This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The broad leaved Franciscea (Franciscea latifolia) is a South American evergreen shrub, belonging to the natural order Scrophulariaceae. It is a native of Brazil and is said to be found growing in great abundance and luxuriance at a place called Tejuce not far from Rio Janeiro, where it forms a dwarfish branched evergreen shrub growing about six or ten feet high, with alternate entire elliptic leaves, shining above and from three to five inches in length. As it is a plant of easy culture, and to be found only in a few collections, I desire to call the attention of the readers of the Monthly to this beautiful plant. It possesses the useful quality of blooming at a period when flowers are scarce, and flowering plants of little beauty are highly prized. Its period of flowering is about the first of December, but this period may be considerably extended by having several plants and keeping some of them in a dormant state, by a little attention as to temperature. I prefer to have it flower early in December, as flowers are at that time not only scarce, but very desirable. The flowers of this Franciscea are produced in loose cymes in the greatest profusion, and exhale a fragrance that is agreeable to most persons, and in size measuring from two to two and one half inches in diameter.
Their color is of a dark blue when first developed, but after the second day they gradually and slowly become really colorless or of a delicate white, thus presenting on the plant a diversity of colors varying from dark blue to pure white; the flowers, however, retain their fragrance to the last, and continue to be produced in profusion for a considerable length of time.
The culture of this plant is very simple. It requires and must have good drainage and a compost made of one half well rotted sods from an old pasture, and the other half, sand and half mould, or well rotted stable manure in about equal parts. While growing during the winter season it requires a shaded part of the house, a moist atmosphere, an average temperature of 55°, and if it can be given, bottom heat. It can be set out in the open air, in a position fully exposed to the sun, about the middle of May, and removed to the house about the middle of September. During the summer season enough water should be given to supply its wants, but after it is taken inside, water should be given very sparingly until it commences to grow, when the plant should be occasionally sprinkled overhead, and water should be freely given. If grown in a pot, the pot should be plunged when the plant is set outside for summer, and on no account allow the plant to become pot-bound.
Our plant is about five feet high, and four feet in circumference, and is now (December 7th) in full bloom.
Cuttings prepared from the partially ripened wood are said to root with tolerable facility in heat under glass. Our plant also ripens seeds freely from which young plants could no doubt be readily obtained with a little care.