This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Admirers of the old-fashioned but extremely pretty Cuphea platycentra, so popular about a quarter of a century ago, will be much pleased with C. Hillfieldiana; for whilst possessing the neat habit of the older form, it is of more vigorous growth and has larger and more richly-colored flowers. It has a branching habit and usually attains a height of ten or twelve inches, and is densely furnished with rich glossy green leaves. The flowers are trumpet-shaped, about an inch in length, and of a rich crimson color. It may be had in bloom during the greater part of the year, and although its usual period of flowering is from spring to autumn, it may, by a proper course of culture and genial temperature, be had in bloom during the winter months. Small bushes are remarkably attractive, but, like C. platycentra, it will probably appear to the best advantage in the form of standards upon stems from fifteen to eighteen inches in height.
I have for many years grown standard specimens of the species last mentioned, and as they are usually much admired during the time they are in the conservatory, it is not unreasonable to suppose that a few particulars of the course of culture by which examples with well-furnished heads are obtained will prove useful to some of the numerous readers of the magazine. A batch of cuttings are struck in the usual way in the spring, and after they have been potted off and made sufficient progress to show which are likely to grow with the greatest vigor, the strongest plants are put on one side to receive the special training necessary in the production of standards. The others are simply stopped, and in due course planted in the borders or shifted on to form neat bushes for the conservatory. The first matter to be considered is.the formation of a stout stem, and, as in the case of fuchsias and other plants required for standards, the shoot of which the plant consists must be trained to a neat stake fixed in the pot, and the side-shoots be nipped off as fast as they make their appearance. When the desired height is attained the top must be nipped off and all the side-shoots that push from four to five inches below be allowed to remain.
These in their turn will want stopping at the fourth or fifth joint, and unless extra large heads are in request there should be no further stopping.
. A vigorous growth must be maintained by shifting the plants on as becomes necessary until they reach pots eight inches in diameter. Very neat standards may be had in six-inch pots. A rich and rather light compost is necessary, and this can be prepared by well mixing together three parts mellow turfy loam, one part each of powdery manure and leaf-mould, and half a part of sand. The plants may be kept in excellent condition for several years by simply repotting them annually, and reducing the ball of soil at each shift, sufficiently to allow of their being returned to pots of the same size.
Cuphea Hillfieldiana, it remains to be said, was introduced by Mr. Wilson Saunders, and grown for some years in his gardens at Hillfield, before it found its way to trade collections. - Flower Gardener, in Gardener's Magazine.