The Florist and Pomologist, 3rd series 2: 41-42 (Feb 1869)
THE PERSIAN LILAC, FOR EARLY FORCING
P. Grieve, Culford Hall

ALMOST every garden establishment in the country is expected to furnish a constant and abundant supply of cut flowers during the entire season; and there is, generally speaking, little difficulty experienced in realizing this expectation during ten months of the year; but during the remaining two, namely, January and February, even those who can command every appliance sometimes find a difficulty in meeting the demand. This consideration induces me to call attention to the beautiful sweet-scented shrub which I have named, whose flowers are so suggestive of the balmy breezes of returning spring, that they seldom fail to secure for it the position of a general favourite. It has, moreover, the great advantage of being more easily forced than almost any other shrub; so much so, that it may be had in flower at almost any time. In fact, so accommodating is this plant that a bush of any manageable size may be taken up from the shrubberies, potted, and placed in a warm house, and successfully forced into flower.

Great advantage will, however, be found in having a number of plants prepared and kept for the express purpose of forcing. Any time during the winter let a number of strong suckers be secured from the shrubberies, or an old bush may be taken up and pulled to pieces, selecting a number of rods with a few fibres attached to them; cut these into lengths of about nine inches or a foot, and clear off any suckers or buds from amongst the fibres and from the lower part of the stems, the object being to form dwarf standard plants with clean stems about six or nine inches in length. Plant them in rows at about two feet apart each way, and during the first summer stop some of the strongest shoots, to induce them to form compact, well-balanced heads; and some time during the succeeding winter or spring cut each shoot back to within two inches of the stem. During the following summer they may be expected to form compact round heads, consisting of many shoots, and nearly every shoot terminated by an inflorescence. In the course of the ensuing winter the plants may be taken up, carefully potted, and successfully forced into flower as required.

Some sixteen years since I prepared a number of plants in the manner I have described, and a portion of them have been forced successfully every winter since that time. The same plants, however, are never forced two winters in succession, but all are transplanted every spring, having their roots at the same time slightly reduced, the suckers, if any have been formed, removed, and the shoots shortened, or rather cut close back, so that the plants are never allowed to flower excepting when they are forced.

To illustrate the small amount of forcing these plants require, I may state that two dozen of them were taken up and potted into 8-in. and 10-in. pots on December 2nd, 1867, and were at once placed on the floor of an early vinery, where the minimum temperature ranged from about 55° to 60°. The blossoms began to open during the first week of the following January, and on the 7th of that month the plants were removed into a cool conservatory, where at the end of January they were in full beauty, most of them bearing upwards of a hundred thyrses of blooms. I need scarcely say that, besides furnishing an immense quantity of cut flowers, such plants form no despicable objects for conservatory or greenhouse decoration at that season of the year.

It is important that they should be removed from the forcing-house into a cooler atmosphere as soon as the blooms begin to expand. When they have done flowering they should be slightly protected for a time, and then planted out. About the end of March their shoots should be cut close back, and in the second succeeding winter they will again be in a fit state for forcing.