On the stage are two circular stands with feet, hung with rich cloth, embroidered and fringed in gold. On each is a small flower-pot, on a support, which is constructed so as to lift the pot a little above the top of the stand.
The performer demonstrates that the pots are empty, then places in each a little white sand — just enough to plant a few seeds in. S/he takes a large, narrow cone-shaped object (open at both ends), and after showing that it is empty, places it over one of the pots. When it's removed, a green sprig is seen to be growing in the pot! The cone is then placed over the second pot, and when removed there is a rosebush there! Finally, the cone is placed over the first pot and likewise produces a rosebush when removed.
The rosebuds and roses are cut from the bushes and handed out to the audience — demonstrating that they are alive.
The two rose bushes consist of twigs and sprays, tied to a heavy circular support, which is of the correct size to fit snugly into the flower-pots. The cloth covering the stands is actually open at the back. Hidden by the cloth under each stand is another cone: that under the first stand is a little smaller than the one which the audience sees, and that under the second stand is a little smaller again. The two rose bushes are suspended in these two hidden cones at the start of the illusion, secured by a thread to a hook inside the top of the cone.
To start the sprig growing in the first pot, the performer palms something that LOOKS LIKE a growing green shoot — it may even be a real shoot but palming it may be a bit more difficult. The performer lowers the cone over the pot, commenting that the darkness will help the seeds germinate; s/he drops the green thing down the cone and lifts it off, thus showing the sprig. S/he lowers the cone BEHIND the stand — as naturally as possible — over the hidden cone and picks them both up with a couple of fingers. S/he takes it over to the second stand, lowers the cone over the flower-pot, and slips the supporting thread so that the bush drops down into the pot, while commenting that as the first seeds had sprouted, these should be much more advanced. Again, the performer picks up the concealed cone behind this second stand; takes it over to the first pot, and repeats the process.
There are several physical constraints on the successful execution of this illusion.
1. The "heavy circular support", the rose-bushes, and the cones themselves must not be so weighty as to make it apparent that the load that the performer carries is increasing with each step of the way.
2. The circular support must fit snugly enough in the cone so that it doesn't rattle or bang against the cone.
3. The inside of the concealed cones must be tinted so that they aren't visible when the performer demonstrates that there's nothing in the cone, at any point.
4. The sides of the hidden cones must be very thin, for the same reason.
5. The supporting threads must be of the correct length so that when they are released, there is no sound when the support drops into the flower-pots.
6. The stands must be of such a height that the performer can reach comfortably behind them, to pick up the hidden cones, without having to bend or stretch.
When the performer is reaching behind the stands, indirection is essential! S/he will be standing a little behind the stand, both to make it more natural to move the cones behind the stand and to make it easier to reach unobserved under it. The second rose bush should be rather bigger & bushier than the first, in keeping with the idea that the things have been growing all the time.