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Balsam

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Balsam
Impdtiem Balsdmina, Linn. (Balsdminn horténsis, DC. Balsdmiml Impliliens. Hort. Impdtiens ram-inea. Sims, B.M. 1256). Geron|'d<-err. An erect,
much-branched. half succulent annual, long ago intro
duced from India, and now widely cult. for its showy fls. It has varied immensely in the doubling, size and color of its tie. and in the stature of the plant. It was known to Gerarde in 1596. The plant has lanceolate, toothed lvs., the lower ones being mostly in pairs. The fls. are clustered in the indie of the lvs., on very Short stalks; sepals and petals similarly colored and not easily distinguished, one of the sepals (of which there seem to be 3) long-spurred; petals apparently 3, but two of them probably represent two united petals, thus making 5; stamens 5. The pod, shown in Figs. 179 and 180, is explosive. It has 5 carpels and very thin partitions, and seeds borne on axile placenta. When the capsules are ripe,a pinch or concussion will cause the valves to separate and contract, the seeds being thrown with considerable force. The full-double Balsams are known as the Camellia flowered varieties (Fig. 181). In well selected stock, the greater part of the flowers from any batch of seedlings should come very double. The colors range from white to dark blood-red, yellowish and spotted. Balsams are of very easy culture. They are tender, and should be started in thumb-pots or boxes indoors, or in the open when danger of frost is past. The seeds are large, and germinate quickly. The plants prefer a rich, sandy loam, and must not suffer for moisture. Transplanting, and pinching-in the strong shoots, tend to make the plants dwarf and compact. It is well to remove the first flower-buds, especially if the plants are not thoroughly established. Better results are obtained when only a few main branches are allowedto grow, all the secondary and weak ones being pinched out. The lower lvs. may he removed if they obscure the fls. Well grown plants should stand 2 ft. apart each way. and the tall kinds will reach a height of 2-254 ft. Seed of the finest double strains is expensive, but inferior or common seed gives little satisfaction. Plants started early in May should give fls. in July. and should bloom until frost. A full grown plant is shown in Fig. 182. At the present time, Balsams are grown chiefly for their value as flower-garden plants ; but some years ago the tie. were largely used as "groundwork" in florists’ designs, par ticularly the double white varieties. The flowers were wired to toothpicks, and were then thrust into the moss which formed the body of the design. L H B

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