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Indoor Plant of the Month – Streptocarpus
Streptocarpus originate from the wooded valleys in mountainous areas of South Africa. Here, they are popular houseplants, which produce showy, long-blooming flowers, in a wide range of attractive colours.
The delicate flowers are lifted on slender branching stems, individual flowers have a long tube at their base and the flower petals open out from these, generally rounded with five deep cut-lobes which give the appearance of individual petals.
Commonly known as the “Cape Primrose” Streptocarpus’ leaves bear a resemblance to that of the primrose, however, they are not related to the Primrose but instead are a relative of the African violet (Saintpaulias).
The name Streptocarpus is derived from the Greek words, streptos, meaning twisted, and carpus meaning fruit, which is a perfect description of the plant’s spirally twisted seed pods.
Streptocarpus are moderately easy to grow and also easy-to-propagate, follow our ‘Secrets of Success’ to achieve best results…
Secrets for Success
- Due to their origins, Streptocarpus do not need full sunshine but they do need a bright position. Keep indoors on an East or West facing windowsill, out of direct midday sun, too much sun burns the leaves and fades the flowers. In the conservatory use green shade-netting or other plants as a sun screen. In the house, be sure not to put it in a dark or dull corner as the leaves will grow at the expense of the flowers and the plant will not thrive.
- Water when compost feels dry to touch but before the leaves are wilting and softened. You can water from above or below but guard against over-watering as plants cannot recover from this.
- During the growing season (April to November) always feed the plant when watering using a high Potash feed e.g. Tomato feed or Strepocarpus monthly feed tablets.
- To keep the plants looking their best and to promote further flowering always cut off dead flower heads and stalks, daily if possible.
- It is natural as plants age for the old leaves to die back or become discoloured. Any leaves which do not enhance the look of the plant should be trimmed or snapped off at the base as the plant generates foliage freely.