This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
This beautiful plant is a native of Mexico, and belonging to the natural order Solanaceae, deserves more attention than it gets, for instead of attention from many it gets what the gardener terms "pitched out." So a word on its culture, and the description of a plant growing in our conservatories may not be out of place in the Monthly. The plant I refer to was grown from a cutting about eighteen months ago, and planted out in the bed where it is now growing scarce one year ago, and at this writing, November 28, it has towered up to the height of sixteen feet by twelve feet through, and by actual count it was found to contain over six hundred trusses with buds and blooms, about one-sixth fully expanded and drooping with all the gracefulness of life, which forms a sight worth seeing. And aside from the beauty of the bloom on the plant, in a cut state they last a considerable time, and work in to good advantage in cut flowers. It has, I admit, a fragrance that is not much admired, but by introducing fragrant flowers around, it is seldom or ever noticed. As regards culture, the most essential point is potroom, and without that it will not do much. It does not require the temperature of the hothouse.
The house in which our plant is growing has often registered forty-five, and below that on some occasions. The soil used was principally composed of screenings of soil for finer purposes, which evidently contained much manure. It is easily propagated by cuttings taken from wood not too old or not too young, which, by a little observation, can be easily regulated by the pressure the knife requires. Inserted in brisk heat they soon root; when rooted, pot off and place in a sunny place when started in the pots. Keep them pushing lively by giving plenty of pot room. When all danger of frost is over plunge the pots outside in full sun; about the middle of September place them in the the greenhouse in a sunny situation, give manure water freely, and when they show inclination to break give larger pots. If good specimens give two sizes larger. They will soon fill up and bloom finely. Admitting as I do that good plants and bloom can be obtained from pot culture, still I would advise any one that has the space to bed it out against the south wall, or any sunny place where scarce anything else would grow, to try the Habrothamnus. I think you could plant nothing that would afford so much pleasure as well as benefit in so short a space of time.
As I have just said, good flowers can be obtained from pot-culture, but the blooms fall far short of having that brilliant hue which the plant in the bed would yield. As to insects, I have the first one of any kind to see on the plant yet.