Plants intended for next winter's use should receive much of their training now, while they are in a period of active development. Pinch them back to make them bushy, and compact, and symmetrical. Encourage growth but not the production of flowers. Never lose sight of the fact that plants allowed to bloom during the summer can not be expected to give flowers in winter; therefore aim to give such treatment as seems calculated to hold their flowering energies in reserve for the time when bloom will be more appreciated. Make it a rule to pick off every bud, as soon as discovered, thus concentrating all the energies of the plant in the development of branches rather than of flowers. It will be understood that this advice applies only to plants intended for use in the house next winter-not to plants of summer-flowering habit, like the Fuchsia, the Gloxinia, and the Tuberous Begonia. These should be allowed to bloom freely at this period, as they can not be made over into winter-bloomers by giving them the treatment advised above.
Repotting, if necessary, can be done at intervals during the summer. I strongly advise attention to this phase of gardening early in the season, that the plants may have ample time in which to reestablish themselves before cold weather comes on. In the chapter on Fertilizers I have had something to say about the inadvisability of using as large pots as we have heretofore thought necessary to the satisfactory development of a plant. If it is the intention of the owner of a collection to make use of fertilizers during the coming season, do not put your plants into pots more than one size larger than they have been growing in, if you repot them. Depend upon the nutriment supplied by whatever plant-food you make use of, rather than upon a large quantity of fresh soil. We frequently injure plants by over-potting them.
Plants grown solely for their foliage, like the Fieus, the Rose Geranium, the Palm, and others of that class, should be encouraged to make reasonably vigorous growth now. Keep constant watch of them, and be prompt to correct any tendencies to erratic growth. Prune with a view to symmetry, and choose for each plant such form as seems most in harmony with its natural habit.
Care must be taken to see that insects do not injure your plants in summer. The aphis will come, but a prompt and thorough application of Nicotocide will rout him. The red spider will attempt to establish himself on them, but daily showerings will discourage him.
Water must be supplied freely to plants in pots, as evaporation will take place very rapidly at this season. A little neglect as regards watering regularly, and in sufficient quantities to supply the needs of the thirsty plants, may prove the beginning of considerable trouble, as most plants do not recover readily from the effect of drouth at the root.
If allowed to become very dry during hot weather, their delicate feeding-roots will quite likely be ruined, and not until others have been formed will the plant resume development. Guard against a happening of this kind by watering your plants twice a day, if necessary.
Never allow their pots to be exposed to hot sunshine. They will become so heated, on the side toward the sun, that the tender roots within, that come in contact with that side, will be literally scorched. Shade the pots by setting up a board against them, or fill in about them with grass-clippings from the lawn.
If your plants are kept on the veranda, do not fail to shower them at least once a day, preferably after sundown. Use water liberally. Many kinds seem to take as much delight in having it applied to their foliage as to their roots. This is especially the case with the Fuchsia.
If you have plants of slender habit, do not neglect to furnish them with support of some kind while they are growing. Begin to tie them up while they are small, and keep them securely tied during all the after stages of their development. It is an easy matter to spoil a delicate young plant if no support is furnished it.
Those who would reduce the care of plants to a minimum during summer, yet who are averse to turning them out of their pots, practise what is called the "plunging" system. This means that the plant, in its pot, is sunk into the ground until the pot is even with the surface of the soil. Of course the labor and risk of repotting in fall is avoided by this method, but unless constant care is taken to prevent the soil inside the pot from getting dry there is great danger of disastrous results. Because the soil outside the pot appears moist it is an easy matter to deceive ourselves into the belief that the soil inside of it must be in a similar condition. We forget, or overlook, the fact that the pot, though porous to a considerable extent, does not admit moisture in sufficient quantity to make the soil in it as moist as it ought to be, and we neglect to apply water until the plant shows, by wilting, that it is suffering severely. Then we drench it, thus going to the other extreme, and alternating periods of too little water and too much are always harmful. Aim to secure the "happy medium" that makes, and keeps, the soil moderately and evenly moist.
Plants in pots sunk in the ground ought to be examined daily to make sure they are getting all the moisture iliey need at their roots. Keep this in mind.
I have never been able to see that sinking or plunging plants saved much trouble, if they are given the amount of attention necessary to keep them in good condition; therefore I have no hesitancy in advising keeping one's plants in pots over summer, but keeping them out of the ground, on veranda or under shed. If this is done, we are pretty sure to give them a proper amount of attention, because we know their welfare depends on it.
If plants are plunged, a layer of coal ashes should be put under them to keep out worms.
Do not be in too great hurry, in spring, to get your plants out of doors. Some persons put theirs out in April, and lose them in one of the frosty nights we are quite likely to have, at the north, until the middle of May. Better wait until you are sure the weather has become warm and settled before you turn your pots out of doors. Keep in mind the fact that they are not strong like outdoor plants, and therefore are in no condition to withstand the effect of cold, raw, chilly weather.