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 lance-leaved Porphyrocoma, Porphyro-coma lanceolata is an old hothouse plant of rare beauty, belonging to the natural order Acanthaceae. It is a plant of very easy culture, and is to be found only in a few collections, but it is well worthy of being introduced into all collections of rare and beautiful plants. It is a perennial hothouse plant, attaining a height of about one foot, with dark green opposite lanceolate leaves, the leaves being slender at the base, producing its flowers in terminal and axillary spikes. The flower spikes are of a rich purple color, and are deeply four angled. The corolla, or as it is by some termed the flower, protrudes far beyond the bracts, and thus gives the plant a rather singular and attractive appearance. It requires for its successful cultivation, a compost of two-thirds well-rotted sods and one-third well-rotted manure and good drainage, a temperature of 55°, and during its season of growth a moist atmosphere, and an abundance of water. Its period of growth is during the winter months, and the beautiful tufts of flowers are produced about the first week in February, and continue in perfection for two or three weeks.
Alter the flowering season is over do not water so freely, and about the middle of May turn the plant out of its pot; reduce the ball of earth about one-half, and plant out into a partially shaded, well prepared border, from whence it should be taken up and potted about the middle of September. When taken up and potted it should be placed in as small a pot as possible, and when it commences to grow it should be shifted as often as is necessary, and on no account should it be allowed to become pot bound.
Propagation is readily effected by seeds which are freely produced, and it could also be increased by cuttings. If the seeds are sown as soon as ripened in a pot or pan of well drained, light sandy soil, and the young plants liberally treated, fine flowering specimens will be obtained for another season. With a number of plants and a little care and attention as to management, etc, a succession of bloom could, I think, be obtained during the late winter and early spring months. Care should also be taken to keep this plant at all times free from insects.
The generic name is derived from " porphyron" purple and " koma " head of hair in allusion to the richly colored spike from which the brightly colored flowers appear.