This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
This beautiful plant, commonly known as Smilax, is from the Cape of Good Hope; the word Myrsiphyllum means myrtle-leaved. It is now used in the cities for decorating, and as greens for bouquets, to such an extent that there is a great demand for it by our city florists. It is very easily cultivated, the seed being sown in boxes of light but rich soil in August and placed in a close and shaded greenhouse. I saw at one time seed sown in two boxes, one box being placed in a close house, the seed in it germinating very well; the other box was put in a hot-bed, the heat being 95°; there it remained for eight weeks, only five or six seeds germinating; supposing the balance of the seed had decayed, the box was taken out of the hot-bed and placed with the first box - in less than a week every seed germinated, and grew at a rapid rate, soon outstripping the first box. When large enough they should at once be potted off in two-inch pots and placed in a warm house, and kept growing until early spring, when they want a rest, for, it must be remembered, they belong to the Lily family; after gradually drying them out, place under the bench, turning the pots on their sides.
The first of August they will begin to show life by throwing up long slender shoots, of a light purple color, and looking somewhat like asparagus. They are now just one year old, and want planting out or potting; if they are desired for " cut flowers," by all means plant them out, they are tremendous feeders, want plenty of room and plenty of water to bring them to perfection. Plant in soil composed of two parts rich manure, two parts good loam, one part old sods, and one part sand; give plenty of water, never allowing them to become dry; their two greatest enemies are drought and red spider, either of which causes them to drop their leaves, and then they are worthless for cut flowers. Each plant will throw up six or eight shoots, and will want strings to hold them up; twine three or four shoots to one string, and when they have grown to the height of five or six feet they are ready for market, each string being worth at wholesale about twenty-five cents. After they are all cut, dry off gradually, and give a slight top-dressing of fine but strong manure. Each following year they will increase in value, throwing up more and stronger shoots. While growing, they should be often syringed, and occasionally watered with liquid manure, after being diluted.
The second winter from seed they will flower and produce seed. The flowers are greenish white and very fragrant, though small. The berry grows to the size of an English pea, and when ripe - in August - is a light red color, containing three or four seeds, which are hard and black.