Hardy Shrubs for Forcing

by Wm. Falconer


SHRUBS for forcing should consist of early blooming kinds only. The plants should be stocky, young and healthy, well-budded and well-ripened, and in order to have first-class stock they should be grown expressly for forcing. For cut flower purposes only, we can lift large plants of Lilacs, Snowballs, Deutzias, Mock oranges and the like with all the ball of roots we can get to them and plant at once in forcing-houses. But this should not be done before New Year’s. We should prepare for smaller plants some months ahead of forcing time. say in the preceding April or August, by lifting them and planting in small pots, tubs or boxes as can conveniently contain their roots, and we should encourage them to root well before winter sets in. Keep them out of doors and plunged till after the leaves drop off; then either mulch them where they are or bring them into a pit, shed or cool cellar, where there shall be no fear of their getting dry, or of having the roots fastened in by frost. Introduce them into the green-house in succession; into a cool green-house at first for a few weeks, then as they begin to start, into a warmer one. From the time they are brought into the green-house till the flowers begin to open give a sprinkling overhead twice a day with tepid water. When they have done blooming, if worth keeping over for another time, remove them to a cool house and thus gradually harden them off, then plant them out in the garden in May, and give them two years’ rest.

Shrubs to be forced for their cut flowers only should consist of such kinds as have flowers that look well and keep well after being cut. Among these are Deutzia gracilis, common Lilacs of various colors, Staphyllea Colchica, Spiræa Cantonensis (Reevesii) single and double, the Guelder Rose, the Japanese Snowball and Azalea mollis. To these may be added some of the lovely double-flowering and Chinese apples, whose snowy or crimson-tinted buds and leafy twigs are very pretty. The several double-flowered forms of Prunus triloba are also desirable, but a healthy stock is hard to get. Andromeda floribunda and A. Japonica set their flower buds the previous summer for the next year’s flowers, and are, therefore, like the Laurestinus, easily forced into bloom after New Year’s. Hardy and half-hardy Rhododendrons with very little forcing may be had in bloom from March.

In addition to the above, for conservatory decoration we may introduce all manner of hardy shrubs. Double flowering peach and cherry trees are easily forced and showy while they last. Clumps of Pyrus arbutifolia can easily be had in bloom in March, when their abundance of deep green leaves is an additional charm to their profusion of hawthorn-like flowers. The Chinese Xanthoceras is extremely copious and showy, but of brief duration and ill-fitted for cutting. Bushes of yellow Broom and double-flowering golden Furze can easily be had after January. Jasminum nudiflorum may be had in bloom from November till April, and Forsythia from January. They look well when trained up to pillars. The early-flowering Clematises may be used to capital advantage in the same way, from February onward. Although the Mahonias flower well, their foliage at blooming time is not always comely. Out-of-doors the American Red-bud makes a handsomer tree than does the Japanese one; but the latter is preferable for green-house work, as the flowers are bright and the smallest plants bloom. The Chinese Wistaria blooms as well in the  green-house as it does outside; indeed, if we introduce some branches of an out-door plant into the green-house, we can have it in bloom two months ahead of the balance of the vine still left out-of-doors. Hereabout we grow Wistarias as standards, and they bloom magnificently. What a sight a big standard wistaria in the green-house in February would be! Among other shrubs may be mentioned Shadbush, African Tamarix, Daphne of sorts and Exochorda. We have also a good many barely hardy plants that may be wintered well in a cellar or cold pit, and forced into bloom in early spring. Among these are Japanese Privet, Pittosporum, Raphiolepis, Hydrangeas and the like.

And for conservatory decoration we can also use with excellent advantage some of our fine-leaved shrubs, for instance our lovely Japanese Maples and variegated Box Elder.

Wm. Falconer

Glen Cove, N. Y.