Streptocarpus Saxorum

Streptocarpus saxorum

Streptocarpus saxorum (False African Violet)

It’s been a long time since my last post but I’ve had a busy few months and have now propagated a number of plants for a variety of Gesneriad species. One of these is Streptocarpus saxorum, a member of the Streptocarpella sub-genus within the Streptocarpus genus.

Also, known as the “false african violet”, it’s easy to see why as it looks like a cross between an african violet (leaves) and a Streptocarpus (flowers). I’ve tried both leaf and stem cuttings of this species and both have worked well (although the leaf propagation takes a lot longer). I’m now desperately trying to find space for a hanging basket as I think that these plants may have a tendency to trail and think this would look great.

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Leaf Cuttings – Making the Most of them…

Leaf Cuttings

Watch out for extra plantlets!

I’ve been checking over the latest batch of leaf cuttings and thought I’d mention a quick tip (that’s probably a bit of an exaggeration as this is probably not news to most people…). Anyway, if you’re lucky with your leaf cuttings you will find that rather than one plant, a few may actually have developed with their own root systems. These can be carefully separated by teasing the roots apart and ensuring that the stems and leaves don’t catch on each other when you pull the little plants apart. I only attempt re-potting these plants when they have several (3-5) leaves showing.
In fact, separating the plants at an early stage allows all of them to develop stronger and quicker (as with most plants).
Finally, if you try this and you break off what appears to be some stem and leaves with no roots, it is always worth planting these in very moist compost as they may still ‘take’ and develop roots.

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The Sun Has Got His Hat ON!

African violets and sunBlimey – it’s been a while since I made a post – the time has passed in a bit of blur over the last few months as I’ve had a lot of interest from my website (www.cloudviolets.co.uk). Perhaps the miserable weather has encouraged people to buy a few plants for the home!

Today I rolled up my sleaves and started to re-organise my african violets ready for longer (and hopefully warmer) days. One of the KEY things that had to be done was to move some of the plants that have overwintered in bright places (south-facing windowsills and conservatory etc.) to more shaded quarters. This is quite important as african violets like a bit of light, but continuous, direct sunlight will end up scorching (brown blotches) or bleaching leaves.

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Hybridizing African Violets

African violet seed pods

African violet seed pods

Happy New Year to everyone who reads my african violet blog!

Sometimes you find that someone else has done something far better than you can manage and I’ve had one of the those moments this morning. I came across a fantastic article by a lady called Rachel who explained (far better than I could manage), with some great drawings, how to pollinate your own african violets. I was saddened to see on the home page that she passed away in 2008. I hope that her family and friends will not mind me mentioning the site as in my mind there is something quite uplifting to think that although Rachel has passed on her writing lives on and people around the world may be following her advice.

The web page is http://www.rachelsreflections.org/hybridizing.htm and is definitely worth a visit if you fancy having a go at hybridizing your own african violets.

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Eucodonia – African Violet meets Streptocarpus

Here is a fascinating little house plant that we have started to grow and is a relative of the african violet (being in the same family of Gesneriaceae). From what I can deduce from various sources, the genus Eucodonia was initially part of the Achimenes genus but has been split off on its own.

Eucodonia

African violet relative – Eucodonia

Eucodonia are like a cross between african violets and streptocarpus with the leaves having varying degrees of downiness (like an african violet) but with pronounced veins like a streptocarpus. The flowers tend to be shades of blue and violet and are not unlike streptocarpus blooms in their shape.

Like african violets, Eucodonia can be propagated reasonably easily from leaf cuttings or by division of the scaly rhizomes that are produced.

We have now started to offer plug plants and seeds of this unusual plant for those who fancy growing something a little bit different – see our website (www.cloudviolets.co.uk).

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Sinningia Leucotricha

Sinningia leucotricha

Sinningia leucotricha

This african violet cousin (in the same Gesneriad family) is a really striking plant and one that we are keen to start supplying in the New Year once we have established a sufficient number of them. We are, however, already selling seeds for this exotic house plant which was featured in the recent BBC programme – ‘Great British Garden Revival’ (mentioned in my previous post).

Having been a big fan of african violets for a number of years, I am starting to get a bit of a bug for some of its relatives. Have a look at our new Gesneriad website for some other members of the Gesneriad family.

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House Plants Appear on the BBC!

House Plants on BBC

House Plants on BBC

I watched a great programme the other night called ‘Great British Garden Revival’  on BBC 2. It had a section on house plants which is pretty rare in my experience for most gardening progs!

I had a bit of greenhouse envy when they showed the nursery for the largest online supplier of house plants in the UK and it was great to see a few of my favourite plants (Gesneriads) mentioned – including streptocarpus and the wonderfully exotic looking sinningia leucotricha. The BBC iPlayer is showing the episode (click here) and after a quick look it appears that this series is on BBC 2 at 7pm on a Friday. Definitely worth a watch!

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