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Mignonette., Otago Witness, Issue 1910, 18 September 1890
This well known fragrant little plant is one of the moat popular subjects in gardens of every description. Even persons limited to the space of a window sill may grow some in summer, either in a box or in pots, provided the situation is not too hot. Mignonotto does not sueoeed so well when exposed to heat as it does if kept comparatively cool, the tendency tinder the former conditions being to produce seeds, and this renders the flowering period a short one. It is most largely cultivated from seed, but healthy cuttings may be readily rooted if it is desired to perpetuate any specially good form or variety. Outdoor culture in summer is of the simplest description. Seedß should be sown thinly in shallow drills, or in any other way desired, and be lightly covered with fine soil. When the young plants appear and are largo enough to handle they Bhould be thinned out, aa this induces a much stronger growth in those left. A later sowing should be made for producing an autumn supply. Mignonette prefers a rich, rather heavy soil, and a cool, moißt situation. _If sown in poor, light ground, and in a position exposed to hot sunshine, the seeds possibly will not grow at all, or if they do the plants will be far inferior to those which can ba treated more in accordance with their requirements. Watering must be frequently practised throughout the summer, especially if the weather be more than usually dry, The flowers of mignonette are amongst the most useful for cutting, as the racemes last so long in water, and emit an agreeable perfume. Culture in Pots.— Mignonette is most extensively cultivated in pots in England for winter and spring decoration of greenhouses, sitting rooms, &c, its requirements being more fully met, as previously stated, by the cooler temperature then experienced. Tall standard plants are preferred by some cu'tivators, and seeds for their production aro sown in small pots Boon after midsummer, or sometimes long previous to this. The best plaDt in each pot is selected and grown on in an upright direction, the other smaller ones being removed at an early stage. Repotting may be practised aa growth proceeds, until Bin or 9in pots are reached, if very larpre plants are desired. Careful training and watering are most necessary, as the shoots are very brittle, and although the roots generally require plenty of water, anything approaching stagnancy is fatal. Mignonette io far morq ußpful, nt}<\ i« <-xt-n-eively cultivated for epripg fluwofing m fun or
6in pots. Seeds for the supply should be sown in the beginning of autumn, using the" pots wherein they are intended to grow and flower. The compoßt ÜBed Bhould consist of about two parts loam, one of dried cow manure, and another of old sifted mortar rubbish. The latter ingredient is a most important one for this plant, and the addition of a little soot is also beneficial. All the pots used should be clean, dry, and properly drained, It does not matter how hard the compost is packed into them, provided it is united in a solid mass, and not rammed in layers. A few seeds should be distributed evenly over the surface, and lightly covered with a little sifted soil, similar to that of the bulk. The pota Bhould then be watered, and placed in a shallow, cold frame, on a bottom of coal ashes, where they may remain until the end of autumn, plenty of air being admitted in the meantime, and the plants thinned to about lin apart, when they are large enough to select the host. For winter quarters, the best place is a shelf near the glass in any light, airy house in whioh a temperature of 50deg to 55deg, with ventilation, is maid* tamed. Failing such provision for mignotette in houses, it is better to make the best of frames than to subject tbe plants to a high temperature or close atmosphere, both most deßtruoti\e to their well-being and the prime causes of failure. Each plant must be provided with a small stick before it gets large enough to fall about, and from five to eight will be plenty for lha size of the pots above mentioned. Water should only be sparely applied in winter, but never entirely withheld. As the days lengthen, the plants will star* into growth freely, and tbon water may be given in abundance, even to the use of saucera in spring. When the flowers begin to expand, a little artificial manure, mixed with its bulk of dry loam, should be applied to the soil's surface about once a week. This will materially assist in developing and lengthening tbe racemes.
Seed Saving. — When mignonette is only required for outside cultivation or for cutting, it is not of so nmch importance whethor'.the variety or strain represents its true characters or not, provided tho plants arc floriferoua and the flowers sweetly econted. For pot culturd it is most desirable that they should be of a vigorous yet compact habit, and of a unifoim strength throughout. If Beveral varieties are grown near each other, the flowers will be almost certain to become cross fertilised by insect agency, and the product will always degenerate rather than improve. Distinct and superior forms often owe their origin to a rigid selection being annually made of the very best plants for seed bearing and the weeding out before the flowering period of all showing the least inferiority. Seedsmen, doubtless, do all in their power to retail soeds true to character ; but whenever pot culture of mignonette is practised, and a good type ia once obtained, the cultivator Bhould cr.refully weed out from the first plants of irregular growth, and save eeed himself from tho others, sufficient; at least for growing in pots the following year. The standard of quality would be much improved even in one season by such a selection, and tar lens weeding would be required afterwards. The seed must be collected so soon as it begins turning brown, and laid out on paper in a cool, airy room or ehed to dry, when it may be rubbed out, cleaned, and stored in paper b»gs. If allowed to get quite ripe before being collected, the best seeda will be lust in consequence of the seed vessels being always open at tbe apex, and naturally situated at an angle well suited for readily discharging their contents. Varieties.— Of theje there are Eeveral in cultivation, some having what are termed red and others white flowers. The old common type of mignonette is well known, and is one of the most sweetly scented. The following is a selection from tbe best varieties. There is a double-flowered form which must be propagated from cuttings : — Crimson King.— Flowers bright red, Bweetly scented ; habit dwarf, vigorous, pyramidal. A new ana distinct variety, moat desirable for pot oulture. Golden Queen.— Flowers golden yellow (very distinct) ; habit dwarf and compact. An exceedingly fine mignonette of dense growth ; very floriferous. Miles Hybrid Spiral.— Flowers white, ver fragrant; produced in dense racemes, sometimes exceeding lft in length. The habit ia dwarf and branching, and the variety when obtained true, is one of the best in cultivation, especially for pots. Giant Pyramidal— Flowers reddish, sweetly scented ; racemes very large. The plant is of a Ptout pyramidal habit and succeeds well outside. — Queon Viotoria.— Flowers deep red, very fragrant; profuse; habit dwarf, branching. Fine and distinct. There are a few others, such as Parson a white, Machet, dwarf erect, and Garaway'a white, of excellent qualities, well worthy of cultivation.
Mignonette., Otago Witness, Issue 1910, 18 September 1890
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