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Streptocarpus spp. (strep-toe-KAR-pus)
Cape primrose, False African violet
Streptocarpuses have short, ovate, fuzzy leaves and tiny,
trumpet-shaped flowers. The flowers “float” above the foliage on
The blossoms are available in hues of white, pink, red, blue and
purple. They also can be bicolor with white or yellow throats or
white petal edges.
A single Streptocarpus plant can produce flowers for up to six
months. Keep pinching off faded florets to prevent the plant
from going to seed.
IN-STORE AND CONSUMER CARE
LIGHT Bright, indirect light
will maximize plant quality and flower development. Flowers that
open at lower light levels will be pale and irregularly colored,
especially on darker cultivars. Choose an east, south or west
window to provide the correct light levels.
WATER Streptocarpuses never
should be allowed to dry out, even slightly. When watering the
plants, avoid getting water on the leaves.
do best with nighttime temperatures of 60 F to 65 F or warmer
and daytime temperatures of 70 F to 75 F.
HUMIDITY Humidity levels
should be medium to high. This can be achieved in the home by
placing the plant on a pebble tray.
FERTILIZER Use a
high-phosphorous bloom fertilizer such as an African violet food
product. Streptocarpuses can be fertilized moderately at every
SOIL Use a pasteurized
GROOMING Remove individual
flowers as they fade. If lower leaves turn yellow, they can be
removed without damaging the plant.
Streptocarpuses are sensitive to ethylene gas. The blossoms will
wilt when they are exposed, and the plant will not recover. Make
sure your plants have been treated with an anti-ethylene agent
at the grower level or during transportation.
pests Wipe mealybugs off with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing
alcohol. Keep spider mites down by fumigating, vaporizing or
syringing with insecticide.
MEANING The name
“Streptocarpus” means “twisted fruit” in Greek.
FAMILY Streptocarpuses are
members of the Gesneriaceae family. This diverse family
comprises more than 2,500 genera. Perhaps the best-known member
is the African violet (Saintpaulia). Other popular plants in
this family include gloxinias (Sinningia), lipstick plants (Aeschynanthus),
flame violets (Episcia) and cupid’s bows (Achimenes). The genus
Streptocarpus contains about 140 species.
Streptocarpuses are native to Africa, Madagascar, Thailand,
China and Indonesia.
HISTORY Streptocarpuses were
discovered and sent to England by James Bowie (1790-1853), who
discovered and named many of today’s popular commercial plants
like Clivia, Euphorbia, Aloe and Gladiolus.
BUYING TIP The plants should
have 25 percent of their flowers open and others showing color
at the time of sale.
Some information provided by:
The Chain of Life NetworkÆ,
The Gesneriad Society,
Virginia Cooperative Extension,
Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association
Society of American Florists’ (SAF) Flower & Plant Care manual
You may reach “Blooming Plant of the Month” writer Steven W.
Brown, AIFD, at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (415) 239-3140.
Photos courtesy of The John Henry Company
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