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

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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 6 of 12)
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be applied. In cold frosty weather a covering of
hay or of straw, or of fern, can be laid on the
glass above mats in the night-time.


" The brick bed of my inventing, (fig. 10.) for forc-
ing early cucumbers, answers well for growing small
succession plants. A pit built on the same construc-
tion, but of larger dimensions, without cross flues,
is a suitable one for growing Pine Apple plants of
any size ; for by linings of dung the air in it can
be kept to a degree of heat sufficient to grow and
ripen the Pine Apple in summer, as well as it ^can
be done with fire heat, only it will require a little
more labour and plenty of dung.

Soil. " The Pine Apple plant will grow very well
in any sort of rich earth taken from a quarter of the
kitchen garden, or in fresh sandy loam taken from
a common, long pastured with sheep, &c. If the
earth be not of a rich sandy quality of darkish
colour, it should be mixed well with some perfectly
rotten dung and sand, and if a little vegetable mould
is put among it, it will do it good, and also a little
soot. Though Pine plants will grow in earth of
the strongest texture, yet I have found by expe-
rience that they grow most freely in good sandy
loam not of a binding quality.

General management. * * The method which I used
to cultivate the Pine Apple is the following : The
fruit being partly over, and a cucumber brick bed
prepared for unstruck crowns and suckers, towards
the end of August or September, I planted them
in rich earth in pots suitable to the size of the
plants ; I then had the pots plunged to their rims
in the tan bed in which there was a good growing

F 4


heat ; the lights were then shut down close, and as
great a heat kept among the plants as the heat of
the tan and sunshine could raise, and when the sun
shone long and very bright, the plants were shaded
a few hours in the middle of the day. The plants
were thus managed till they had struck root and
begun to grow, when a gentle watering was given
to them, and a little air admitted daily. About
the end of October or beginning of November, if
the state of the bed required it, a little fresh tan
was added, and if the plants by growth had become
crowded, some of them were removed into another
place, and the remainder plunged into the tan bed,
in which they continued till February or March,
when of course the bed required an addition of
fresh tan, which was given it, and the plants plung-
ed again into it at such distances one from the other
as to give them room to grow ; here they remained
till May or June, at which time they were shifted
into larger pots with the balls of earth about their
roots entire, and at this shifting, if the tan bed
wanted it, fresh tan was added to and mixed with
the old, which in general- enabled it to retain a
sufficient heat till the month of August or Sep-
tember, when the plants, with their roots unhurt,
were shifted into pots large enough to admit earth
easily round their balls between their roots and the
sides of the pots. In these pots I let the plants
remain in general till the fruit was over. At this
time of shifting, the rotten part of the tan was
taken away, and a sufficient quantity of new tan


added, which generally, with an addition to the
upper part of it, retained its heat till the latter end
of February or beginning of March ; at this time
the plants were divested of a few of their lower
leaves, to let young roots spring freely out of their
stems, the surface of the earth in the pots cleared
down to the roots, and fresh earth laid on, pressing
it close to the stems of the plants. After this
dressing, the plants needed not to be moved again
till they ripened their fruit, unless they required
more bottom heat. This is the general process
which I used, though I found it necessary to vary
according to occurring circumstances, regarding the
heat of the tan bed, the condition of the plants, and
the state of the weather.

' Some large kinds of Pine Apple plants require
three seasons to grow before they can bring large
sized fruit, such as the black Antigua, the Jamaica,
the Ripley, &c. ; therefore in the month of April
or May, after they have been planted upwards of a
year, it is best to take them out of the pots, and to
cut off all their roots close to the stem, or leave
only a few which are fresh and strong, and then
plant them- again in good earth in clean pots, and
plunge the pots in a tan bed with a lively heat in
it. After this process, a stronger heat than usual
must be kept in the house, till the plants have made
fresh roots and their leaves be perceived to grow,
when a little water may be given to them, which,
together with a good bottom and top heat, will
make them grow finely.


" Crowns and suckers taken from the parent plants
later than October, should not be planted before
the month of February or March ; for in the
winter time, probably, they would not strike root,
but rot : they may be hung or laid in a dry part of
the hot-house. By some writers on the culture of
the Pine it has been observed, < that any off-sets
from the Pine will succeed as well when planted
in the hour they are taken off, as if laid by to dry
till the wound be healed, provided the parent stock
received no water for the ten days preceding.' If
off-sets or suckers be grown to such a size, so that
they be easily separated from the parent plant, they
may be planted immediately ; for, in that case, it
may be seen that they had begun to push forth
roots, and required to be taken off and planted ; but
withholding water from the mother plant ten, or
even twenty days, will not bring its offspring to a
state of maturity fit for planting the day when taken
off. So that it is best to let unrnatured young
suckers and crowns lie unplanted, till their natural
juices be so exhausted that there maybe no danger
of their rotting after being planted.

" The brick beds of my in venting, in which I struck
and reared Pine Apple plants many years, were close
and warm, the crannies between the lappings of the
glass being filled up with putty ; consequently, in
these close frames, especially in the short days and
long nights in winter, when the sun has little in-
fluence, the moisture arising out of the tan lodges
on the glass, and drops from it, upon the plants ;


but, contrary to the opinion of some authors, who
have advised to draw the water out of the hearts of
plants when it falls into them in winter, I find, by
experience, that it does them no harm, if the heat
in the place where the plants be, is not too little.
Indeed, if plants be kept in a climate which suits
their nature, it is only reasonable to suppose that
they are possessed of properties capable of dispos-
ing of water which happens to fall on them by ac-
cident or otherwise.

" No vegetable substance that I know of retains
heat so long, and of a less violent nature, than oak
bark after being used by tanners ; and, as the
vapours arising out of it are of a wholesome nature
to plants, it is well calculated for helping to make
the Pine Apple plant grow vigorously. Where
the Pine Apple is wished to be cultivated, and tan-
ner's bark cannot be procured, horse-dung well
prepared, by shaking and breaking it small, will do.
If plenty of the leaves of trees can be had, they
are preferable to dung. When leaves cannot be
collected plentifully, dung and leaves may be mixed
together, and used successfully ; and if it be ascer-
tained that a good lively heat cannot be kept in
the bed for want of good materials, let the heat of
the flues wanned by fire, or linings of dung, be
close or near to the pit, which will cause the heal;
in the bed to be more brisk and durable.

" If it be intended to make a bed of leaves, they
should be collected as soon as they have all fallen
from the trees, and in a wet state, and thrown to-


gether in a large heap ; and after fermenting a few
weeks, they may be put into the pit for the pines.
They should be well shaken, and trodden down
gently when they get into a fermentation, which
will keep them from sinking quickly afterwards,
and prevent them from heating violently. When
the heat in the bed declines much, it may be in-
creased by turning and shaking the leaves over
with a dung-fork.

" It sometimes happens that tanner's bark heats
too violently ; but when that takes place, it is
either because there is too great a body of it put
together, or because the heat of the flues is too
close to the bed. If a tan bed get into a violent
heat, it will not keep its heat so long as if it heated
moderately ; for it must lose its heat as hastily in
proportion as it is deprived of its moisture by vio-
lent fermentation.

" It frequently happens that Pine Apple plants
designed to bear fruit do not show their fruit early
enough in the spring or fore-part of summer, to
ripen their fruit before winter, when there is not
sunshine enough to give the fruit any flavour.
This may happen because the plants have not come
to a proper growth, or their roots may have been
injured by too violent a bottom heat, or by being
over-watered, or they may have been shifted
too late, or been put into pots too large for
their roots to have filled them before the end of the
growing season. To make Pine plants shew their
fruit at an early time in the spring, some authors


have recommended the cutting off some of the
roots at the autumn shifting ; but Jong experience
has convinced me, that cutting off the roots, or des-
troying them by any means, instead of making them
show fruit, is an effectual mean to prevent them
from showing fruit, till they have again made long
roots. The fruit of the Pine Apple is formed, pro-
bably, not less than seven or eight weeks before it
appears among the leaves ; and if a plant be divest-
ed partially or totally of its roots, its growth is
stopped till it has made roots of considerable length,
when it will grow quickly. And, if before the
roots were destroyed, the fruit had been formed in
the hidden secret centre of the plant, the fruit will
grow and show itself when the leaves of the plant,
excepting those on the stem of the fruit, will make
no appearance of growing. This, perhaps, may be
the reason which induces some persons to think that
cutting off the roots of the plant causeth it to fruit
sooner than it would do were the roots suffered to

" If Pine Apple plants, intended for fruiting the
following year, be shifted late in the autumn into
pots, which their roots do not fill well before the
month of January, they probably will not show fruit
till late in the spring or summer months. For this
reason it is advisable, when they cannot be shifted
early enough in the month of August or beginning
of September, so as to fill the pots with roots before
the winter come on, to let them remain unshifted
till the fruit appear, and the stem of it be grown to


its full height, and then shift the plants into larger
pots, in the manner before 'directed, disturbing the
roots of the plants as little as can be helped. After
the plants are shifted, they must not get much
water till the fresh growth of the roots has some-
what exhausted the moisture of the fresh earth put
round them. Of two evils, it is better to give the
plants too little water than too much. But let it
be remembered, that while the fruit is in blossom,
and for some days afterwards, the plants should not
be watered all over their leaves, neither should the
plants be watered all over their leaves nor fruit,
after the fruit is fully swelled, nor should the earth
in which their roots are, be, after that time, kept very
moist, for they do not require it, because the plant
has nearly performed its office, which it never has
to do a second time it dies and leaves its offspring
to succeed it.

" Although the Pine Apple plant is of such a na-
ture that it will live upwards of six months without
earth or water, yet to bring its fruit to perfection,
a plentiful supply of both these is required. From
the time that the plants are set in earth till they
perfect their fruit, it should be endeavoured to keep
them constantly in a clean healthy growing state ;
and when they be thus managed, they will not fail
to show fruit when they be grown to a natural size.
For these reasons, I would advise that no methods
contrary to nature, but methods to assist, be used
to make them fruit at certain periods. If Pine
Apple plants be planted in rich earth, and get a


sufficiency of heat and water, they grow luxuriantly
to a great size, and do not show fruit so soon as
they do when they are planted in a poor, hungry,
or stiff soil.

" If the roots of Pine Apple plants be not put in
too great a heat, it is a difficult matter to raise the
heat in a hot-house to such a degree as is able to
destroy the plants. In the brick bed of my in-
venting, a powerful heat can be raised by means of
the linings of dung and the sun-beams, and in it
the insects on Pine and on other plants may be
shortly destroyed by heat and water.

" Some persons may think that the Pine Apple
cannot bear to be watered all over its leaves in
winter, because it is of a succulent nature, and able
to live long in a hot-house without being planted
in earth or set in water. But, for instance, the
common house-leek is of a very succulent juicy na-
ture, and will bear the greatest heat of a hot dry
summer on the warm tiles of a house : but it is well
known that this plant thrives best when it gets oc-
casional showers of raku The case is exactly simi-
lar respecting the Pine Apple, and several other
plants, of a similar nature. In regard, however, to
the best method of cultivating the Pine Apple*
there have been and will be persons who differ in
opinion. I here give my opinion, which is founded
on practice, that there i not the least danger in
watering the plants plentifully all over their leaves
in winter, or in any time of the year, provided there
be a sufficient heat kept up in the tan bed and in


the air of the house. But remember, I do not recom-
mend watering the Pine Apple plants all over their
leaves in winter as a general rule, only when it is
necessary to free the plants from insects and filth ;
then the heat in the house among the plants must
be kept strong, not lower than 70 in the morning,
and raised to 85 or 90 in the course of the day.

It is indeed evident that some of the most able
writers on the culture of the Pine Apple have
wanted that experience which may by practice be
obtained. They have asserted, that it is impossible
to keep the Pine Apple plant throughout a severe
winter without the assistance of fire. But inge-
nious practical gardeners have ascertained, that Pine
Apple plants require nothing more than a gentle
heat in the tan bed, in which the pots of plants
must be plunged, and a medium heat of air of about
60 degrees, to keep them through the most severe
winters in England. To maintain this temperature
of heat without the assistance of fire, is no difficult
matter ; it can be done by the assistance of horse-
dung ; for a dry heat is not at all necessary to pre-
serve the plants, and to keep them in good health,
in the brick beds, in which I kept Succession Pines
all the year round without the aid of fire heat. The
sun for about two months in winter had very little
effect to warm or dry the leaves of the plants, so
that during the dull months in winter, the plants
were continually in a moist state, and water stand-
ing in the hearts of some of them, and the heat of


the air among them was from 55 to about 65 ; and
I do not recollect of having any of the plants die
for want of heat.

Insects. By many experiments which I made, it
is evident, I think, that in the process of managing
and cultivating the Pine Apple, all injurious insects
may be destroyed, and prevented from breeding on
them, by a judicious application of the elements
necessary, though in a less degree in regard to heat,
for the production of any vegetables or fruits what-
ever. That this is true, may be proved by a refer-
ence to the state of fruits and vegetables growing,
either spontaneously or assisted by cultivation, in
every part of the kingdom, without the aid of arti-
ficial heat or impregnated air. For instance, the
strawberry, the raspberry, and some other fruits,
which grow naturally in some parts of this country,
and peas, beans, cabbage, and cauliflowers in gar-
dens, and the different sorts of corn and grass in
the fields. These, in unkind seasons, we see affect-
ed by blights and by insects of various kinds, which
prevent them from coming to good maturity, and
make them less productive than we wish them to
be. But in propitious seasons, the earth being re-
freshed occasionally by showers of rain, they are
preserved from the inroads of insects and from
blights, and are enabled to produce abundant crops,
for the use of man and beast."

Mr. M'Phail has thus the merit of being one
of the first practical gardeners who freed them-
selves from the trammels of receipts and secrets for



destroying insects. He says, " after having studi-
ously observed the nature and causes of the vigor-
ous growth and healthfulness of plants, and of fruit-
trees of different kinds, I have been induced to be-
lieve that a fruit-tree or plant of any sort requires
nothing but proper cultivation in good earth, and
in a kindly climate adapted to its nature, to pre-
vent it from being injured by insects, or by blights
of any kind, and to enable it to produce, of its
kind, abundant crops. However, I wish it not to
be understood that I disapprove of using means of
any kind to destroy insects which are injurious to
plants ; but I conceive that all methods used for
that purpose, ought to be such as are conducive to
accelerate the growth of vegetables, by having at
least a tendency to purify the air, and to make the
circumambient atmosphere about them congenial
to their nature, unless when the destruction of the
insects by the hand is effected/'

" Every insect has its proper plant, or tribe of
plants, which it naturally requires for its nourish-
ment, and on which it generally lays its eggs, and
that on the most concealed parts of the plant ; and
the plant, and insect which attacks it, are always
natives of the same climate, and therefore endure
the same degrees of heat and cold ; consequently,
when plants are attacked by their natural tribe of
insects, it is an exceedingly nice and curious oper-
ation to exterminate them without injuring the
plants, or stopping them in their natural growth.
But observing that insects increase rapidly in hot


dry weather, and that they appear impatient of
moisture, was the means of inducing me try which
would bear the greatest heat and live."

" To ascertain what degree of heat a Pine Apple
plant can endure without destroying it, I filled four
vessels with hot water. The water in the first vessel
was 130 degrees hot ; that in the second 140 ; that
in the third 145; that in the fourth 150. Into
each of these vessels I put a few Pine plants, di-
vested of their roots, of their fibrous roots, and suf-
fered them to remain in the water about an hour.
The plants which had been immersed in the water
heated to 140 and 145 degrees, were a little hurt
in the 'extremities of their leaves, but after being
dried in the hot-house, they were planted, and grew
as vigorous as if they had not been put into hot
water ; the plants put into water 130 degrees warm
were not in the least injured ; but those put into
water heated to 150 degrees were entirely de-

" By this experiment I ascertained that a vege-
table can endure, without hurting it, ISO degrees of
heat, according to the degrees on Fahrenheit's
thermometer. I am inclined to think that no ani-
mal is able to endure such a heat and live. Un-
doubtedly, insects increase rapidly in hot weather
in the open air, especially on the peach tree, and
on other trees, against warm walls, both in the
spring and summer months ; and they increase
most rapidly in dry weather ; but the heat in the
open air against walls seldom rises to 100 degrees.

G 2


And in the hottest countries in the world, where
vegetables and animals exist, the heat in the shade
seldom rises to blood heat, which is about 97-
Having considered these things, and ascertained
that a plant can endure a heat of 130 degrees, I
determined to try another experiment, that is, to
ascertain whether heat and water would destroy
insects, and keep plants alive. I therefore thought
of, and determined to try, the following method :

66 In the month of June I selected about twenty
large Pine plants, some of which had green fruit
on them, and their leaves, fruit, and roots, were
almost covered with insects. These plants I plung-
ed in a tan bed, with a very gentle heat in it. The
tan bed was in a brick frame designed for rearing
succession plants : it was nearly five feet wide,
twenty feet long, and the glass frames were close
and in good repair. These plants I watered fre-
quently and plentifully, sometimes twice a day,
with water not less than 70 or 80 degrees, and
sometimes 100, warm: in short, I kept the plants
constantly in a moist air, by plentiful waterings
without measure ; and, excepting the time of giv-
ing water, I kept the lights constantly close shut
down, even in the hottest sunshine, without shading
the plants. In this frame I had no thermometer,
but the heat was, I think, sometimes about two or
three o'clock' in the afternoon, upwards of 120 de-
grees. This great heat and much moisture: caused
the plants to grow most vigorously ; and having
subjected them to the said mode of management


for a few weeks, the insects, in the course of that
time, were totally destroyed, many of them lying
dead on the leaves and fruit. In the spring-time,
before this operation, the plants had been strewed
with sulphur, which, at least, is a harmless dressing
to plants of any kind, and probably may be of use
in preventing insects from breeding numerously, or
the means of depriving them of part of their natu-
ral food. This circumstance, however, I just here
mention, because, from experiments which I have
tried since then, it is probable that the effluvia aris-
ing from flour of sulphur, being scattered on the
leaves, or about in the hot-house, in conjunction
with heated air and moisture, may more suddenly
destroy insects than heat and moisture alone ; but
it ought to be remembered, that if sulphur be by
any means set on fire in a confined place, among
plants of any kind, it will either totally destroy or
greatly injure them.

" Being satisfied with my success in the above-
mentioned experiment, of having totally destroyed
the insects on these plants without hurting them,
I hesitated not to begin to water the whole of the
plants under my care, whenever they wanted it, all
over their leaves and fruit, with water about 85
degrees warm. This process I continued to prac-
tise for several months, during which time I do not
recollect that the thermometer was ever below 70,
and in sunshine it was raised sometimes to up-
wards of 110 degrees. I continued this practice
longer perhaps than was absolutely necessary, but I

G 3


was determined to destroy the whole of the insects
in the house, whether on the plants, or in the tan,
or in any part of the house ; and this I certainly did
accomplish effectually. Thus, by this easy, and not
unnatural, mode of management, the plants became
perfectly free of insects ; they were perfectly cleans-
ed of all filth ; they grew vigorously ; and the fruit
swelled fine to a good size. After this I had seve-
ral times Pine Apple plants from abroad, and out
of hot-houses at home, full of insects, which, by the
means that I have, without reserve, described, I
effectually destroyed, and made the plants grow
very fast indeed."

" If Pine Apple plants be kept in a strong vigor-
ous growing state by giving them plenty of heat,
and water applied occasionally all over their leaves,
whether they be in frames heated with dung, or in
hot-houses heated by a fire, a few insects will do
them little hurt. But if the methods which I have

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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 6 of 12)