Grow Houseplants With Color and Personality

Primulina 'Silver Surfer' from Gary's Out of Africa.
Although I've always felt most gardeners cut their teeth on houseplants, I can see now that's overly simplistic. It's true that many begin with growing a plant indoors. Those of us who entered adulthood in the 1970s or even 1980s transitioned from living with our families to living in our first apartments. If we had an itch for growing a plant, this is where it began.

In an environment where overwatering is the main cause of death, growing houseplants,  especially in the winter, requires restraint. After all, many houseplants don't do much but remain alive if we're lucky.

Kohleria 'Lono' from Gary's Out of Africa.
Of course there are exceptions to the rule. I came home with two exceptions when I visited Gary's Out of Africa. Gary's collection blew my mind, as we'd say in the '70s. Not only did he have an impressive selection of African violets, he had some plants I'd never heard of. Which is what happens when you ignore the houseplant world for so long.

Gary grows and sells plants in the Gesneriad family, which includes Streptocarpus, Primulina, Achimenes and more. The reason behind Gary's business name is that most of the plants originated in Africa.

Aeschynanthus sp radicans from Gary's Out of Africa.
There are some exceptions, of course; as it's no fun to limit yourself to one continent.  Achimenes can be found in Jamaica, northwestern Mexico,  Central and South America. And Aeschynanthus, which comes from southern Asia and the western Pacific islands.

The ultimate houseplant for those who are ready for a challenge, African violets and their relatives are fairly easy to grow.

Take a look at this document from the Gesneriad Society called How to Know and Grow Gesneriads. Look through this wonderful introduction to determine whether you would like to try a few of these wonderful plants.

If you would like to see and purchase a wide selection of plants from Gary in mid-winter, you must attend the Porter County Master Gardeners' Gardening Show in Valparaiso, IN from 8 am to 4 pm on January 24, 2015.

Streptocarpus 'Cartier' from Gary's Out of Africa.

Achimenes 'Caligula' from Gary's Out of Africa.

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