Growing Border Carnations

Growing Border Carnations

Types. For exhibition purposes Border Carnations are classified as selfs (flowers of one colour only); white-ground fancies (flowers with coloured markings on a white base); yellow-ground fancies (similar but with a yellow base); fancies, with markings on a base other than white or yellow; and picotees, flowers of one main colour with a narrow band of a conttrasting colour round the margin of each petal. Cloves are distinguished by their rich clove fragrance.

Soil and Situation. Border Carnations like a fairly rich, rather limy or chalky, well-drained soil is most suitable. Digging should be thorough; only small quantities of animal manure or compost should be employed, but bonemeal or basic slag and hoof and horn meal may be used. If lime is deficient, ground chalk or limestone should be forked in at 1 lb. per square yard. Situation should be open and sunny.

Planting. Can be done in September, October, or March. For autumn planting, rooted layers can be lifted direct from the ground; for spring planting, potted layers wintered in a frame are best. Just cover topmost roots with soil and make very firm. Plant a foot apart each way, but rather more space will be needed for exhibition plants.

Cultural Routine. Keep beds regularly hoed throughout the spring and summer; top dress with carnation fertilizer in April. Tie flower stems to bamboo canes, making uppermost tie 4 or 5 in. below flower bud so that this arches over in a natural manner and does not collect rain as it opens. Remove from half to two-thirds the number of side flower buds that form below the terminal (tip) bud. Usually plants are not worth keeping after their second year and should be replaced by young rooted layers. Syringe occasionally during the summer with a good systemic insecticide to keep down greenfly.

Propagation of Border Carnations. By layering in July. Layers are prepared from young, non-flowering growths. An upward-sloping incision is made through a joint at a point 2 or 3 in. from the base where the shoot can be bent readily to soil level. The incision is then opened and the stem pressed into the soil. It is fixed in position with a wire or wooden pin and more soil is heaped over it. The extremity of the shoot is tied to a small stake. A number of layers may be pegged down round each parent plant. If kept moist, roots will be formed in a few weeks. Layers can be severed from the parent in September and planted a week or so later.

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