This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
What vast numbers of very beautiful flowers of this interesting tribe; of plants are raised from seeds annually ! But what becomes of them afterwards? There is not one in twenty we either see or hear of the succeeding season ! Before I attempt to supply an answer to this question, let me put another which is closely connected therewith: "Why is it that seedlings are so much more easy of culture than plants propagated by cuttings? Almost any person can grow a crop of seedlings; but few are successful in the cultivation of propagated plants. I am of opinion that the species of Calceolaria now in general cultivation as a greenhouse plant is more allied to an annual than a perennial; for after the seedling plant has done blooming - if it has bloomed freely, which it generally does, it becomes nearly exhausted and difficult to propagate, and the bloom the ensuing season invariably degenerates. These observations I submit as an answer to the above questions.
In selecting seedlings for future propagation, I do not think sufficient attention is paid to the habit of the plant; for no matter how perfect the flower may be in shape, or how beautiful in colour and markings, if the plant is not of strong habit, and the flower of good substance, it ought to be thrown out immediately, or it will be sure to yield you disappointment the ensuing season; for what would it profit you, provided the flower did retain its character, if the habit of the plant was weak and bad, as you could not get a specimen worth looking at? I would not even retain such a plant for the purpose of impregnating other flowers with for the sake of its striking colours; for this season I have noticed among my seedlings, that a great majority of them possess eminently more of the habit and properties of the plant with which the parent was impregnated, than they do of the plant from which the seed was gathered. This, therefore, I think, shews the necessity of selecting and procuring for the purpose of impregnating and saving seed from, such plants only as possess free habit and the best properties to which we have attained; and retaining no seedlings but those of like merit.
Whether the Calceolaria should be shrubby, half-shrubby, or herbaceous, is a point on which "doctors differ;" but we are, I doubt not, all agreed that the plant should be of free and robust growth, the foliage green and luxuriant, and the stem strong, branching, and graceful.
In some future Number, I propose, with your permission, giving a list of a few good Calceolarias, with remarks on the habit and characters of the respective varieties enumerated.
Whitby, 10th June, 1850. M. Woodhouse.