This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The excellent Franciscea, Franciscea exima, is a very beautiful evergreen stove or warm greenhouse shrub belonging to the natural order Scroph-ulariacaea. It is a native of Brazil, where it was found in the province of St. Paul growing in the shady parts of the untrodden forests. It was discovered by M. Libon; a collector in the employment of M. de Jonghe, of Brussels, and was introduced into Belgium in 1847. It is a shrub of erect habit, growing from three to five feet in height, and having lanceolate, dull green leaves from three to six inches long and an inch or two in width. It first flowered in Europe in March, 1849. The flowers are produced in loose cymes, three or four together; they are about three inches in diameter, and are of a deep violet or purple color, but, like others of the genus, soon after their expansion change to white. This is one of those grand old plants that are at the present time so scarce and rare, but is deserving of being introduced into all choice collections, combining as it does beauty of flower, as well as fragrance. It is also a very free flowering variety. It commences to flower in January, and during that month is at its best, but if properly cared for will flower more or less until May. Small plants will also flower freely.
This Franciscea is a plant easily cultivated.
It requires a winter temperature of from 50° to 55°, a compost of two-thirds fibry soil and one-third well decayed manure or leaf mould; good drainage is also indispensable. When at rest, water sparingly, but when growing it must have a liberal supply. At this time a frequent use of the syringe will also be beneficial, and it will now do best in partial shade.
During the summer season the plants do best if planted out in a rich, deep border, in partial shade, care being taken as to watering, or the pots can be plunged; but I prefer to plant them out. They not only do better, but do not require so much attention.
Propagation is effected by cuttings of the young shoots placed in sand with a gentle bottom heat, or by seeds, which it occasionally produces. To increase the Franciscea, however, requires the exercise of a little skill and considerable patience, so amateurs and inexperienced persons had better secure plants which may be procured at reasonable prices of any of our leading florists.
Queens, L. I., Dec. 10th, 1883.