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.
When Flora has once smitten the heart of man at any period of his life, especially in his youth, and the force of circumstances carries him from those higher orders of her gorgeous attractions - when he has to bid adieu to those splendid temples at whose altar he has oft worshipped and contributed his mite, it is not time that can efface from the heart or the memory, the beautiful forms that have been presented at the shrine of the "fair god-dess".
No, not time, we say, for years may roll on - the physical system may droop, but the memory, ever fresh and green, revels in the reminiscences of the past, and the lovely forms spring into ideal life before him, and his heart gladdens at the appearance of some beauty long lost to his vision.
Thus we see before us the beautiful Luculia; and with all thy age, we "love thee still," Luculia gratissima!
Being suddenly aroused from this ideality with all the vivid splendor of this plant on our mind, we propose telling our amateur friends something about it; and giving our florists a hint in reference to its good qualifications as an attractive, ready-selling plant. Those unacquainted with this plant will be most likely to inquire, what is it like? Do you know the old and much esteemed "Hydrangea Hortensis? Yes. Well, it resembles that plant very much, with this exception: the texture of the foliage being much finer, and the color a lighter green; the large heads of flowers being of a lovely rose color, and highly fragrant.
To be able to appreciate this noble plant adequately, it is requisite to behold it in all its splendor; then the sight never can be forgotten. We remember once standing by the side of a most magnificent specimen, some eight feet high, and nearly as much in its diameter (at Chiswick), literally covered with its fragrant rose-colored blooms. We also recollect one of the fair sex taking particular notice of the various plants in passing the tables, till she came suddenly on our favorite, when all at once she threw up both her arms and exclaimed, "Oh 1 oh I is it possible, - can I believe my own eyes!" We expected she would have fainted with ecstacy. The Lu-culia has generally been considered difficult to propagate and flower; so has the Hydrangea as a pot bloomer; growing too large and oftentimes not flowering at all. This is the character it generally bears, but with our mode of management we never encountered this difficulty. For example, we have a number of the Hydrangeas growing in open borders: about the end of September take off the ends of the shoots that are well ripened, with the green foliage on, (three or four joints long), place them in a close frame with a little bottom heat, and in ten to twelve days they are struck; pot into three-inch pots, and when they fill these small pots with roots they drop the leaf.
They can be packed away through the winter similar to vines; not allowing them to get too dry, or they will die like anything else. In the spring when you require to start them, bring out to the light, and give a good soaking of water; do not re-pot, but let them grow in the small pot that they were stored away in through the winter, and generally at the second or third new wood joint they will show the bloom heads; then repot into a five or six-inch pot, as you please, and make the compost just as rich as it is possible, and afterwards water with plenty of good guano (if such a thing is to be got); and the ultimate of this process will be heads of flowers measuring twelve to fifteen inches over, on plants in five-inch pots a little over twelve inches in height. When the soil is strongly impregnated with iron, the color of the flower changes to blue. Iron filings mixed through the potting will answer the same purpose. Now, in. reference to the Luculia, the cuttings are managed in the same way, with this exception, that we keep them in a greenhouse through the winter on a shelf,' rather than a cellar or under a stage, as in the case of Hydrangeas.
There is another mode by which the Luculia is very easily propagated. Take frames, or pits, put in plenty of good compost, and plant out the Luculia, and as it grows, layer it, similar to the carnation, either in small pots plunged into the soil, or in the soil itself. They root in a very short time, can be taken up, potted into small pots and managed as the cuttings. The stool plant continues growing rapidly, yielding a fresh supply for layers. We have taken several hundred young plants in the season, from three or four stool plants in this way. They will also emit roots freely, if growing in a high moist temperature, by notching the branches, tying moss on the parts and keeping it moist. They strike freely into the moss. This of course is only another method of layering. The two plants grown and flowered together in this way form a charming sight, and command a ready sale.
Won't some of our florists try this modus operandi with the Luculia and the Hydrangea?