Monday, July 1, 2019

The African Violet's Cousin: The Streptocarpus

Streptocarpus caulescens

I was out visiting my friend, Suzy, who has a great appreciation for plants. Her mom is an avid African Violet fan. We talked about how African Violets are easiest to care for in front of a north-facing window. If one doesn't have a windowsill facing north, it can be a little tricky to find just the right spot where an African violet will thrive. 

Suzy does not have a north-facing window so hasn't grown any African violets. Fortunately, she was able to find just the right place in her home for this Streptocarpus in a hanging basket. During the summer, it lives in the shade under the eaves of her shed. The rest of the year, it hangs in a room with large windows and plenty of bright indirect light. 

Many nurseries and garden centers will carry different varieties of Streptocarpus. This one, the Streptocarpus caulescens is one of the easier ones to keep indoors. Its soft green foliage and lovely flowers make a beautiful hanging basket. 

Like African violets, the Streptocarpus is part of the Gesneriad family of plants. Sometimes known as Cape primroses, I've usually seen Streptocarpus' labelled for sale with their botanical name, not a common name. 

These enchanting, soft and fuzzy-leafed plants are native to East Tropical Africa.  


Care instructions--
  • Right in front of a north-facing window is the best place for them. Otherwise,very bright indirect light or a place with some morning sun, works too. Direct afternoon sun is too strong for these plants.
  • Water thoroughly as soon as the top is dry. A plant in a 10" diameter hanging basket will take about 1 quart or 1 liter of water, when ready.
  • Fertilize with African violet food regularly. Schultz Instant African Violet Plus works beautifully.

***For a variety of video clips on houseplant care from my 90's TV series, click below:

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