This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V25", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Pharbitis Learii, or as it is more generally known and cultivated under the name of Ipomoea Learii, is a splendid evergreen climbing or twining plant, belonging to the natural order Convolvulacae. It is a native of the beautiful and fertile island of Ceylon, from whence it was introduced in 1839. It is a beautiful evergreen species, attaining a height of from twenty-five to thirty-five feet, the shrubby stem being covered with a hairy pubescence. The leaves are variable in form; most frequently they are cordate, but occasionally they are three-lobed and of a deep green color above, while underneath they are covered with a whitish pubescence, and the beautiful deep purple-blue flowers are produced in clusters from the extremities of the lateral shoots. They are very abundantly produced during the season. In color they are of a rich deep purplish-blue, with five conspicuous bands of a lighter hue.
Although this plant is usually described as a greenhouse climber, yet for training on pillars or trellis work in the open air during the summer season its value is beyond all question. Good, strong plants, placed in a well-prepared border, grow with extreme rapidity and great luxuriance, and soon cover an extensive space and produce flowers in immense quantities; and it is a fact worthy of remembrance that this plant will stand our hot, dry summer without sustaining the least injury, and is, moreover, perfectly free from all insect pests.
In order to flower this pretty climber to perfec-tion in the open air during the summer season, a good, strong plant should be placed in a well-prepared border about the tenth of May, where, with a little attention as to training and watering, it will soon produce very satisfactory results. On the approach of frost it can be cut back, taken up and carefully potted, and if placed in the greenhouse in a temperature of 480 or 50° and a light situation, it will be found to be of value for another season.
The Pharbitis can also be grown as a greenhouse climber where it will produce very satisfactory results, if given an abundance of room for its roots, a compost, of two-thirds well-rotted sods, one-third well-rotted manure, and during its season of growth an abundance of water at the roots. At this time also it should be freely and frequently syringed. After its flowering season is over it should be well cut back, and during the winter water should be sparingly given.
The Pharbitis can be easily propagated both by seeds and cuttings; cuttings are best taken from the extremities of the flowering shoots. By this method the plants will flower much sooner, for if the cuttings are taken from the lower branches they will be found to require a considerable quantity of space before they produce many flowers. The seed can be sown in a well-drained pot of light sandy soil at any season of the year, the preferable time being March or April. Keep the soil moist and shade from bright sunshine, and as soon as the young plants become strong enough to handle, carefully transplant into four-inch pots and keep close and moist until well established; then gradually expose to the air, shift into larger pots as often as it is necessary and plant out in the open air, when all danger of frost is over.
[Mr. Parnell does not in the least underrate the beauty of this fine plant and its great merits for summer decoration in American gardens. It belongs to the class popularly known in America as the "Morning Glory," from its early blooming peculiarities. It usually closes before midday. The editor has not seen a plant for many years. His recollection of it as a greenhouse plant is that it was a great favorite with red spider. - Ed. G. M.]