This section is from the book "The Gardener V2", 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.
The above is a plant that no collection, however small, should be without one or more of; it is one of the most serviceable greenhouse plants we have, either for house, table, or conservatory decoration, and a well-flowered specimen is unsurpassed as an exhibition plant. With proper management it can be had in flower at almost any time of the year, and with relays of plants, forced on at sufficient intervals, or retarded, as the case may be, they may be had in flower all the year round. Though it stands forcing well, and, indeed, is often grown in the stove, it is in reality a cool greenhouse plant. It belongs to the order Ama-rallidaceae; but, like the Vallota purpurata, is evergreen. The leaves are of a deep green, broad and stout at the base, and slightly tapering towards the point; they are arranged in two rows, springing from the bulb, and are about 2 feet long. The flowers are borne in umbels of from ten to twenty blossoms on a stout stem, which rises from the centre of the leaves to about the same height. Each flower is about 2 inches across the mouth, of a deep orange colour, somewhat shaded with vermilion.
The plant may be either grown from seed or increased by division of the roots : the latter method is that generally adopted, and is the best where it is desired to keep the variety pure; as, like most other plants, they have a tendency to vary when grown from seed. Good strong bulbs, planted singly in 5- or 6-inch pots, make most desirable plants for house or table work, or for vases, for which it is admirably adapted; and of course, if specimen plants are desired, a number should be arranged in large pots, suiting the number to the size of pot. They are robust, strong-rooting plants, and therefore require good strong soil, and plenty of water during their growing season. Good fibry loam, with a sprinkling of sharp sand, and some old cow-manure incorporated with it, will suit them well; or a compost consisting of equal parts of loam and peat, with a handful of bone-meal and a due proportion of sand, will suit them equally well. In wintering them they should be kept as nearly as possible in a temperature of from 45° to 50°.