If you love Usambara violets, you need to read our article on Streptocarpus. This plant is a relative of Saintpaulia, so it is just as attractive, but much less demanding in terms of growing conditions and care.
Streptocarpus also has similarities with other popular indoor plants with beautiful flowers - synningia and gloxinia.
You will find answers to these and other questions in our article.
Read more about growing streptocarpus below.
Plant streptocarpus (Latin Streptocarpus) belongs to the genus of flowering herbaceous lithophytes and epiphytes of the Gesneriaceae family, which numbers about one hundred and thirty species. The streptocarpus flower comes from the subtropical and tropical forests of Madagascar, South Africa, Asia and Thailand, located on the slopes of the mountains above sea level. Some streptocarpus are xerophytes, that is, inhabitants of arid places, patiently enduring waterlessness, other species are forest ones, they hide in the shade near water bodies. Streptocarpus flowers can be both annual and perennial, both herbaceous and shrubby.
Nowadays, streptocarpus is becoming more and more popular in home culture because of its beautiful leaves and flowers, and it will not surprise anyone if it soon becomes more popular than its relatives - Saintpaulia or Gloxinia.
Slightly wrinkled and pubescent leaves of streptocarpus, forming a rosette, reach a length of 30 cm with a width of 5-7 cm.The color of the leaves is mainly green, but not so long ago, varieties with variegated foliage were bred by breeders. On high peduncles emerging from the leaf sinuses and reaching 25 cm in length in some species, flowers are located in an arbitrary number. They look like bells with elongated lower petals of various shades, types and sizes: simple, semi-double or double, from 2 cm to 9 cm in diameter, pink, white, lavender, blue, purple, red, two-tricolor ... Fruit streptocarpus - a twisted pod, because of which the plant got its name, which is translated from ancient Greek as "twisted fruit". This pod contains streptocarpus seeds.
Why is streptocarpus so good, what is its advantage over other indoor flowers? Here's what:
The list of advantages of streptocarpus could be continued, but in order for you to understand how wonderful this flower is, the listed ones are enough.
Streptocarpus care is about the same as for Saintpaulia. Place it in a bright place out of direct sunlight and drafts. A plant needs good lighting to grow leaves, because it is from their sinuses that flower stalks with flowers appear. The optimal temperature in the summer will be 20-25 ºC, in the winter - 15-18 ºC - this is what usually happens in our homes.
Watering streptocarpus after the top layer of soil has dried, it is carried out with soft settled water at room temperature Waterlogging of the soil entails rotting of the roots and the death of the flower, and the ingress of water into the leaf outlet causes it to rot, so you need to pour water under the leaves, and even better - into the pan. From time to time, bottom watering of the plant can be carried out by immersing the pot with streptocarpus in a container with water until the soil is completely saturated with moisture.
As for the humidity of the air, the difficulty is that it must be high, but you cannot spray the leaves or wash them with a sponge. You will have to spray the air around the flower or keep the plant next to wet moss or pebbles.
The plant needs fertilizers during a period of active growth, that is, from spring to autumn. During the flowering period, the need for feeding occurs every week. Streptocarpus ceases to be fed only in winter, during the dormant period. Preference is given to liquid complex fertilizers for flowering plants such as Kemira-Lux, Master or Etisso, but it should be remembered that the concentration of the solution should be 20% weaker than that indicated by the manufacturer. Timely remove the old lower leaves that no longer give flower stalks, since they only waste the strength and nutrients from the plant.
This procedure is carried out annually closer to spring, preferably in February, before the start of active growth. The root system of streptocarpus, although more powerful than that of a violet, is also superficial, therefore, the dishes are rather wide than deep. Each subsequent pot should be 2-3 cm larger than the previous one in diameter. The soil needs nutritious, but loose and light, like a store mix for violets, to which it is good to add perlite or vermiculite.
Place an approximately 2 cm thick drainage layer of expanded clay or foam pieces in the pot so that excess moisture can flow freely without stagnating in the roots of the plant. Then a layer of substrate is placed in the pot, onto which streptocarpus is transferred along with an earthen lump, and then you need to add the substrate and lightly ram it until there are no voids in the pot.
If you are attracted to the breeder's path, you can try growing Streptocarpus from seed. This type of plant reproduction is called generative. Streptocarpus seeds are sown from above on a moist earthen substrate, consisting in equal parts of perlite, crushed peat and vermiculite. First, to facilitate the process, mix the seeds with fine dry sand. After sowing, the seeds are carefully sprayed with water from a spray bottle and, covering the container with crops with glass or polyethylene to form a greenhouse effect, place it in a warm (21-25 ºC) bright place.
Seedlings will appear within two weeks. When condensation appears, ventilate the greenhouse, and when the seedlings grow a second true leaf, dive them into a nutritious substrate - three parts of peat, two parts of crushed moss and leafy earth and one part of vermiculite and perlite. You can use a store-bought earthen mixture for Saintpaulias.
Pests will annoy your flower only if you violate the rules of streptocarpus agricultural technology. For example, if the room is too hot and dry, thrips may show interest in your plant, and, starting the occupation from the bottom of the plant, they gradually master the entire streptocarpus, which will begin to dry before our eyes. We'll have to resort to insecticides, but the first step is to establish the correct microclimate so that history does not repeat itself in a month or two.
With the same violations of the conditions of care, streptocarpus and scale insects are affected, leaving brown plaques on both sides of the leaves. They are destroyed with actellik. With excessive soil moisture, streptocarpus attacks aphids, and there will be little insecticide treatment, you will also have to change the soil.
Of the diseases for streptocarpus, the most terrible are fungal lesions, from which there is usually no salvation. But if the conditions for growing a plant are fulfilled by you, then neither pests nor diseases are afraid of it.
In addition to the unreliable method of seed propagation, which is usually used for experiments with breeding a new variety, streptocarpus is propagated vegetatively: by dividing the bush and grafting. The streptocarpus bush is usually divided when the plant is transplanted into a new pot, especially since over time the plant grows so much that it has daughter outlets - streptocarpus babies. When you take the plant out of the pot, carefully untangle the roots, removing excess soil, find the place where the baby connects to the mother plant, and cut this "umbilical cord" with a sharp sterile tool, be sure to sprinkle the slices with charcoal. Then place the outlets in different pots, water and cover with a plastic bag for the first 3-4 days to create greenhouse conditions.
Which part of the plant can be used for rooting? Any. Sometimes the daughter socket is rootless, and you have to grow them. Sometimes a streptocarpus leaf is used as a cutting, and sometimes only a part of it, and an insignificant one. The rosette is rooted by placing it in the moss, after powdering the cut with charcoal. From above, the container is covered with a film; when condensation appears, the greenhouse is aired. When the roots grow at the outlet, it is transplanted into the ground along with the moss into which it has taken root.
The sheet or its fragment is cut along the cut with crushed charcoal and lowered into a container with rain or boiled water at room temperature so that the cut is immersed in water by 0.5-1 cm. Put a film on top or cover the container with glass. While waiting for the roots to appear, you need to ventilate the greenhouse to eliminate condensation.
Experienced flower lovers skip the stage of growing roots in water and plant the cuttings directly into the ground, constructing a greenhouse above them. Well, with a certain skill and luck, some rules can be neglected.
In indoor floriculture, wild species of streptocarpus are rare; growers prefer modern hybrids, of which there are more and more. But so that you have an idea of what are streptocarpuses in the wild, we will introduce you to some of their species. So:
Much more demanding than other species, demanding on temperature and humidity, is known as a perennial plant with a woody base, twisted at the ends of the shoots and light green oval pubescent leaves of small size. Purple flowers, also medium-sized, bloom in summer and autumn. Because of their resemblance to Saintpaulia, this species is called the fake African violet;
Both beautiful and original in comparison with other species: it grows one very large leaf, sometimes reaching 90 cm in length. On the top, it is green with light veins, and the underside of the leaf plate is red-purple. The leaf is broadly oval, pubescent and wrinkled, like most streptocarpus. Violet-blue flowers up to 5 cm in diameter in the amount of 15-20 pieces form a loose raceme on a long peduncle. The peculiarity of the species is also in the fact that after flowering the plant dies, and reproduces exclusively by seed.
Some of the natural species of streptocarpus, those with lodging stems, are grown by amateurs in home culture as ampelous plants. For example:
Shoots 10-15 cm high, inflorescences-umbrellas of flowers of a light purple hue;
On stems 40-60 cm tall, drooping pale blue flowers grow.
The progenitor of indoor streptocarpus is a species introduced to Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. It is called, or Streptocarpus Rex... It has long, up to 25 cm, pubescent leaves and bright purple flowers with purple stripes and strokes inside the throat. Breeders did not miss the opportunity to work with such an amazing natural material and created a whole complex of forms under the general name of hybrid streptocarpus. The first recognized cultivar "Constant Nymph" was distinguished by its bright blue flowers with a violet tint of a very large size - about 7 cm in diameter at the place where the petals bend.
And finally, we will present you several spectacular hybrid varieties of streptocarpus, the breeding of which, as you already understood, will not bother you:
Sections: Houseplants Epiphytes Beautiful flowering Plants on C Gesneriaceae
The Strelitzia plant is a type genus of the Strelitziev family. In nature, there are only 5 types of flowers. Exquisite bushes live on the island of Madagascar, as well as in some South African countries. An unusual plant has won the love of flower growers around the world. So the royal strelitzia became the official flower of American Los Angeles, and at home, in South Africa, it is revered as a symbol of freedom.
Strelitzia got its main name in honor of the British Queen Charlotte, who contributed to the creation of the famous Kew Gardens. Even the specific names of these plants are related to monarchs. Strelitzia flower with its outlines resembles a bright tropical bird. This is related to its popular name - "bird of paradise".
Floral designers and bouquets are happy to use strelitzia in their compositions, as it gives a unique flavor and sophistication. Of the five species of this plant, only two of them can be grown at home - Strelitzia "Royal" and "Nicholas".
In the wild, streptocarpus are found as epiphytes or lithophytes growing on other plants or in rocky surfaces. For the first time, their representatives were discovered by James Bowie in 1818 in the mountainous subtropics of the Cape Province in southern Africa, from which the second name came - the Cape primrose.
They are often confused with indoor violets due to their similar structure:
There are several types of streptocarpus:
They begin to bloom from April to late autumn, but with proper care they can please with lush buds at any time of the year.
The flower needs to create good lighting.
To receive a lush flowering in gratitude, you need to pay some attention to organizing the proper care of streptocarpus at home.
Streptocarpus is a thermophilic plant, but a normal room temperature of 22-25 degrees will be sufficient. In winter, when the plant is dormant, the temperature can be reduced to 14 degrees. But streps do not tolerate heat well.
Streptocarpus does not like drafts, but with appropriate hardening, it can stand in the summer on an open window or balcony. And at night it is better to close the sash.
The second important condition is good illumination. Flowering requires 12-14 hours of daylight, but the light must be diffused. In the summer, western and eastern windows are well suited. On the north side, the illumination will always be insufficient, and on the south, shading will be required to protect the delicate leaves from burns. In any situation phytolamps can create the necessary diffused light, then flowers can be placed even in the back of the room.
It is impossible to fill in streptocarpus. This can lead to the death of the plant.
The special specificity of streptocarpus is the correct soil moisture. If you forget to water the plant, it will quickly recover when it gets moisture. But if you flood streptocarpus, it will become seriously ill and may die.
To maintain optimal hydration levels, you need
An appropriate addition to watering would be to increase the humidity of the air near the flower, just not by spraying the leaves. It is good to put a container with water next to it or put wet expanded clay.
If you have the opportunity to sow immediately after harvesting, then the seeds must be sown in high-quality garden soil in boxes dug in the beds or in open beds. The soil is poured abundantly before sowing. Sowing is carried out shallow, in grooves or superficially. Since sowing is carried out in the summer, the plant needs to be provided with mulching and constant watering. Thinning is carried out after the release of the second pair of true leaves. Young plants are protected for the winter with a thick layer of dry mulch (up to 10 cm, preferably from dry leaves).
Sowing in winter is also best done in boxes, not earlier than stable night frosts come, and the soil begins to freeze. For primrose, it is imperative to ensure the presence of not only a sufficiently large number of drainage holes, but also the laying of a thick layer of drainage materials at the bottom of the boxes. Even before winter, primrose seeds are sown superficially, only slightly covering them with soil from above, but sowing is carried out as thickly as possible.
As protection from weeds, soaking and snow, the crops are covered with any non-woven material or film. The boxes are left in a semi-shaded place until spring, trying to remove the lutrasil immediately after the snow melts. Young primroses will need regular watering; even a short-term drought should not be allowed for seedlings.
Seedlings of primrose seedlings. © Simon Eade
Streptocarpus is considered a non-capricious plant. All he needs is regular hydration and feeding.
Watering the plant should be done regularly. Please note that the flower does not tolerate excessive moisture and overdrying of the soil very badly. Water for irrigation is pre-defended during the day and watering is carried out along the edge of the pot. An hour after the procedure, it is recommended to drain excess moisture from the pallet.
The optimum moisture content of the soil can be found with a simple test. Blot the surface of the peat substrate with a paper towel. If there are small spots of moisture on it, then the substrate is sufficiently moistened. If the surface of the soil in the pot is shiny and has a black tint, then such a soil is too wet for streptocarpus, and the red color of the peat indicates the need for watering.
Fertilization should be done every one and a half to two weeks, using liquid preparations for flowering plants. This will significantly increase the growth of streptocarpus, accelerate the appearance of buds and strengthen the immunity of the flower, which will help protect it from pests and diseases.
Fertilizers Kemira Lux and Etisso are perfect for feeding. The only condition is that the solution should be diluted at a concentration half as much as indicated in the instructions.
As a rule, streptocarpus bloom in late April - early May. During this period, they need good lighting, but nevertheless, they must be shaded from direct sunlight, otherwise the leaves may wither or burns will appear on them. It is recommended to systematically remove wilted flowers and peduncles, this will stimulate the appearance of new peduncles.
In order for the flowering to be plentiful, you need to remove wilted flowers and peduncles.
As such, streptocarpus do not have a rest period. But in winter, in order for the plant to gain strength before a new flowering, it needs to arrange special conditions of detention. At this time, the flower is kept at a temperature of +18 o C and the amount of watering is reduced.
To stimulate flowering, the plant must be transplanted into fresh substrate in spring, adding horse compost to it. Old and long leaves need to be shortened to 4–5 cm, which will stimulate the appearance of new leaf blades. Once the flower has developed a good green mass, it is ready to bloom. Please note that in order to get a more abundant and long-lasting flowering, it is recommended to break off the first peduncle.
If the plant does not bloom with good care, then the reason lies in the aging of the foliage. Each leaf can give no more than 10 peduncles.
The easiest way to reproduce streptocarpus is by division. The overgrown bush forms several divisions with a common root system. Before dividing, the earthen lump is watered abundantly, removed from the pot, and part of the earth is removed. Delenki are neatly cut with a knife or broken by hand, each cut should contain several leaves. In this case, the old roots must be removed. Places of cuts are dried and sprinkled with crushed coal. Before propagating streptocarpus by dividing, be sure to read all the tips above, this will help to avoid mistakes.
The optimal size of pots for seated streptocarpus is 7 cm, in shape they are wide and low. Drainage is poured at the bottom, then a layer of soil. The soil is preferable loose, breathable, crumbly and nutritious. The delenka is placed in the center, gently holding the leaves, sprinkle earth to the level of the root collar. Then the soil is slightly compacted and spilled with a weak solution of potassium permanganate for disinfection. To protect against rot, streptocarpus can be sprayed with Topaz. It is recommended to cover the planted plant with a plastic bag, several times a day the bag must be removed for airing. After 2-3 weeks, the division of streptocarpus takes root.