ONE of the most popular plants, among ama-tuers, is Asparagus Sprengeeri. This is perhaps not so much a vine, in the strict sense of the word, as it is a plant of drooping habit. It sends out branches which often reach a length of six and seven feet. These branches put out side-branches, all along their length, and become a thick, heavy mass of foliage, of a bright, dark green. The leaflets being fine and slender, the general effect is one of graceful airiness. Few plants are of easier culture. It succeeds anywhere, under conditions that would discourage ordinary plants. This is one reason of its great popularity. A year-old plant makes a charming decoration for the wall if given a bracket to grow on. Its roots are tuberous in character, and are so freely produced that they soon fill the pot. If not shifted to larger pots, they frequently break the old pot by pressure. The tuberous roots unite at a sort of fleshy crown, from which the new branches are sent out. By cutting this crown apart in such a manner as to secure an "eye," or growing point, with each division made, propagation is an easy matter. It will be found more satisfactory to grow new plants each season than to give old plants the large pots they would require to accommodate their roots. This Asparagus blooms profusely, at certain seasons. Its flowers are small, and not at all conspicuous, but they have a heavy, rich odor with a quality like that of the Cape Jas-imine or Tuberose. They are followed by red berries which make the plant very attractive.
Asparagus plumosus nanus is a variety having foliage so fine and filmy that it looks like mist or lace in its delicacy. Its fronds are quite Fern-like in outline, and because of this the plant is often known as the Asparagus Fern. Young plants make exquisite decorations for table-use. Old plants have a tendency to develop what, in the young plant, is a frond, into a vine that often grows to a length of six, seven, or eight feet, twisting and twining about whatever it comes in contact with.
These old plants are useful for window-decoration, but useless as table ornaments. They can be broken apart, in spring, and each bit of root with an "eye" attached can be made into a new plant.
To grow Asparagus well, give it soil of sandy loam, and depend upon fertilizers in its development rather than large quantities of soil. If the fronds on young plants exhibit a tendency to develop into vines, nip off the ends of them when they have reached the height of a foot. This will cause the side-branches to develop, thus giving the frond the breadth it needs to be most effective. A fine specimen of this variety of Asparagus makes a fine basis for table decoration, with cut flowers inserted between its fronds. I know of no plant with more dainty, graceful foliage, or more charming habit of growth. Few plants do better in the living-room. Shower it frequently to prevent the ravages of the red spider. Water moderately. Give fertilizer only when it is in growing condition. Keep it out of the sun.
The English Ivy is, all things considered, an almost ideal plant. It will stand hot air, dry temperature, and dust as few other plants will. Its foliage is beautiful in color and shape.
When properly cared for, as it develops, it becomes a large plant which improves with age, often attaining a length of twenty or thirty feet, with many branches. It requires less light than any other plant I know of, and can be trained over the walls, along ceiling, and in other places away from direct light, without the injury that results to most other plants plants so treated. Because of its thick, leathery foliage it can be washed without the risk of harm, and therefore it is an easy matter to keep it clean, if its vines are not fastened to the wall in such a manner that removal is difficult. I would suggest inserting screw-hooks in the wall, over which the vines can be slipped. This facilitates easy and quick removal.
Scale is about the only enemy the Ivy has. Treat with the kerosene emulsion, for which a formula is given in the chapter on The Insect Enemies of Plants.
This Ivy can be propagated from cuttings rooted in water.
If a quick-growing vine is desired, and one that will grow to considerable length, the Constance Elliot Passion-Flower will give satisfaction. Feed well and shower frequently. Give plenty of sunshine.
The Madeira Vine is excellent for training up about windows and over screens. This is grown from tubers. Plant in soil of rich sandy loam. This is a vine of very rapid growth, with thick glossy foliage.
Senecio marcoglossus, better known as German Ivy, is another fast-growing vine. It has foliage shaped like that of the English Ivy, but lacks the substance and rich coloring of that variety. Where quick results are desired it will be found a useful plant.