|The Streptocarpus I ordered came in plastic shot glasses.|
|Streptocarpus 'Bristol's Boomerang'|
One of the best-known gesneriads is the African Violet (Saintpaulia), which I have been struggling to grow for awhile. Another member of the group--Episcia--has also come here to die. If you think that, just because they're in the same group they'd have the same requirements, you'd be wrong.
I finally seem to have hit upon a plant in this group that actually likes it at my house. Streptocarpus is really easy to pronounce once you know how. I think of strep throat-toe-fish-infection. (Okay, so maybe that's not the best way to remember, but maybe it will help someone.)
I ordered two from the Violet Barn, an online shop in Naples, NY that carries a nice selection of gesneriads. These two were hybridized by the shop's owners, Ralph and Olive Robinson, and are designated with the preface "Bristol." I really don't know how I was able to limit myself to just two plants--the variety is astounding!
|Streptocarpus 'Bristol's Sally Mander'.|
Okay, so they've only been under my care for a little over two months. But they weren't blooming when they arrived and they're blooming now and showing no signs of stopping. I left them in their little plastic shot glasses with the holes in the bottom and slipped them into small ceramic planters filled with between 1/4 to 1/2-inch of drainage material. (In this case, decorative crushed seashells.) This layer serves to keep the pot out of excess water, and brings the plant up to viewing level.
I grew them adjacent to a plant light that was about 10" above them until they started to bloom, which is when I moved them both to my office where they receive light but no direct sun. This is just temporary, a move that will allow me to give myself a pat on the back while I'm ever-so-gently tweaking their really cute little petals. As for culture, I let them get pretty dry before I water them with a dilute fertilizer for blooming plants.
|Streptocarpus 'Bristol's Boomerang' and 'Bristol's Sally Mander'.|
After an hour or so of bypassing the completion of this blog, I paid $25 for a one-year membership in The Gesneriad Society, because I wanted to learn more about this fascinating group of plants.
Even if you have trouble with African Violets, give Streptocarpus a try. It's the theme du jour, kind of a post-holiday battle cry: