The Magazine of Horticulture 6(10): 378 (Oct 1838)

Use of Charcoal in the preservation of Plants.

One of the great inconveniences of low and moist grounds is, the difficulty they present in cultivating flower-roots of every description. These are generally destroyed by a kind of mouldiness which attaches itself to the shoots below, at different periods of their growth. It is easy to know when a plant has been thus attacked, for the stem assumes a dirty green color, approaching a yellow. The yellow soon supersedes the other, the leaves change, and sometimes full off. The only means of preventing this evil, which most commonly attacks a number of plants at the same time, is to place a layer of powdered charcoal over the parts where the roots are to be planted. The best kind of charcoal for this purpose is, that which remains in dust after the large pieces have been taken away. When the earth has been prepared in the usual way for the reception of roots, about half an inch of the charcoal powder should be spread over the surface; the whole should then be lightly stirred together, in order that the charcoal should be incorporated with the earth. We have tried many experiments to prove the efficacy of this remedy, and in no instance has there been a failure. Thus, in a bed of roots fifteen feet long, by five wide, situated in a low moist soil, two-thirds were, a short time back, prepared in the way above stated, while the remainder was left undefeuded. The result was, that in the latter portion the roots were lost, whilst in the other we never had finer plants. The powder should be preserved dry, and, generally speaking, it may be used with advantage in the flower garden.