J. C. (John Claudius) Loudon.

The different modes of cultivating the pine-apple, from its first introduction into Europe to the late improvements of T. A. Knight, esq online

. (page 5 of 12)
Online LibraryJ. C. (John Claudius) LoudonThe different modes of cultivating the pine-apple, from its first introduction into Europe to the late improvements of T. A. Knight, esq → online text (page 5 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

observed, that the dung should be collected from
the pastures when newly fallen ; also, that a larger
proportion should be added, making an allowance
for the want of urine.

1. Three wheelbarrows of the above reduced
sward or soil ; one barrow of vegetable mould
from decayed oak-leaves, or leaves of other deci-
duous trees, and half a barrow of coarse sand,
make a compost-mould for Crowns, Suckers, and
Young Plants.

2. Three wheelbarrows of swarth, reduced as
above, two barrows of vegetable mould, one barrow
of coarse sand, and one-fourth of a barrow of soot,
make a compost-mould for fruiting plants,

The above composts should be made some months
before they are wanted, and very frequently turned
during that time, that the different mixtures may
get well and uniformly incorporated.

It is observable, that in hot-houses, where Pine-
plants are put in a light soil, the young plants fre-
quently go into fruit the first season, and are then
what gardeners term runners; on the contrary,
where plants are put in a strong rich soil, they will
continue to grow, and not fruit even at a proper
season : therefore, from the nature of the soil from
whence the sward was taken, the quantity of sand
used must be proportioned ; when the loam is not
strong, sand will be unnecessary in the compost
for young plants.


I conceive that the urine of sheep contains a
greater quantity of mucilage, or oleaginous matter,
than the dung of those animals : and this opinion
is founded upon observations made in sheep-pas-
tures; where, during the summer months, the effects
of both are easily distinguished. I also presume
that the reduced sward in the pens receives a very
considerable degree of fertility from the feet of the

Where oak-leaves are not used in hot-houses in-
stead of bark, the vegetable-mould may be made
by laying a quantity of them together, in a heap
sufficiently large to ferment, as soon as they fall
from the trees : they should be covered for some
time at first, to prevent the upper leaves from being
blown away. The heap should afterwards be fre-
quently turned, and kept clean from weeds : the
leaves will be two years before they are sufficiently
reduced to be fit for use.

I shall just observe, that it will be proper to keep
the different heaps of compost at all times clean
from weeds, to turn them frequently, and to round
them up in long rainy seasons. If covered, the
better : but they should be spread abroad in con-
tinued frosts, and in fine weather,

General Management. The pots he recommends
are :

Inches diameter Inches
at the top. * deep.

1. Pots for full-sized crowns

and suckers .... 6 5^

E 4


Inches diameter Inches
at the top, deep.

2. Pots for plants to fruit the

following season when

shifted in March . . Si. 7

3. Pots for fruiting plants . 114 10

I wish it to be understood that the above dimen^
sions are only used for full-sized plants, at their dif-
ferent periods : plants below the standard must
have less^sized pots in proportion.

Sometimes, he observes, hot-beds are made
for the suckers, When that is the case, they
should be prepared at least fourteen days before
the suckers are taken off, in order that the vio-
lence of the heat may be over : after the bed has
been made ten days, it should be levelled, and
covered eight or ten inches with tan ; and after
this has lain four or five days, in case the heat of
the bed should not be violent ? the pots may be
plunged into it.

In respect of temperature and water, he advises
only a moderate heat, and not much water, during
the winter months ; but an increase of both, ac-
companied with more air, as the season advances.

There is nothing, he says, so prejudicial to
the Pine-apple plant, (insects and an over-heat of
the tan excepted,) as forcing them to grow by
making large fires, and keeping the hot-house warm
at an improper season ; which is injudiciously done
in many hot-houses. It is inconsistent with


son, and against nature, to force a tropical plant in
this climate in a cold dark season, such as gener-
ally happens here in the months of November and
December ; and plants so treated will in time show
the injury done them : if large plants for fruiting,
they generally show very small fruit-buds with weak
stems ; and, if small plants, they seldom make
much progress in the beginning of the next sum-

As the length of the days, and power of the sun
increases, the plants will begin to grow, and from
that time it will be absolutely necessary to keep
them in a regular growing state ; for if young
plants receive a check afterwards, it generally
causes many of them to go into fruit. From the
time they begin to grow they will demand a little
water : once in a week or ten days, as the weather
may prove more or less favourable, will be suffi-
cient till the middle of March, which is the most
eligible season to shift them in their pots. If that
work is done sooner, it will prevent the plants from
striking freely ; and if deferred longer, it will check
them in their summer's growth.

In this shifting I always shake off the whole of
the ball of earth, and cut off all the roots that are
of a black colour, carefully preserving such only as
are white and strong. I then put such plants as
are intended to fruit the next season into second-
sized pots with fresh mould entire.

The bed at this time should be renewed with a
Jittle fresh tan, in order to promote its heating, and


the pots plunged therein immediately. The hot-
house should be kept pretty warm till the heat of
the tan begins to arise, as it will be the means of
causing the plants to strike both sooner and
stronger. As soon as the heat of the bed begins
to arise, it will be proper to give the plants a
sprinkling of water over their leaves ; and as soon
as they are perceived to grow, they will require a
little water once a week for a short time, and after-
wards twice a week till the next time of shifting
them in their pots.

During the summer months give the plants
plenty of air whenever the weather is warm, and
water properly, as has been described : let the pots
be kept in a regular constant heat, and clean from
weeds ; but above all, avoid an over-heat of the
tan. Some persons plunge a thermometer in the
tan, with the ball of its tube as deep as the bottom
of the Pine-pots ; and by repeated observations, a
point is fixed for the spirits in the part of the tube
above the surface of the tan, to show when the
pots should be raised. Whether the above, or the
putting watch-sticks in the tan (which is the most
common method) is practised, too much attention
cannot be had whenever there is the appearance
of too violent a heat in the tan.

If the above directions are strictly attended to,
the plants will be grown to a large size by the be-
ginning of August y when they should be shifted
into the largest-sized fruiting-pots, with their roots
and balls entire.


But it will be proper here to observe, that in some
hot-houses it is found difficult to get plants of the
Antigua and Sugar-loaf kinds to fruit at a proper
age ; and, in that case, I advise the shaving off the
roots on the outside, and reducing the balls of
them at this shifting. A greater proportion of sand
should also be added to the compost, which will
be the means of bringing them into a fruiting state
at a proper season.

The disproportion of the second-sized and fruit-
ing-pots is so great, as to admit of a good quantity
of fresh mould at this shifting, which is absolutely
necessary to support the plants till their fruit be-
comes ripe : it also affords an opportunity of per-
forming, the operation of shifting the plants with-
out injuring their roots. As there will be a large
space between the ball and the side of the pot, the
mould may be put round the ball with great ease ;
whereas, when plants are shifted into pots only a
small size larger than those from whence they were
taken, they are generally much injured by the ope-
ration of shifting : besides, even with the greatest
care, there will frequently be spaces left hollow
between the ball and the side of the pot.

A little fresh tan should be added, and the bed
forked up, but not to the bottom of the pit, as the
tan is liable to heat violently at this season of the
year ; of which when there is the least appearance,
the pots should be raised immediately. The delay
of doing it one day may be attended with very bad


The plants will continue to grow very fast this
and the following month, and should therefore be
watered pretty plentifully, at least twice a week ;
an$, in the summer waterings, it should be ob-
served, that it will be of great service to the plants
to be watered once a fortnight all over their leaves.
If the month of October be wet and cold, the
plants should not be watered above twice in that
month ; but if fine and clear, once a week : and
here ends the watering of the fruiting plants for
the season. I never give them any water in the
months of November and December ; and during
that time I keep the hot-house in a cold state, but
a bottom heat is always required; therefore the
tan should have been renewed, and the old part of
it screened about the end of October or beginning
of November : from which time the bed will gene-
rally retain a .moderate warmth till the beginning
of January, when the tan should again be renewed.
From that time the hot-house should be kept a few
degrees warmer ; and, as soon as the tan begins to
ferment, the plants may have a little water given

In this month (January) some of the plants will
appear set for fruiting, which may be distinguish-
ed by the short leaves in their centres ; and from
that time they should be moderately watered (till
the middle of March) and the hot-house should
be kept pretty warm ; a little air should, however,
be admitted, whenever the weather will permit.

About the middle of March it will be proper

TftE PltfE APPLE. 61

to renew the tan-bed, and, at the same time, the
plants should be divested of a few of their bottom
leaves ; the mould on the top of the pots should
be taken off as deep as can be done without injur-
ing the roots, and the pots filled up with fresh
compost-earth, which will add to the vigour of the
plants, as well as give a neatness to the whole when

It is very injurious to the plants^ and greatly
retards the swelling of the fruit, to remove them
after this season ; therefore, in case the heat of the
bed should decline, a fresh heat may be got with-
out moving the plants, by taking out the tan be-
twixt the pots as deep as possible, and filling that
space up with fresh tan This method is prac-
tised by some even at an earlier season.

The plants at this season will demand a kind,
lively bottom heat ; and whenever the weather will
permit, a great quantity of air should be admitted
into the hot- house, the want of a due proportion of
which would cause the stems of the fruit to draw
themselves weak, and grow tall ; after which the
fruit never swells kindly.

As the fruit and suckers begin to advance in
size, the plants will require plenty of water to
support them, which may be given them at least
twice, and sometimes three times a week ; but too
much should not be given them at one time ; it is
better to give them less at a time, and oftener.

Sticks should be provided to support the fruit
before it is grown too large ; and, in tying thqm a


care should be taken to leave bandage-room suf-
ficient, making allowance for the swelling of the

When the suckers are grown to about one foot
in length, they should be taken off in the same
manner that has been described; and from that
time the fruit will swell very fast. As soon as the
fruit appears full swelled, the watering such plants
as produce them should cease : but it is too gene-
ral a practice (in order to have the fruit as large as
can be got) to continue the watering too long ;
which causes the fruit to be filled with an insipid,
watery, and ill-flavoured juice.

It is easy to know when the Pine becomes ripe
by its yellow colour ; yet they do not all change in
the same manner, but most generally begin at the
lower part of the fruit. Such fruit should not be
cut till the upper part also begins to change, which
sometimes will be many days after, especially in
the Sugar-loaf kinds. Sometimes the fruit will first
begin to change in the middle, which is a certain
indication of its being ripe : such fruit should be
cut immediately.

Having thus laid down the culture of the Pine-
apple plant, whether raised from seed, by crowns,
or suckers, to its final perfection in the fruit, I
shall now subjoin some hints and observations; most
of which, I hope, will be of use.

In treating of the culture of the Pine-apple
plant, some persons have recommended the shift-
ing of the plants, from first to last, with their balls



entire ; also the shifting of them oftener than I
have here recommended. These methods I dis-
approve, for the following reasons :

First, it is observable that the Pine-plant begins
to make its roots at the very bottom of the stem ;
and, as the plant increases in size, fresh roots are
produced from the stem, still higher and higher,
and the , bottom roots die in proportion : so that, if
a plant in the greatest vigour be turned out of its
pot as soon as the fruit is cut, there will be found
at the bottom a part of the stem, several inches in
length, naked, destitute of roots, and smooth. Now,
according to the above method, the whole of the
roots which the plant produces being permitted to
remain, on the stem to the last, the old roots decay
and turn mouldy, to the great detriment of those
afterwards produced.

Secondly, the first ball, which remains with the
plant full two years, by length of time will become
hard, cloddy, and exhausted of its nourishment,
and must therefore prevent the roots afterwards
produced from growing with that freedom and
vigour which they would do in fresher and better

Thirdly, the old ball continually remaining after
the frequent shiftings, it will be too large, when
put into the fruiting-pot, to admit of a sufficient
quantity of fresh mould to support the plant till its
fruit becomes ripe, which is generally a whole year
from the last time of shifting.

It is an object of emulation amongst gardeners


to try to excel their neighbours in the size of their
Pines. In order to produce very large fruit, I re-
commend the following method, which I have often
practised with great success.

In the month of April or May, it is easy to dis-
tinguish, in a stove of Pines, which plants promise
to produce the best fruit : this is not always the
case with the largest. A few of the most promising
being marked, a small iron rod, made with a sharp
angular point, may be thrust down the centre of
the sucker; which, being turned two or three times
round, will drill out the centre, and prevent its
growing. This must be performed on all the suck-
ers as fast as they appear. Thus the plant being
plentifully supplied with water, and having nothing
to support but the fruit, will sometimes grow
amazingly large. But this method should not be
practised on too many plants, as it is attended with
the entire loss of all the suckers.

It being a practice with some to fruit the Pine
by setting the pot in water ; while others produce
the fruit by setting the plant only in water, (in a
similar manner to what is often practised with Hya-
cinths and other bulbous roots,) the passing over
these methods in silence may, by some, be deemed
an omission : but as neither of these methods can
be reduced to practice with any kind of success,
except on fruiting plants, and just in the hot sum-
mer months, when the situation of the plant ought
to be very near to the glass, they do not seem cal-
culated for general practice.


However, as some persons are inclined to sup-
pose that Pines raised by these methods are gene-
rally of superior quality, I shall just beg to say,
that the first method, of setting the pot in water,
is greatly to be preferred, and that the best time
for adopting it is immediately after the plants have
shown fruit in the spring.

Mr. Speedily is minute in his directions as to air,
water, the use of leaves instead of bark, the appli-
cation of fire, heat, &c. ; but as all these instate*
tions are more to be considered as applicable to the
general management of the hot-house, than the
particular treatment of the Pine-apple, we do not
think it advisable to trouble the reader with their

Insects. Those which more immediately infest
the Pine, were first described in Speechly's book.
They are all species or varieties of the Linnean
order Hemiptera, and genus Coccus. The first is
the brown turtle bug, Coccus Jiesperidum (Fig. 9.)
The female has at first
the appearance of a flat
scale (a) ; afterwards,
when depositing its eggs,
it becomes fixed and tur-
gid (6) ; these eggs (cr)
are hatched under the
mother, who soon after- 1^
wards dies; the young
insects, seen under a
magnifier, appear like tur-



ties in miniature (d). Only the males, (<?), which
are few in proportion to the females, have wings ;
these devour nothing, and having performed the
office of impregnation, die.

The white scaly bug, C. kesp. var. a (,/to /) bears
a considerable resemblance to the above ; but the
scale (^) is somewhat smaller ; the colour is white,
and the males or flies (7) not so large as those of the

The white mealy crimson-tinged bug, C. hesp. var.
(n and m) differs from the former in being larger
and crimson-coloured. Speechly considers it as
viviparous. This and the former species are much
the most pernicious.

Mr. Speechly's mode of destroying these and
other insects, being much too elaborate for modern
practice, it would be a waste of time to repeat his
processes. Simple modes are always the most effec-
tual, and nothing can be more so than M'Phail's
mode of applying the steam of water ; or Baldwin's,
that of horse-dung.

Fruit produced. Mr. Speechly does not seem
to have had a fixed object as to the production of
fruit, unless it was to have it good. Some culti-
vators, as Justice, aim at having all the fruit ripe
at that season when they will attain the greatest size
and most flavour, viz. in August and September ;
others aim at having some weekly throughout the
year. Itwould appear that the former was Speechly's
object, and that he did not contemplate the other
as now generally practised. " Large fruiting
plants," he says, " will sometimes show their fruit


in the months of August and September, but these
are generally thought of no value, and, consequently,
thrown away. To prevent this, I frequently take
such plants out of the hot-house as soon as their
fruit begin to appear. I then set them in a shed or
out-house for five or six weeks ; at the expiration
of which time I pot them as in the month of March,
after shaking off their balls. After this I plunge
them into the tan."

What was the common weight of the Queen
Pines produced at Welbeck, he does not inform us ;
but a fruit of the New Providence, produced in
the gardens at Welbeck in 1794, weighed 5 Jib., or
84 oz. He generally fruited the Queen Pine in the
third season, being under two years of time ; and
the Providence and Antigua in the fourth season.


Culture of the Pine Apple by James M'Phail, gardener to the late
Earl of Liverpool, at Addlscombe, in Surrey, from 1788 to

Mr. M'Phail, when in practice, was reckoned one
of the first growers of the Pine Apple in England ;
he grew the plants, and also fruited them chiefly in
pits ; the pots plunged in bark, and the bark inclos-
ed by a perforated wall of his invention, and heated
by linings of dung. He also grew them in larger

Form of House. No great consequence is at-
tached to the construction of the house by this
gardener. WiiereL, Pines are to be grown in a hot-

F 2


house along with vines in Speedily' s manner, he
says, " I think a good method is to make it into
one or more divisions of about forty feet long, six-
teen feet wide;" the back wall thirteen feet, and
the front wall nine feet, the upper four feet being
composed of sliding sashes. The slope in the roof
will, by these dimensions, be four feet, or about
three inches to a foot. The pit is to be surround-
ed by a path, which behind will be four feet higher
than in front, and, consequently, the end paths must
have steps. The fire-place being placed in the
back wall, and supplied from the shed behind, the
flue should be carried round about the inside,
stretching from the fire-place across the end and
along between the path and the front wall, leaving
a cavity of four or five inches wide between the
flue and the wall, to admit the heat to rise freely,
and to prevent the roots and stems of the vines
planted in the border against the front wall from
being too much heated. At that end of the divi-
sion farthest from the fire, after going across the
house under the back path, the flue must rise
above the path, and go along close against the
back wall communicating with the chimney, which
stands at the end corner of the wall just above
the fire-place. The flue from the fire-place along
the front wall to the opposite end of the house,
is to be made nearly three feet deep, seven inches
wide, and when it riseth above the back side
path against the back wall to the chimney, it
should be about three feet feet six inches deep of
brick, on edge two inches thick, besides the plas-


tering, and covered with inch thick tiles closely
joined with fine mortar to prevent the smoke from
getting into the house among the plants. The
mouths of the fire-places should be about sixteen
inches wide, twelve inches deep, and the doors and
their posts may be made of cast iron. The grates
should be thirty inches long, and their bars of un-
cast iron made to take out at will.. Some have
the fire-places wholly of cast iron, one or more
inches thick, in form of a square funnel about three
feet in length. This appears to be a good method,
because they keep in repair several years, whereas
the sides of the fire-places built of brick generally
require repairing yearly.

The tan-pit need not be deeper than three feet,
or three feet six inches ; and the path which sur-
rounds it should not be narrower than twenty
inches; but two feet, or for the. back pit two feet
and a half, will be better. The vines are introduced
under the sill of the front glasses, and trained up
the rafters ; and Mr. M'Phail's practice is not to
withdraw them in the winter season as is done by
other gardeners. The surface of the tan-bed should
not be nearer the glass than five or six feet. Two
houses, each forty feet in length, joined together,
can be kept warm with two fires, better than one
house of forty feet ; but in cold, exposed situations,
he would recommend diminishing the length.

With respect to pits, M'Phail observes, -" Suc-
cession Pine plants grow exceedingly well in pits
covered with glazed frames, linings of warm dung

F 3



being applied to them in cold frosty weather. The
north wall of a pit for this purpose had best be only
about four feet above the ground ; and if about two
feet high of it the whole length of the wail begin-
ning just at the surface of the ground four feet be-
low the height of the wall, be built in the form of
the outside walls of my cucumber bed, the lining
will warm the air in the pit more easily than if the
wall were built solid. The linings of dung should
not be lower in their foundation than the surface of
the tan in the pits in which the plants grow (for it
is not the tan that requires to be warmed, but the
air among the plants) ; and as during the winter
the heat of the air in the pit . among the plants,
exclusive of sun heat, is not required to be greater
than from sixty to sixty-five degrees, strong linings
are not wanted : one against the north side, kept
up in cold weather nearly as high as the wall, will
be sufficient, unless the weather get very cold in-
deed, in which case a lining on the south side may

1 2 3 5 7 8 9 10 11 12

Online LibraryJ. C. (John Claudius) LoudonThe different modes of cultivating the pine-apple, from its first introduction into Europe to the late improvements of T. A. Knight, esq → online text (page 5 of 12)