"Dwarf Trees" in Peterson's Magazine

       DWARF PLANTS. -- The lovers of flowers have recently been presented with a new attraction, in the shape of diminutive plants growing in pots no larger than a lady's thimble, yet apparently healthy and flourishing.  Such nick-nacks seem made by fairy hands for the purpose of adorning some elfin conservatory or parterre; and this poetical association, combined with their own intrinsic prettiness, has made these dwarf plants to be much sought after.  Those who tend their gardens and green-houses with their own hands, naturally wish themselves to manipulate these mignonnet, and we are willing to assist them to the extent of our power, and for this purpose copy, from Mrs. Laudon, the process to be pursued.
       Choose the time when the tree is in flower, and select a branch, preferring that which is most fantastic and crooked.  By two clean circular cuts, about an inch of bark is removed all round the stem, and earth is applied to the wound, and made to press upon it by a piece of cloth.  This application is kept moistened until roots are formed at the incision, when the branch is removed, is potted, and thus becomes an independent tree.  As the process is only a substitution of a part for the whole, it cannot properly be called dwarfing; great care and skill, however, are required for its successful accomplishment.  In China, where the process originated, the trees most commonly thus treated are the dimocarpus; litchi, the favorite fruit of the country; the carambol, with its octagonal fruit; the longan, a kind of plum; the orange, apple, pear, &c.
       The great rule to be observed is, to confine your operations to plants of a succulent nature, or, in other words, such as are least dependent upon soil and water.  That we may be as popular as possible, we may mention cactuses, and mesembryaceś, or ice-plants, as illustrations of what we mean.  Small shoots of different varieties of these and similar families of plants must be taken off and rooted in the usual way, and afterwards removed to the small pots intended for them.  It is evident that when the space is so small, great attention should be paid to the soil and drainage.  The latter will be best secured by potsherds broken to the size of a small pea, and placed to the depth of the third of an inch in the bottom of the pot.  The soil should be porous, composed of white sand, leaf-mould, and a portion of pounded crocks, still finer than that used for the lower drainage.  As growth is to be deprecated in these tiny specimens, no more moisture must be afforded than is sufficient to secure health.  1


1     Peterson's Magazine (Philadelphia), Vol. XVIII, No. 4, October 1850, in the section "Editors' Table: Chit-Chat With Readers, pg. 174.

       Not sure if the "Mrs. Laudon" referred to was "Mrs. Loudon" by way of an earlier edition we have not accessed yet.  The material was partly presented three years earlier here.

       The second and third paragraphs were then reprinted as a single paragraph in "Dwarf Plants,"  A Journey of Discovery All Around Our House, Or The Interview, A Companion Volume to "Enquire Within Upon Everything" (London: Houlston and Wright; 1867), in the section "Enquiries Answered," pg. 278.
Originally on this web site as http://www.phoenixbonsai.com/1800Refs/Journey1867.html

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