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.
I have now under my care, growing in a cool conservatory, and gradually covering a good portion of the roof, a plant of this fine greenhouse twiner. It came into my hands in 1865, and was then a plant about 18 inches in height, growing in a 48-pot. I planted it at the south-west corner of the conservatory, in a spot which gets some shade at the latter part of the day; and to receive the roots, I made a small pit or tank, about 3 feet in length by 1 foot in width, and edged it with stone. The pit was made about 18 inches in depth, and one-third of it filled with brick-rubble for drainage. The Lapageria was then planted in some bog-peat, as 6pongy as I could get it, with which was mingled some rough sand. It soon began to grow, and flowered for the first time in 1868; since then it has bloomed yearly; and as the plant increases in size and strength, the flowers not only become more numerous, but larger and of finer quality.
My mode of treatment is as simple as it appears to be effectual. During the summer, at the growing season, I water plentifully; during the winter, when at rest, it is watered only occasionally - just enough to keep the soil moist. Occasionally I top-dress the plant with peat and sand as required; the constant watering during summer tends to wash away the soil from the roots. It is well to thoroughly top-dress at the beginning of winter, just as the summer supply of water is withheld; then the newly-added soil gets pretty well settled about the roots by the time growth commences in the spring.
I get a supply of flowers about nine months in the year; and it seeds freely, some of the pods hanging on the plant for a considerable time. The plant makes vigorous growth, and during the past summer has made shoots 16 feet in length. It has been in robust health, and made wood freely.
I find it necessary to shield the young growing shoots from the attacks of woodlice and snails or slugs. These young shoots come up through the ground of a character similar to those of the Asparagus; and as soon as there is a slug or a wood-louse in the house, it will find its way to it, and eat away the tip of the shoots. If this happens, the growth of the shoot is checked directly, and it rarely if ever starts again. As soon as I perceive a shoot coming through the soil, I place a lamp-glass over it, and keep it there till it has made sufficient growth to be out of reach of the foes.
I think a very pretty effect could be secured by blending the white with the rose-coloured variety in the interior of the roof of a suitable house. At present the former is very scarce and expensive; when it becomes cheaper, it will no doubt be grown as much as the other and older form. George Vennee.
The Grove Gardens, Hanwell.