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Agapanthus planting and growing


Agapanthus, or African lily (Agapanthus umbellatus and several varieties).--A tuberous-rooted, well-known conservatory or window plant, blooming in summer. Excellent for porch and yard decoration. It lends itself to many conditions and proves satisfactory a large part of the year, the leaves forming a green arch over the pot, covering it entirely in a well-grown specimen. The flowers are borne in a large cluster on stems growing 2-3 ft. high, as many as two or three hundred bright blue flowers often forming on a single plant. A large, well-grown plant throws up a number of flower-stalks through the early season.

The one essential to free growth is an abundance of water and an occasional application of manure water. Propagation is effected by division of the offsets, which may be broken from the main plant in early spring. After flowering, gradually lessen the quantity of water until they are placed in winter quarters, which should be a position free from frost and moderately dry. The agapanthus, being a heavy feeder, should be grown in strong loam to which is added well-rotted manure and a little sand. When dormant, the roots will withstand a little frost.

Alstremeria. - The alstremerias (of several species) belong to the amaryllis family, being tuberous-rooted plants, having leafy stems terminating in a cluster of ten to fifty small lily-shaped flowers of rich colors in summer.

Most of the alstremerias should be given pot culture, as they are easily grown and are not hardy in the open in the North. The culture is nearly that of the amaryllis, - a good, fibrous loam with a little sand, potting the tubers in early spring or late fall. Start the plants slowly, giving only enough water to cause root growth; but after growth has become established, a quantity of water may be given. After flowering they may be treated as are amaryllis or agapanthus. The roots may be divided, and the old and weak parts shaken out. The plants grow 1-3 ft. high. The flowers often have odd colors.

Amaryllis. - The popular name of a variety of house or conservatory tender bulbs, but properly applied only to the Belladonna lily. Most of them are hippeastrums, but the culture of all is similar. They are satisfactory house plants for spring and summer bloom. One difficulty with their culture is the habit of the flower-stalk starting into growth before the leaves grow. This is caused in most cases by stimulating root growth before the bulb has had sufficient rest.

The bulbs should be dormant four or five months in a dry place with a temperature of about 50 degrees. When wanted to be brought into flower, the bulbs, if to be repotted, should have all the dirt shaken off and potted in soil composed of fibrous loam and leafmold, to which should be added a little sand.
If the loam is heavy, place the pot in a warm situation; a spent hotbed is a good place. Water as needed, and as the flowers develop liquid manure may be given. If large clumps are well established in 8-or 10-inch pots, they may be top-dressed with new soil containing rotted manure, and as growth increases liquid manure may be given twice a week until the flowers open. After flowering, gradually withhold water until the leaves die, or plunge the pots in the open, in a sunny place. The most popular species for window-gardens is A. Johnsoni (properly a hippeastrum), with red flowers. Figs. 257, 261.

Bulbs received from dealers should be placed in pots not much broader than the bulb, and the neck of the bulb should not be covered. Keep rather dry until active growth begins. The ripened bulbs, in fall, may be stored as potatoes, and then brought out in spring as rapidly as any of them show signs of growth.

Anemone. - The wind-flowers are hardy perennials, of easy culture, one group (the Anemone coronaria, fulgens, and hortensis forms) being treated as bulbs. These tuberous-rooted plants should be planted late in September or early in October, in a well-enriched sheltered border, setting the tubers 3 in. deep and 4-6 in. apart. The surface of the border should be mulched with leaves or strawy manure through the severe winter weather, uncovering the soil in March.

The flowers will appear in April or May, and in June or July the tubers should be taken up and placed in dry sand until the following fall. These plants are not as well known as they should be. The range of color is very wide. The flowers are often 2 in. across, and are lasting. The tubers may be planted in pots, bringing them into the conservatory or house at intervals through the winter, where they make an excellent showing when in bloom.

The Japanese anemone is a wholly different plant from the above. There are white-flowered and red-flowered varieties. The best known is A. Japonica var. alba, or Honorine Jobert. This species blooms from August to November, and is at that season the finest of border plants. The pure white flowers, with lemon-colored stamens, are held well up on stalks 2-3 ft. high.

The flower-stems are long and excellent for cutting. This species may be propagated by division of the plants or by seed. The former method should be employed in the spring; the latter, as soon as the seeds are ripe in the fall. Sow the seed in boxes in a warm, sheltered situation in the border or under glass. The seed should be covered lightly with soil containing a quantity of sand and not allowed to become dry. A well-enriched, sheltered position in a border should be given.

The little wild wind-flowers are easily colonized in a hardy border.