This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In reply to Mrs. R. P., who inquires in the August Monthly, page 237, for information respecting Bryophyllum calycinum, I would say that it belongs to the Natural Order Crassulacese, and that it is a native of the East Indies from which country it was introduced in 1800.
It is a succulent, evergreen plant growing about three feet high, with thick, fleshy, opposite leaves, the leaves being composed of three to five foliate oval crenate leaflets. The flowers are produced from April to July in loose terminal panicles, the single flowers being long and pendulous, with an inflated calyx and a tubular purple corolla. It is a plant of easy cultivation, requiring good drainage, a rich loamy soil and but little water. Propagation is effected by the leaves which produce buds on their margins, which produce new plants if placed in • a damp situation. During wet summer weather they occasionally do this in the living plant, this peculiarity renders it rather an interesting plant.
If Mrs. R. P. possesses a copy of Peter Henderson's plant catalogue for 1877, she will find on page 26 an excellent wood-cut of the Bryophyllum from which she can form a much better idea of its manner of flowering than I could possibly give her by words.
Why Mrs. R. P.'s plant does not flower I cannot say, but I would advise her to allow it to become pot bound, and to keep it dry during the winter months. Commence to water freely in April, giving it an occasional watering of liquid manure water. After it has ceased flowering, shift the plant into a larger pot, and gradually withhold all water after the first of October. Thus treated, I do not think it is a difficult plant to flower, and I am inclined to the opinion that Mrs. R. P. gives her plant too much pot room for its roots. The Bryophyllum is cultivated, however, more for the peculiarity of its leaves rooting at their edges than the beauty of its flowers.