Old-fashioned Impatiens - Busy Lizzie

marguerite_gwJuly 2, 2012

I wonder does anyone in Europe or the UK know of anyone who sells this very old-fashioned and once common plant. It is not the seed-grown one, but the tall, gangly type which was passed from person to person as cuttings. The flowers were usually pink, sometimes white, almost always single. I myself was given one by a new neighbour when I moved into my new home after I married, back in the 1970s. A correspondent in the UK very kindly sent me one a few years back after I advertised in European Plant Exchange here on Garden Web. I lost mine, and subsequently so did he. If anyone knows where one could be found for him, I would be very grateful indeed.

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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I hope you don't mean this kind.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 3:48PM
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alavoneluvhoya

@ purple meee neither we sell these outside in our shop and they need 100% shade or the look crazy!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 4:56PM
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marguerite_gw

No, purpleinopp, not the bedding plants grown from seed. They are Impatiens walleriana, but not those hybrids that branch early and have a spreading habit. The closest I have found are what are called over here Safari F2 hybrids. I've been growing them in the hope that one appears like the old-fashioned type. They were somehow rougher looking, the stems were almost transparent, and looked as if they were full of water. They grew quite tall and the branches could be quite thick. Maybe they weren't grown much in the US, but in an old American book I found them described as Patient Lucy.

Our busy lizzies are so far fine, despite the very wet weather we've been having. A gardener on national radio advised a milk and water solution if the mildew did appear. I don't know if anyone here has heard of that remedy.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 5:34PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Ok good. There's also New Guinea Impatiens and Impatiens balsamina.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 6:57PM
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amccour

Impatiens work as house plants?

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 12:58AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

marguerite - I know exactly the plant you mean. They had those lurid pink fluorescent flowers with a sort of unnatural sheen and stems that looked like greeny beige glass. Everyone's Mum had one passed on from a friend and rooted in a jam jar on the windowsill. We had one for several years about three foot tall like a little tree. I'd not really thought about it but it's true, I haven't seen one for years! It's intriguing what has happened to them when they were once so common. I will definitely keep my eyes open and come back to you if I see one. Are you the same person who has been asking about them on other websites?

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 7:53AM
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marguerite_gw

Hi flora, thank goodness someone knows the plant I mean! That is it! I have been looking for it privately, I'm not sure if I looked for it on other websites, but it could be my friend from the UK for whom I am searching for this everywhere. I had a post on European Garden Exchange years ago and he responded with a plant...I really would like to get one for him now. He was using them to grow seedlings and hopefully produce other colours.

purpleinopp, I know of course the New Guinea impatiens, they are a different breed, and Impatiens balsamina is a separate species too.

amccour, the bedding impatiens make terrific house plants, I always have one or two in the house, they are non-stop bloomers.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 10:50AM
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amccour

marguerite, what about New Guinea impatiens indoors? Those have attractive stem morphology and coloration!

Also whatever variety you're talking about sounds lovely. Godspeed in finding it, and make sure to report it back here so that we may start demanding stores carry it again :)

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 9:26PM
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marguerite_gw

Hi amccour, yes, I know the New Guinea hybrids, they are lovely and I have grown them indoors, they don't seem to flower quite as long as the old type I'm looking for, but they are also a different species. The old type was usually passed on as cuttings, and you would never find it in a conventional store, sometimes in a garden sale or at a country market, any I asked never have it now and couldn't help.

Flora, I emailed you, I hope it arrived, because there seemed to be a glitch and it took a few minutes to get a message saying it had gone successfully.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 10:41AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Marguerite - I have emailed around work to see if anyone has one. My email on here is non-functioning so leave a message in the thread if you need to. Have you asked the RHS? Or schools? There always seemed to be jars of them rooting in science labs. Flora.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 12:32PM
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birdsnblooms

Amccour. Some Impatiens do better than other.

I. Morsei

Pic above taken Nov 2011

Morsei was purchased spring of that year.

Marguerite, a US seller on Ebay sells Busy Lizzie, but don't know if he ships out of state...Toni

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 12:57PM
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marguerite_gw

Thanks, Flora, will do.

Hi Toni, what a lovely plant. Are you saying it's the busy lizzie we are looking for that the seller you mentioned has? Do you call all impatiens 'busy lizzie' over there?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 2:45PM
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birdsnblooms

Hi Marguerite,

Many, outdoor gardeners still call 'ALL' Impatiens, Busy Lizzies, lol

I just checked Ebay, but the seller either isn't carrying or run out of Impatiens listed as Busy Lizzie. He usually has other Impatiens varieties too, but he's out of all Impatiens at the time.

His store name is Funny Farm Herbs. Toni

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 3:07PM
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marguerite_gw

Thanks indeed, Toni. I just wanted to take a look, I'm sure I couldn't get them from the US. Never mind, patience is a virtue etc..

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 5:07PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Hi again Marguerite - I am still looking. This is so intriguing. What has happened to them all? I have found an interesting tit-bit on the attached blog. 4th paragraph.

Here is a link that might be useful: Busy Lizzies

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 8:22AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Does the mildew disease only affect I. walleriana or all of them?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 9:46AM
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birdsnblooms

Marguerite. Why not? lol. I've purchased plants from China, Malaysia and Thailand...Got seeds from Australia.

Where there's a will there's a way..:)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 11:16AM
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marguerite_gw

Hi purpleinopp, yes, the mildew only affects Impatiens walleriana, apparently. The New Guinea hybrids, for example, are immune.

Toni, the seller would have to provide a phytosanitary certificate and not many of them want the bother of that. Seeds might not turn out to be the required type.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 3:26PM
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marguerite_gw

Flora, thanks so much for that link. It is terrible to think how much we took the busy lizzie for granted and now we may lose them. I suppose we should extend that thought to other common plants and appreciate them more.

I agree it is very strange, where are all that old type gone?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 3:30PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Well I am extremely intrigued by this thread. I think I've followed all of the entries but still don't know what plant this discussion is about. What did I miss?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 2:26PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Hi again, Marguerite. The good news is ...... my colleague has brought me a bunch of cuttings. She says she's had the plant for around 30 years and got it from her sister so I think it's the right one.

The bad news is .... I forgot them and they are still under my desk at work. Watch this space.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 4:51PM
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marguerite_gw

Flora,

You are one good hunter. That is wonderful news. I am going to contact my friend immediately. Thank you so much for the effort. I suppose the cuttings are going to be really glad of a drink in the morning!

purpleinopp,

I have been looking without success for a photo of this particular busy lizzie. I'll keep on trying.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 5:41PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Ok. I just wanted to know the botanical name, sorry for butting in. This is interesting!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 10:04AM
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marguerite_gw

purpleinopp,

No way are you butting in, I hope I didn't make you feel you were somehow. As far as I know the botanical name is Impatiens walleriana, the same as the F1 and F2 hybrids that you buy in garden shops. I'm not sure if it was the original species or some kind of hybrid itself, because it was always grown from cuttings. I have grown some F2 hybrids this year from seed, and one turned out quite variegated, while one I have in the house has a very faint paler green around the borders of all leaves. I'll have to take a pic of this and post it here, it would be a shame if the bug got it. But one thing Flora mentioned, and I think I did too, is the transparency of the old plant stems. They have a really watery appearance, more, I would say, than the seedlings have. I've been searching through all my old houseplant books to find a picture for you to show what I mean.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 11:46AM
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marguerite_gw

At last we have a picture of the old-fashioned busy lizzie. It's from an Australian nursery, found by my gardening friend who is hunting for it everywhere:

http://lepidoptera.butterflyhouse.com.au

The plant is quite tall, so this is obviously a view from the top.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 6:32PM
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marguerite_gw

At last we have a picture of the old-fashioned busy lizzie. It's from an Australian nursery, found by my gardening friend who is hunting for it everywhere:

http://lepidoptera.butterflyhouse.com.au

The plant is quite tall, so this is obviously a view from the top.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 6:33PM
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marguerite_gw

Oh, lordie, I don't know how I posted twice! Sorry about that.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 6:34PM
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marguerite_gw

Now here is my busy lizzie grown from Safari F2 hybrid seed, on the kitchen window sill. The flowers are much larger than the old-fashioned type, but some of the seedlings had quite small flowers.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 7:31PM
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marguerite_gw

Here is another picture of the same plant, the one grown from Safari F2 hybrid seed.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 7:39PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Marguerite - I though I had posted again but it seems not. I have the cuttings at home now in water. What do you want me to do with them??

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 5:50AM
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marguerite_gw

Thanks so much for the post, Flora. Would it be possible for me to put you in touch with my garden friend in UK who is looking for the plant?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 9:23AM
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marguerite_gw

Hi again, Flora. If you would be kind enough to write to me, I can put you in touch with my friend who is looking for the busy lizzie. Perhaps you could also let me know if you are looking for anything in particular, and I will see if I have it or will find it for you.

Many thanks.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 10:57AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Marguerite - I have emailed you.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 9:30AM
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marguerite_gw

Thank you, Flora. Both Mark and I have emailed back to you but they were both returned undeliverable. Would your inbox be full, by any chance?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 3:30PM
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marguerite_gw

Many thanks, Flora, for all the help.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 10:14AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

If anyone was following this thread three rooted cuttings of the old-fashioned Impatiens in question obtained from a work colleague of mine have been posted to Marguerite's original contact. Rather a round about method of locating them via a US based website but they are actually going to a spot a mile across the water from where I grew up. Flora.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 4:36PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I love a happy ending!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 12:02PM
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marguerite_gw

And I love the generosity and helpfulness of GW members, and in particular at this moment, Flora. Many thanks for all your thoughtfulness, Flora.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 3:31PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Happy ending. The Busy Lizzies have arrived safely and are now growing happily in their new home. (I do like a puzzle, Marguerite - it was fun.)

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 9:35AM
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marguerite_gw

Flora, you are the best!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 1:05PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

I had one years ago, marguerite posted a pic of it above. Glassy green watery stems, single pink stems, dead easy to grow.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 10:18AM
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DavidmGeary(9)

Is this the one your lookin for ..if it is let me know i have plenty of cuttings you can have.. Regards David from Cork

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 5:22PM
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averil(8b)

Hi folks I do know someone sells cuttings of these on ebay uk now and again but they are a tad dear. It is a shame you don't see them now
Regards
Averil

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 3:22PM
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averil(8b)

Hi folks I do know someone sells cuttings of these on ebay uk now and again but they are a tad dear. It is a shame you don't see them now
Regards
Averil

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 3:23PM
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averil(8b)

Marguerite, I hope you don't mind me asking but where did you buy the seeds for your hybrid 2 bizz liz? I haven't seen one like that before?
Regards
Averil

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 3:26PM
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averil(8b)

Marguerite, I hope you don't mind me asking but where did you buy the seeds for your hybrid 2 bizz liz? I haven't seen one like that before?
Regards
Averil

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 3:27PM
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marguerite_gw

Hi David, the colour looks right although the flowers seem larger on yours, perhaps you just take better care of it. Years ago it also occasionally came in white and a double pink, and all grew very tall.

Averil, the one in the photos was froma packet of Safari F1 hybrids. They all became ill that same summer and died fairly rapidly. The 'old-fashioned' one, which my friend sent me cuttings of when he grew on the cuttings from Flora, seems immune to illness, although I'm growing on new cuttings now which I had saved from my big one, which got some frost in a tunnel during last winter. I was unwell and hospitalised and couldn't keep an eye on it, but I mean to keep it safe indoors next winter.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 4:32PM
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averil(8b)

Thanks marguerite, I shall seek some out

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 5:51AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Hi again, Marguerite - do you know how the cuttings are doing on the Isle of Wight?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 5:46AM
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marguerite_gw

Hi Flora,

I notice you're in the US now! It's been some time since I heard from this gardening friend, and when he didn't respond to my last e-mails, I was becoming ill and didn't press it. I know he generously sent me a couple of your cuttings which I lost though rooted, when I was hospitalised. Fortunately I had a small cutting in the kitchen in a glass of water and am propagating from that plant now. I had promised one to the Botanic Gardens and am trying to get a good, big worthwhile one for them. Hopefully the Isle of Wight is full of all shades of our Busy Lizzie now, if I hear any more I will let you know.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 4:11PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Hi Marguerite - no I'm not in the US. Thanks for drawing my attention to that. My location seems to have defaulted to US. I'll try to change it.

Sorry to hear you've been under the weather but good that that you are back home with your plants now.

p.s. Well I have managed to change my location to UK but only by saying I also live in Kansas and putting in a made up Zip Code. The form lets you put in all sorts of countries but can't cope with the idea of people having non-US addresses.

This post was edited by floral_uk on Wed, Jun 18, 14 at 16:53

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 4:36PM
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marguerite_gw

That's funny, Flora ! :)

I tried to change my profile several times over the last few years, but it stays the same ! I also tried to contact GW on their contact form but never hear back.
Ah well, it's still a great resource, I've been coming here years, since Spike's time. Anyone remember Spike?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 8:11AM
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lizziejm12

Hi I was wondering is this what your talking about? This is from a snippet of a plant my mother bought over 35yrs ago!!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 8:17PM
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lauraeli_

Where are you guys at? You are referring to impatiens walleriana? Or no?

The reason I am wondering is because it is a very common bedding plant where I live. The taller varieties are a little less common but I overwintered mine this past winter (dont ask me why) and it is doing great. It grows like a weed. I had to put it outside because it was getting too big to be inside.

I might get a picture tomorrow and post it. We had a heavy downfall during a severe storm a few days ago so it lost a lot of blooms but it is still pretty.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 10:24PM
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lauraeli_

This was during the winter. I had cut it back to maybe 5 inches at the beginning of winter and it was growing back out. But it gets very tall. I havent measured it but the one outside is probably over 18 inches.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 10:59PM
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lizziejm12

I'm in Kildare, ireland, mine is really tall it must be 3ft (according to my husband) if anyone would like a snippet pls ask

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 7:01AM
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marguerite_gw

I find it really hard to tell from a picture the old-fashioned busy lizzie from the more modern seed-grown ones.

I have noticed a few things: the leaves on the older type seem shinier; the older plant guttates a lot; the stem gets very thick at the base as the plant grows; the stalks and stem seem more transparent; the stems are less lax; the flowers on the older type plant seem smaller in proportion to the leaves, and also not as round in shape.

As for height, that is not a great help with making the identification, in my opinion, as some of the modern type do get quite tall.

However, I now must wait until my rooted cuttings become plants and are flowering abundantly, so I can show what I mean beside a pic of a more modern plant.

Some seed grown busy lizzies do get quite tall, so that is not a huge help with identification.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 12:39PM
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lauraeli_

Is there a reason for the preference for the old fashioned type? Mine makes an excellent houseplant, I have found.

Though when I bring it inside in the fall, I will just be taking cuttings and I will probably keep it down to two cuttings in a pot. Four is very bushy and ends up taking up too much space.

Plants that take up a lot of space here have to be able to withstand being bumped into and brushed up against.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 2:09PM
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marguerite_gw

It wasn't a matter of preference, Lauraeli. Our friend in the UK breeds Busy Lizzies, and wanted to get back to the original plant, not to be using the hybrids available on the market. Maybe there would be plant rights issues too, I don't know. Anyway he lost his original stock, from which he had sent me a plant, and corresponded with me in the hope I had the one he sent me still, which sadly I hadn't through a major attack of greenfly. It may be all for the best, because the plants Flora very kindly found for him seem much stronger altogether.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 3:56PM
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DavidmGeary(9)

Old Fashioned tall pink busy Lizzies ....flowers are about the size of a one euro coin much smaller than its leafs ....its stalk is thick at the base and translucent at the top...its from a cutting ...i have never seen any of my plants go to seed...

    Bookmark   January 13, 2015 at 7:38AM
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DavidmGeary(9)

This is a close up...

    Bookmark   January 13, 2015 at 10:38AM
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grimesel1993

Is there any chance I could purchase a cutting of the old fashion variety from someone? I love collecting old pass a long plants. I love finding stuff like this!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2015 at 11:07PM
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DavidmGeary(9)

Im giving these cuttings away to anyone who can give them a good home...

    Bookmark   January 17, 2015 at 9:40AM
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grimesel1993

Where are you located? Would they travel via Mail? I can pay for postage or anything like that.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2015 at 11:17AM
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marguerite_gw

Lizziejm, I don't know if you still call in here, I tried to write to you but there's no e-mail, I was wondering how far from a window you keep your plant? I see there is some reflected light behind it. My reason for asking is that years ago many people grew this plant away from a window, which is unusual for a flowering plant, do you keep yours there always?

    Bookmark   January 19, 2015 at 7:53AM
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DavidmGeary(9)

Im living in cork city in Ireland ....i reckon the best way is to pot up a few cuttings and send it via courier or special delivery service where are you living grimesel 1993......

    Bookmark   January 21, 2015 at 2:18PM
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grimesel1993

I love in a tiny town in Virginia! Do you think it would make it that far?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2015 at 3:35PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

I posted the ones to the Isle of Wight wrapped in damp tissue and packed into a whisky cylinder. Apparently they arrived in perfect condition but that was within the UK, so a short trip and no risk of freezing in some postal depot in a N American winter. I suspect there may be import restrictions on plants going to the US.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2015 at 4:54PM
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