These houses are devoted principally to the propagation or starting of plants, especially those grown from cuttings. As cuttings require little direct sunlight, these houses were often erected on the shady (north) side of other greenhouses or in out-of-the-way places. They are often equipped with benches, with “bottom heat” supplied by heating pipes.
Thomas Messenger’s involvement with propagating houses appears to have been limited to only two during the period between 1867 and 1874. The first was an estimate of £696 for Edward Holmes of Whittington Nursery, Whittington, Staffordshire, for three pairs of houses, comprising of two vineries, one stove, one propagating house and three plant houses.
In 1874, he provided beds for propagating house at the Glasgow Royal Botanic Gardens. It is unclear whether this house was pre-existing or part of the order that Thomas Messenger won November 9th, 1874, which was completed after he sold the business. The slate beds, priced at 18 guineas were 94ft. by 3ft. with slate fronts on wood bearers, with iron brackets and pillars about every 4ft. The price included 2 iron ventilators, 2.5 per cent commission and 5 days fixing for a joiner.