Why You Should Love Streptocarpus

By Dave G. (Strepbystrep) on February 1, 2014

There are many reasons for loving Streps. Their flowers come in an array of colors, color combinations, patterns and fantasy markings. The flowers are proudly displayed above the foliage and elegant. Some wavy, some very frilly, others with ruffles and some with unusual blooms that resemble an orchid or butterfly. However, there are other practical reasons to love Streps and give them a try.

 

Why You Should Love Streps


There are many reasons for loving Streps. Their flowers come in an array of colors, color combinations, patterns and fantasy markings. The flowers are proudly displayed above the foliage and elegant. Some wavy, some very frilly, others with ruffles and some with unusual blooms that resemble an orchid or butterfly. However, there are other practical reasons to love Streps and give them a try.

Here are my top 7 reasons;

1. They are tough. Experience is a great teacher. However, many have been able to grow Streps successfully even when they have had little to no luck growing African Violets. There's a reason why AV growers refer to Streps as "weeds." That's because these plants really do grow like the real deal when you understand and provide their needs. You don't need a "green thumb" to grow these beautiful flowering plants.

2. They grow under natural or artificial light. Personally I have grown them under both and the plants don't seem to care. Any window will do, even a northern exposure, however, they must not be in direct sun. Bright indirect light is sufficient to get lovely blooms. Not sure if your getting enough light? Take your hand and place it about one foot above the plant. Now move your hand back and forth, if you see a distinct shadow on the plant, you have enough light for these beauties.
Growing under artificial lights? See Helpful Tips for growing in the new section of the website for advice.

3. Ease of grooming. Since Streps develop multiple crowns, there's no need to remove suckers in general. There are exceptions, particularly in some Polish and Ukrainian varieties where too many crowns develop at one time on the plant. In these cases, keep only 1 additional crown. If allowed to develop, the additional crowns will crowd out the center or each other. DS-Mysticism is one that is notorious for this habit. Have a leaf too big? How about a discolored leaf? Just trim the leaf to any shape and the desired length with sharp scissors.

4. Flowers, Flowers, Flowers. Unlike their cousin the African Violet, which usually produces only one bloom stalk per leaf axis, Streps will produce between 6-7 bloom stalks in succession from each leaf. A mature plant with many healthy leaves can produce lots of blooms. Mature plant's flower stalks can produce from 2-6 flowers. On average most varieties will have 2-3, however, there are some which produce even more!

5. Ease of propagation. There are two methods of propagation, the AV method and the mid-rib method. The most popular is the mid-rib method. This is done by taking a section of leaf, preferably 2-3" in length. Cut along the rib going through the center of the leaf using a sharp knife to reduce the chances of bruising the leaf. Now pre-moisten your mix so it is damp not wet. make a small ditch the length of your leaf and insert the cut end into the ditch and spread your mix around the leaf and firm the soil around your leaf. Dome or bag your pot and keep out of direct sun. The biggest danger to the leaf rotting is keeping the mix too wet.
The AV method involves cutting the stem back to about 11/2." Cut the end of the stem on an angle and then cut the top of the leaf. This helps put the leaf's energy into growing roots and babies once the leaf roots. This method will produce fewer babies for those who do not want more than a few. On average you will get 3-4 babies from a leaf planted this way.

6. Fewer pest problems. Streps are susceptible to the same pests as AV's - mites, thrips, etc. Mealy bugs tend to be the most likely problem, but in general they are less likely to attract mites or thrips.

7. They are spectacular. What is more spectacular than a mature plant in full bloom? These plants mature quicker than AV's which means...faster to bloom! Most Streps will begin blooming in 4 - 6 months. There are exceptions depending on variety, culture and environment. Could be sooner or could be a little later than the general time frame.

Now how can you not love having "weeds" in your indoor garden now?

Dave

 

 

Related articles:
Gesneriad, Streps, Streptocarpus

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Comments and discussion:
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Thanks! KyWoods Feb 3, 2014 10:42 AM 2

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