MANY persons who grow house-plants are under the impression that they must be turned out of doors during the summer. Some turn them out of their pots and plant them in open ground. Others put them almost anywhere, so long as it is out of doors, sometimes to their benefit but more often to their detriment, while others are content to leave them on the veranda or in some other semi-sheltered place. Some take just as good care of them during the summer as at any other time, while many neglect them shamefully, and have, as a natural result of their inexcusable negligence, only a lot of inferior plants to remove to the house when cold weather comes.
The fact is, all house-plants need care and attention the year round. The amount of labor may not be as much at one season as another, but such attention as is necessary to keep them in good condition must be given whenever it is needed, and there is no time when it is safe to let a plant look out for itself entirely, unless that plant is growing in the garden-bed. Even then it should be well watched to prevent it from wasting much of its energies on growth that will have to be sacrificed later. The wise gardener never relaxes her vigilance in caring for her plants. If no attention is needed, well and good, but she will always be on the lookout for it, and be sure she will be ready to minister to whatever need makes itself apparent. Plants are often unruly, when given an opportunity to do as they please by putting them into the open ground and leaving them to care for themselves, and it requires constant watchfulness to prevent them from doing things they ought not to do.
I never advise turning plants out of their pots, and planting them in the garden, or of plunging the plant in its pot, unless one expects to be away from home for a time, and feels doubtful about the care they would receive if left in charge of others. In such a case it may be safer to put the plant into the ground than to leave it in its pot on the veranda and trust it to the tender mercies of a servant or the men-folk.
A plant put into the ground will nearly always make a vigorous growth, and were the summer the only season to be considered there would be no question about the value of this method of treating one's plants during the period between June and October. But the fact must be reckoned with that before cold weather comes our plants must be lifted and potted, and this cannot be done without giving them a severe check, no matter how carefully we do the work. For many of their strongest roots must be cut off in our efforts to get them into pots of a convenient size. These roots it is utterly impossible for us to save, as they will extend far beyond the limit of any ordinary pot. As the lifting and potting process is generally gone through with just before the coming of frost, it will be readily understood by any one who gives the matter a little thought that the check given the plant could not come at a more unfortunate time. The removal of the plant to the house, which must follow a little later, will, in itself prove a trying ordeal for it, since indoor conditions differ so greatly from outdoor ones. Because it is already suffering from injuries inflicted in taking it from the ground it will be in poor condition to stand the strain that faces it. If it could be potted early in the season, and allowed to become well established before removal to the house, its chances would be much better. But while the weather is pleasant and winter seems a long way off, not one amateur in a hundred will be likely to think of lifting her plants. It will therefore be readily apparent to anyone that nothing is gained, in the long run, by turning a plant out of its pot for the summer. But, on the contrary, much is lost, since it must go into winter quarters in a greatly enfeebled condition, and it may be months before it regains sufficient vitality to do satisfactory work. Quite frequently a plant will not get over the drawbacks incident to the fall season before winter is ended, and such a plant is always most unsatisfactory, for we want flowers in winter-not spring. But for this failure to do itself justice the plant should not be held responsible. It suffers from its owner's lack of judgment.
I leave all plants intended for use in the house next winter in their pots in summer. In fact, my house-plants remain in their pots the year round. They are always under control. They can be so treated that they will bloom or rest. They do not make such rampant growth as they would if planted in the garden, but I am never in dread of the fall, as their roots are not to be disturbed, and by proper treatment they can be brought to the critical period of removal to the house in strong and healthy condition. Though the change from out- to indoors will naturally affect them to a considerable extent, they will speedily recover from it and be ready for active work by the beginning of the New Year.
A veranda that will shelter them from too great heat and from winds is a good place for house-plants during summer. But a much better place is a shed constructed expressly for them. Such a shed is easily made by setting four posts in the ground to support a roof of lath or narrow strips of wood, placed about an inch apart. This will allow them to get all the sunshine they need, and this without any danger of scorching, as the shifting ii6 shade afforded by the strips will prevent the concentration of heat. Such a shelter is as airy as any location in the garden-beds, there being no enclosure of sides or ends, and under it plants will nourish admirably, while those outside frequently suffer from excessive and untempered heat. If there are any boys in the family they will no doubt take pleasure in exhibiting their mechanical ability in the construction of a plant-shed for you. Tables can be provided for the plants to stand on, or the pots can be set on the ground. In the latter case, put two or three inches of coal ashes under each pot to prevent worms from entering through the drainage hole.