This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Last year I had the pleasure of sending you some flowers of Celosia Clarkii, calling your attention at the same time to the pretty habit of this plant, suggesting also that it probably might make a nice addition to our winter flowers. But little I expected at the time that the plant would, in this brief period, become such a general favorite among our floricultural friends, both as bedder and winter flowerer, that I think, I am justified in relating now a few facts and experiences with this Celosia in order that some others may also have the pleasure of learning something about this new pretty stranger, who already claims to have gained so many friends and admirers. Among a collection of Chinese seed received from Scotland in 1879 there was a package of Celosia - of which the Celosia Clarkii originated; the young plants were potted off and planted out on a flower-border after the usual manner, but attention was soon called to the above variety by its fine, strong branching habit and the multitude of bright unusual shaped flowers; and about September, when in full bloom, it could be seen from a great distance, the pinkish-red flowers, when close, resembling a densely furnished miniature fir-tree. Seed was anxiously looked for, but upon a most careful examination there was not a single seed to be found and the only chance of perpetuating was left from cuttings, which were mighty scarce, as all seemed to be flower wood.
A few of the most likely pieces were taken just before frost; they rooted freely, and commenced, as soon as they were established in pots, to throw up flower shoots over flower-shoots, nothing but flower-shoots - and so on all winter. In May, 1880, all the old plants were set out in a fine sunny exposure, and about July they were on a fair way to equal, if not to supersede the parent plant. This little experience of the preceding winter demonstrated the fact, that it would make one of the most prolific winter flowering plants. The culture is quite simple; cuttings made early in August of young growths just showing flower-heads will root as easily as Coleus ; pinched back, and shifted on in five-inch pots, put out of doors along with Stevia, Eupatorium, Bouvardia, Poin-settia, and other winter-flowering plants. They will be by the end of September in a splendid condition for winter, and which they are to my utmost satisfaction in a Bouvardia house, the contrast between the Bouvardia and the Celosia flowers being a most pleasing one.
Mr. A. Thorpe, Washington, D. C, writes: "I send you by mail a box containing specimen pieces of Celosia pyramid-alis Clarkii, of which perhaps you will remember, that Mr. Neidman, of the Botanic Gardens, sent you some specimens last fall for your opinion. Your answer was favorable about it, as you said you considered it a very valuable addition to our fall bedding and winter flowering plants; the piece I send you is not quite so fine as he sent last fall, as it is not in full flower until the first of September. I also send you specimens of three varieties of coleus; the seed was collected by Mr. Neidman in the South Sea Islands.
[These specimens confirm our former good opinion. It is a very desirable plant for winter flowering. - Ed. G. M].