This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
When well grown this is a most graceful plant for table decoration, and deserves to be cultivated as such. Plants grown in 5-inch pots, furnished with from twelve to sixteen whorls about 18 inches high, are an admirable size for the table. Even plants with fewer stalks are much admired; they by no means obstruct the view across or from end to end of the table. C. alternifolius variegatus is more admired by some; but it cannot be utilised to the same extent as the former, on account of it losing its variegation when propagated by cuttings. When otherwise propagated they are not so equally developed and well furnished. The crowns of the latter are divided, as a means of preserving the variegation; and it is thought by some, that when soil is light and somewhat impoverished with sand, the foliage is the whiter. Neither is the absence of variegation felt on the dinner-table; surrounded with plate, and mostly every other thing of a light colour, makes the grassy-green of C. alternifolius preferable - it contrasts so well with everything on the table.
For propagation, the whorl is taken, with 6 or 8 inches of the stalk, and thrown into the water-tank in the stove, and kept in the water till it emits roots and begins to send up young leaves; or put into a watering-pot full of water and kept in some corner of the stove. The pot is preferable, as it is less subject to a change of temperature.
When young roots and leaves appear, they are taken from the water, and the stalks are shortened to within 2 inches of the whorl. The whorl is drawn through the hand, bringing the points of the leaves together, which are shortened the same as the stalk. They are then inserted in the bed of the propagating-pit; the hole is made sufficient to admit of the young roots; the cutting is put in stalk downward; the whorl is bent upward, forming a cup, which is filled with the sand of the bed, and sufficiently watered to firm the whole together. The proper depth for the cuttings is, centre of whorl half an inch below the surface. The bottom-heat is from 75° to 80o always giving a liberal supply of water.
A few weeks will make them ready for being put into 3-inch potsr and placed in the stove till June. When they are finally shifted into 5-inch pots, the ordinary compost of loam, leaf-mould, and sand suits them admirably; and they can be grown throughout the summer in a gentle hot-bed. The pots are plunged to the rim, allowing the plants plenty of room to spread their whorls; and turning them round every second day induces a symmetrical growth, and prevents the roots getting a firm hold of the bed.
Cuttings taken in March or April, and grown as recommended, will be ready for table decoration by the end of August.