will rid plants of dust and pests.
Rain water or melted snow are fine for house plants because they contain no chemicals. Keep an old pickle jar or tea kettle for storage purposes. Use water at room temperature.
A watering can with a long spout is the easiest container to use for watering window plants and hanging baskets
If leaves turn yellow on your house plants pick them off, syringe well and give plant more sun and fresh air. If leaves wither and dry, plants need more water.
Wash plant leaves at least once a week so plants can breathe and grow.
Never put oil of any kind on leaves of house plants even if it makes them look glossy. Oil will clog the pores and plants will not be able to breathe.
During cold weather protect your plants at night by placing a newspaper or sheet of cellophane against the window. This would only be necessary in cases of extreme cold.
A good syringing with water or a dip in soapy water will rid plants of aphids.
If you can persuade a couple of lady bugs to live in your window garden they will keep your plants free of insects and other pests.
Two ounces of soap flakes in a gallon of water can be used for washing or dipping plants harboring pests.

Garden information, hints, and tips

Maintenance of annuals and perennials primarily comprises weeding, pinching beginning blooms, deadheading, supporting tall flowers, feeding, and watering.

The weeding certainly improves the garden's appearance, but it also removes competition for space, light, food, and water.  What better tool is there for weeding than the Longnecker® Weeder.

Pinching beginning blooms encourages bigger flowers and keep them more compact instead of sparse looking while deadheading keeps blooms forming and stops the seeding process.

Supporting the taller flowers not only improves the appearance of your garden, it also decreases unnecessary competition for lower plants' space and light.  It also slows the seeding process.

Feeding produces new growth and, of course you need to water as necessary. Container gardens need to be watered and fertilized more often to because potting soils tend to dry out quicker.

The types of gardens that you can have are limited only by your imagination.  Some that you may consider include: fragrance, butterfly (see "How to Make a Butterfly Garden" below), hummingbird, container, cacti, window, kitchen, formal, wildflower, rock, bog, seasonal, cottage, and patio.

Perennials are categorized as non woody stemmed plants, which grow and produce flowers for three years or more. There are several groups of these plant types. Some die down to the ground and reappear at the start of the next growing season. Others become low foliage during non-flowering season and others are the evergreens.

Annuals are flowers that are sown, grow, flower, set seed and die in one season. Depending upon climate some annuals may become perennials and are then considered as such. Growing from seed or buying transplants depends upon the germination time of the seed. Annuals range in height and size from the ground-hugging alyssum to sunflowers that may get over six feet high.  Annuals also include mosses and colorful leafed plants such as coleus.

Annuals for full sun gardens require at least six hours of direct sunlight a day. Too much shade may make them bloom less, become leggy and may make them subject to mildew.  Some favorites include cosmos, sunflowers, marigolds, calendula, snapdragons, hollyhocks, brassicas, cleome, coreopsis, dianthus. dahlia, and salvia just to name a few.

Annuals for shady gardens include filtered sun and partial full shading either morning or evening. Some of the annuals for these situations include begonias, canterbury bells, cleus, larkspur, impatiens, alyssum, forget-me-nots, primroses and negella.

Annuals for hot, dry areas receive irregular watering and intense heat. Some include amaranthus, atctotis, centaurea, convolvulus, coreopsis, California poppy, rudbeckia, tithonia and verbena.

Soil preparation includes removing weeds, debris, etc., amending soil (what better tool is there for amending the soil than the Longnecker® Trowel) and adding fertilizer for the development of healthy plants from the start. Read sowing directions as some seed are sown deeper than others and some are broadcast.  Water evenly and consistently for best results.

Fertilization: Most fertilizers contain nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). The numbers describing the fertilizer indicate the proportion of each nutrient. A label reading 10-5-5 contains one half the nitrogen as compared to 20-5-5 and may well be less costly. Site preparation should include all three ingredients, but especially potassium and phosphorus as they are needed in healthy plant development.

Dry fertilizers are great for preparing soil prior to planting.
Liquids are easy especially for container gardening. Read the labels because some are complete (containing N, P, and K) but some single nutrient such as fish emulsion dissolved in water.
Time released fertilizers shouldn’t be used in the seeding stage because they tend to slow the beginning growth. But they are easily added later with the advantage that they will not burn the flowers as some dry fertilizers do. They may seem higher in cost in the beginning but last longer between applications.

How to Make A Butterfly Garden

No matter where you live, it is possible to have a garden that both you and your butterfly guests will enjoy. Regional conditions of climate, geology, and architectural heritage exert varying degrees of influence on just what style of garden you design.

Ample sunshine is the foremost consideration. Butterflies avoid shady areas. Ideally, your garden should have a southern exposure. Butterflies use early morning sunlight for basking on sun-warmed rocks, bricks or gravel paths. As morning temperatures rise, they begin visiting their favorite nectar flowers, but always in sunlit areas of the garden.

They prefer gardens that are sheltered from prevailing winds. If yours is not, consider planting a windscreen of lilac, mock orange, butterfly bush or viburnum - all shrubs whose flowers are rich in nectar.

A butterfly garden's style is not as important as its content. It should offer nectar flowers throughout the growing season. Luckily, many of our most loved annuals and perennials are top-notch nectar sources.

Butterflies seem especially attracted to gardens boasting generous patches of a given nectar flower. If you plant red valerian, don't settle for one or two specimens. Try growing three or four patches of this especially popular nectar flower, and watch the swallowtails drift from clump to clump.

You may want to start from scratch and populate an entire garden solely with nectar plants, however, remember that a given flower that attracts butterflies in one area may not necessarily prove a favorite with differing species of butterflies in an other. Experiment and learn which flowers your local butterflies prefer.

Guidelines for Butterfly Gardening

Watch butterflies in nearby areas to see which flowers they prefer
Grow these plants and ones recommended above
Position plants in a sunny place, sheltered from wind
Grow large clumps of the most favored species
Try to maintain diversity in height, color and blooming periods
Avoid or limit your use of pesticides
Provide a mud puddle in a sunny spot
Grow larval plants for butterflies that appear in your garden
Try some plants in containers for increased flexibility
Leave some undisturbed corners for weedy larval and nectar plants  




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Last modified: June 13, 2005