Streptocarpus

by M. Arjoca, vegetalshapes.com

Streptocarpus Chrystal iceIts name means “twisted fruit” because its fruit is like a long, thin and twisted pod. The streptocarpus is native to Africa where it grows in woods, among rocks and on the banks of the streams. Its leaves resemble those of primulas and sometimes it was associated with them, but actually it is related to African violet and Gloxinia.
The leaves, arranged in rosettes and covered with little hairs, are longer and narrower than those of primulas. Unlike the African violet the streptocarpus has no stem and his flowers grow directly from the stem of the leaves.
The flowers have a throat that ends with petals. Their color can be blue, pink, red, white and the hybrids have different beautiful and special combinations.
The streptocarpus is a plant loved by many for its beautiful flowers that it produces for a long period. There are many organizations and societies that grow this plant, create different hybrids and organize various flower competitions.
The streptocarpus is easy to grow and its needs resemble those of African violet. It likes the light, but not directly and not too much. It is a plant that requires partial shade and it is suited to east and west facing window sills.
In its natural environment, the streptocarpus grows also among rocks, so it can live with less dirt. It has surface roots and doesn’t need a deep pot. But the pot must have holes to let the water drain. It prefers rich soil with neutral to alkaline pH. The soil can be enriched with organic fertilizers, especially potassium. But don’t overdo because this can have as result large, green leaves and no flowers.
The good drainage is important because the plant doesn’t like sloppy soil which can cause rot. That’s why the watering must be done only after the dirt dries. Generally 2 times a week during summer and 1 time a week during winter. The air ventilation is needed to prevent the mold and the rot.
The streptocarpus is resistant to drought, but this is not desired to happen because it doesn’t like the heat. It is a plant that prefers the temperature between 18°C  and 27°C (65°F – 80°F).
If properly cared, the streptocarpus blooms from May until winter. The spent flowers and the dried tips of the leaves must be removed. Doing this is not dangerous for the plant.
Chrystal iceThe propagation can be done through seeds germination, plants division and leaves.
Take green, healthy leaves from a mature plant, stick their stem to 2.5 cm depth into the soil (compost) and water. Put the pot in a transparent bag. Close the bag and take care that it doesn’t touch the leaf. You can use sticks to keep it to some distance. You can use a transparent glass jar instead of plastic bag. Open the bag or remove the jar from time to time to assure the ventilation. After about 1 month the leaf will have roots and after another month it will have small new leaves. Move the new plant in its permanent pot when it is big enough to be handled.
If you try to propagate it through seeds germination, let the seeds uncovered with soil and keep the dirt moist.
Dangers

More about:
African violet
Hibiscus, the rose of China
Plants that purify the air