This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The fine foliage, excellent habit, and large loose spreading heads of light blue flowers, which terminate every shoot of this plant, make it exceedingly attractive; and its season of blooming, winter and early spring, when blue flowers are scarce, merits for it a place in every collection of plants.
This is an excellenct time for commencing its culture, as a good specimen of it may be grown in the coarse of the summer. When received it should be placed in a dose pit or house, keeping it near the glass, and as soon as it has got over the effects of traveling; shift it into a pot two sices larger then that in which it has been growing. For soil use good rich turfy loam, fibry peas, and well decayed leaf soil in about equal proportions, adding a sufficient quantity of clean sharp sand to ensure perfect drainage, and a small quantity of thoroughly decayed cow manure mas/ also bo added with advantage. Be careful to have the ball and soil in a nice moist healthy state when the plant is shifted, and place it in a close moist warm situation, to avoid the necessity of giving much water at the root until free growth shell have commenced. Sprinkle the plant morning and evening with the syringe, and maintain a humid atmosphere; also keep it as near the glass as is convenient, in order to induce a vigorous start When it is evident that the roots have taken hold of the fresh soil, stop the shoots, and tie them out, so as to induce the lower bUds to push, in order to obtain a well-furnished foundation. Continue to afford the plant the temperature so as to secure strong close-jointed shoots.
If all goes on well, a second shift will be required towards the middle or end of May, and this should not be deferred until the roots get matted, or the plant sustains any check for want of pot room. There will be no danger in giving a large shift now, but beginners will be safer to give only a moderate one, for there is some danger of erring in watering a plant, when it is surrounded by a large body of loose soil, and therefore it is better to give two moderate shifts. Attend to keeping the shoots nicely tied out, in order to admit light and air to the foliage, and to secure a compact sturdy habit of growth.
During summer, the plant, if in vigorous health, may be removed to a cold pit or frame, which can be kept close and moist But the very best position for securing rapid, strong growth, would be a pit where a bottom-heat of 80© or 85° could be maintained, and where the plant could be kept near the glass, keeping the atmosphere rather cool, and affording it a slight shade for a few hours on the forenoons of very bright days. Here it would grow very rapidly, and a frame and a little fermenting material properly put together might be easily made to afford a gentle bottom-heat for two or three months, and would be useful for many plants besides this. Attend during the growing season to keeping the shoots nicely tied out, stopping them as maybe necessary, and also to shifting as may be required. Stopping, however, should not be practiced later in the season than will allow of getting the last growth well ripened before winter; and if the shoots are kept properly tied out, and the plant well managed otherwise, very little stopping will be necessary to secure compact bushy specimens.
When damp cloudy weather occurs in autumn, the plant should be removed to a rather dry atmosphere, where the temperature may average about 55°, placing it near the glass, and it should be rather sparingly supplied with water for a few weeks, in order to get the wood well ripened, which will greatly conduce to a fine display of bloom. By removing the plant to a warmer situation, and giving a liberal supply of water at the root, it will soon develop its beauty, and may be placed in the conservatory while in flower. Care must be observed, however, not to place it in the way of cold draughts, and a damp stagnant atmosphere must be guarded against, as this would soon destroy the blossom, and greatly impair the beauty of the plant.
If afforded a close dry situation, the flowers will remain some two months in perfection, and will present a striking and agreeable contrast with those of most winter-blooming plants. After the flowering, the plant may be cut back rather closely, and removed to a cool dry situation for a few weeks, keeping it sparingly supplied with water until it shows indications of growth; when it should be repotted, slightly reducing the old ball, and clearing away a portion of the old exhausted soil The same treatment as recommended above may be repeated, and will produce an immense specimen in course of the second season. Cuttings selected of firm bits of the young wood, and treated in the ordinary way, will root very freely in bottom heat. But the plant will bear cutting back and disrooting to any extent; so that when once a stock is obtained, there will be little necessity for propagating it - Alpha, in Gard Chronicle.