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Old-Time Tips For Garden Tenderfeet: Timeless Wisdom

These snippets of quick tips come from a household booklet published in 1947 and features advice given for handling plants, cut flowers and a couple gardening related tips. *Updated: I moved two more pages here for one lengthy sheet of vintage tips. What does “Tenderfeet” mean? You’ll find the answer in the second set below ;).

Old-Time Tips For Flowers & Plants

This collection of vintage tips was published in 1938 (Sunset Magazine) and were sent in by the magazine’s readers, the best were published in a column titled “Garden Tips For Tenderfeet“. Although they were shared over 70 years ago, I think they’re still helpful for today’s gardeners.

Neat to Know: Tenderfoot (plural tenderfeet) was a nickname given back in the day to someone new or inexperienced. Today we call them “newbies”.

Do Gardening Tips & Tricks Ever Get Old?

Source: Two Sunset Magazines published in 1938

More Goodies

First published August 1st, 2008 and moved to this page for better organization

These tips were collected from a variety of books and magazines from the 1940s and 1950s.

There are a couple treatments suggested that raised my eyebrows (lol), but I included them in the list because they do reflect well the time these were written. Women tried finding uses for everything they had at their disposal. Enjoy!

  1. To grow ivy in water, add a teaspoon of liquid plant food to each pint of water. Never change the water, just add more to it as needed.
  2. When retiring the garden tools after a hard summer’s work, place a teaspoon of tea leaves in the container. These magic leaves will guard your tools against rust and corrosion. Your silverware, guns and other metal pieces can be protected too.
  3. Cut flowers keep longer if placed in leftover tea, weakened with water. This is good also for house plants.
  4. Short-stemmed flowers can be kept fresh by placing them in a bowl or vase of sand that is well moistened.
  5. Midday or afternoon is the best time to cut roses and gladiolus.
  6. A tablespoon of household bleach added to the water in a vase of zinnias will keep the stems from rotting and you will have fresh flowers longer.
  7. To keep flowers from fading, clip the stems off about an inch and let stand in mild solution of glycerin water. They will stay pretty for two or three weeks.
  8. Put a teaspoon of sugar in vase of marigolds and it will help to eliminate the odor.
  9. Cut flowers will last long if you put the flowers in hot water.
  10. Peonies last longer if the stems are split at the bottom with a sharp knife before they are placed in water.
  11. To keep flowers from dying when leaving home for several days, fold a newspaper and put under each pot in a tub of water. Place about two inches of water in the tub. Soil will stay moist and plant will be all right.
  12. Cut flowers last well with camphor in the water.
  13. To keep flowers fresh for cemetery: Mix wet sand in container and place flowers in it. Will keep them fresh for a week.
  14. Ice water should never be used on house plants as it checks their growth. Add enough hot water to the cold to make it tepid before putting on the plants.
  15. To make geraniums bloom, use bloody chicken water.
  16. Never take in old geranium plants and expect blooms; break off new parts and start, they will bloom.
  17. Use a bottle cap in the bottom of flower pots over hole before putting in the soil. This makes drainage successful. Broken pieces of pottery or pebbles also provide drainage.
  18. For quick dusting of your house fern, set it outdoors and sprinkle with the garden hose after adjust nozzle to a fine spray.
  19. Insert a few rusty nails in the soil around your African violets. The blossoms will be larger, more profuse and will have a brighter color. Keep in north window and water from the bottom.
  20. Rose bush slips will take root if you stick the stem in a white potato.
  21. Repot ferns in May, just before setting out in the garden. Choose a shady part of the garden, away from drafts and wind, and preferable on the north. Ferns thrive in a cool, even temperature, with moisture.
  22. Did you know that if you pour 2 tablespoons of castor oil around the roots of your Christmas cactus in October it will bloom in December?
  23. Gloxinia or African Violet leaves may be rooted by putting the stem through an empty spool and floating in a glass of water.
  24. One of the best fertilizers for potted plants is chimney soot, provided it is free from salt.
  25. To make a fern healthy and grow fast, put a piece of fresh meat in the pot every few weeks; must not be salty.

These aren’t vintage but a sheet of quick tips I’ve moved here for better organization (First published October 24, 2008):

Caddy Full of Plants & Tools