Collectors and amateur flower growers tirelessly discover new types and varieties of indoor plants. Some colors are replaced by others. And here the conditions of a particular room are of no small importance, because the requirements for their content in plants are different. Lovers of beautifully flowering plants often face difficulties. Indeed, as a rule, in order for flowering to be long and abundant, such specimens require special care. There are not very many unpretentious plants blooming in rooms, and one of these is streptocarpus.
Streptocarpus – long flowering with minimal maintenance
Streptocarpus in nature
Streptocarpus (Streptocarpus) belongs to the Gesneriev family. It is a perennial herb with beautiful and long flowering. Elongated pubescent leaves of streptocarpus are collected in a rosette with numerous peduncles. In an adult plant, their number can reach 100 buds and flowers at the same time.
As a result of flowering, the plant has boxes with seeds, which, when ripe, curl. This was the name of the flower, because “streptos” in Greek is twisted, and “karpos” is a box.
The homeland of streptocarpus is the tropical and subtropical forests of South Africa and the island of Madagascar. It is there that about a hundred species of this plant feel great. Forests on mountain slopes, humidity, warmth and lack of heat are optimal conditions for streptocarpus.
Most species of streptocarpus are lithophytes, that is, growing on stones. But there are also epiphytic forms that prefer to settle on the trunks and branches of trees and other plants. Despite the fact that most of the streptocarpus species are inhabitants of humid forests, there are also lovers of a dry climate – the so-called xerophytes, able to withstand short dry periods.
Florists and botanists have been breeding streptocarpus for quite a long time and to date, more than a thousand hybrids of this plant have been bred, some of which are successfully grown indoors.
Types of indoor streptocarpus
Streptocarpus Rex (royal) (Streptocarpus rexii) – a native of the subtropical forests of South Africa. Therefore, its preferences for habitat are close to forest ones – diffused light, warmth and high humidity.
The plant is a lush rosette of pubescent leaves up to 12 cm long. The leaf plate is dark green, wavy with jagged edges. Streptocarpus buds are formed in the leaf axils on long, about 20 cm, peduncles. The more luxuriant the rosette, the more peduncles, and hence the more flowers on the plant.
The bell-shaped flowers end in five petals and can be white, pink, lilac, blue and red. The petals of some varieties are decorated with contrasting patterns. Streptocarpus Rex blooms profusely and for a long time – from June to September.
Rocky streptocarpus (Streptocarpus rocks) outwardly very different from other species. Long shoots of this plant are covered with small oblong leaves of grayish-green color, with pubescence. Peduncles are formed in the axils, bearing small flowers in the form of bells. The petals are light lilac, the center of the funnel is white.
In indoor floriculture, the rocky streptocarpus is used as an ampelous plant. Long-term flowering usually begins in March and ends in October. If in November the rocky dormant period is provided for streptocarpus with a decrease in air temperature and reduced watering, then it is possible to get winter flowering. However, this will require additional lighting of the plant in the morning and evening in order to increase the length of daylight hours.
Streptocarpus Wendland (Streptocarpus wendlandii) – a native of South Africa, quite often grown in rooms. The original plant has a single leaf of a very impressive size, up to 90 cm long and 60 cm in diameter. At the base of the leaf, peduncles are formed, on which numerous flowers bloom up to 5 cm in diameter. Funnel-shaped corollas are painted in blue, lilac or purple tones with dark veins.
Wendland’s streptocarpus blooms throughout the spring and summer. For abundant flowering, this species needs good lighting with a short exposure to direct sunlight. This type does not need high air humidity, it is desirable that it be at least 35%. The disadvantage of Wendland’s streptocarpus is its short life – it is an annual plant and after flowering its life cycle ends.
Streptocarpus hybrid (S. Hibridus) – a large group that unites the most ornamental plant varieties. Among the hybrids, you can find flowers for every taste – double, semi-double and regular flower shapes can have the most fantastic colors. Monochromatic – with or without a pattern, bicolor, when the upper and lower sides of the petals are painted in different colors, as well as the edges are dark, and the middle of the flower is light. As a rule, all flowers of hybrids have a pattern in the form of a thin mesh of a contrasting color.
Growing conditions for streptocarpus
Streptocarpus belongs to the same family as the Uzambara violet (Saintpaulia), and gloxinia is the Gesneriaceae family, but it is considered a less whimsical plant, and therefore it is very loved by flower growers. But despite the fact that this is a relatively not capricious plant, and it has certain preferences for growing conditions.
An important requirement for the care of streptocarpus is good lighting. If the flower is located on the south window, then you need to cover it from direct sunlight, especially during the hot season.
In winter, to force the streptocarpus to bloom, use a phytolamp or ordinary fluorescent backlight. Additional lighting is carried out in the morning and in the evening to increase the duration of daylight hours to 12 hours or more, because this is the main condition for flowering.
Most streptocarpus species prefer high humidity and only a few of them do not have such requirements. The usual way to increase moisture by spraying is not suitable for these plants, since water droplets settling on leaves and flowers can lead to various diseases and loss of decorativeness.
It is best to use a humidifier or place a pot of streptocarpus in a pan of water. It is necessary to pour pebbles into the pallet so that the bottom of the pot is above the water – waterlogging of the earthen coma is highly undesirable. Many growers put beautiful containers with water around the plants – in the hot season, the water evaporates especially intensively and the air humidity rises.
During the growing season, the air temperature for streptocarpus should not exceed 25оC. In the hot season, you need to find the coolest place for the flower. You can put it in an air-conditioned room or simply remove it from the sunny windowsill and ventilate the room more often. Temperature below 20оWith during the growth period, it can slow down the development of the plant and postpone the flowering period.
In winter, in order to provide a dormant period, streptocarpus will need a cooler content, but the air temperature should not fall below 14оC. Lighting at this time should be bright enough, but not exposed to sunlight. If the plant remains to winter on a cool windowsill, care must be taken that the soil in the pot does not get too cold. It is best in such cases to place a board or some kind of insulating material under the pot – polystyrene, drywall, etc.
Watering and feeding
Despite the fact that streptocarpus are predominantly inhabitants of humid forests, watering should be treated very carefully when potting, since overflows often lead to plant loss.
It is best to water streptocarpus by immersion, placing the pot for 20-30 minutes in a container with settled or filtered water. The water temperature should be slightly higher than room temperature – + 28 … + 30оC. After keeping the pot in water for 20-30 minutes, remove it and put it on the wire rack – excess water should drain. After that, you can remove the streptocarpus to its original place.
Such watering is used mainly in the summer, when the flower grows most intensively and its water needs are significant. However, you should not overdo it with this – the next watering is carried out no earlier than the top layer of the earth dries out.
Experienced florists use the method of drying for streptocarpus, that is, they let the earth dry out almost completely and after that they carry out watering by immersion. If the leaves wilted a little during an artificial drought, then already during watering they restore turgor and rise. This procedure helps prevent soil acidification and root rot, which sometimes happens when growing potted plants.
If you add the necessary fertilizers when watering by immersion in water, then you can be sure that the fertilizing will get to the roots, and will not settle in the upper soil layer.
With normal watering from above, you must ensure that water does not get on the leaves and stems of streptocarpus – this can lead to decay. In this case, the water should also be slightly warmer than the air temperature in the room.
Top dressing is a prerequisite for growing streptocarpus. Young plants need mineral fertilizing containing equal parts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Before flowering, adult streptocarpus need fertilizing with a predominance of phosphorus and potassium. You can use fertilizer for violets or other flowering plants, but make the concentration slightly weaker than indicated in the instructions.
You need to start feeding the plants a month after transplanting (as a rule, this is spring) and then every two weeks. The best effect is given by the alternation of fertilizing – mineral and organic.
Annual replanting is a prerequisite for the normal growth and flowering of streptocarpus. In addition, this plant quickly “grows” and loses its decorative effect, therefore plant transplantation often pursues another goal – rejuvenation.
The renewal procedure is carried out in the spring and takes place in the following order:
- prepare the substrate and pot;
- remove the plant from the pot;
- remove the old lower leaves and cut the peduncles with scissors, if any;
- cut the topsoil with a clean sharp knife according to the number of outlets;
- separate the sockets with your hands, trying to preserve as many roots as possible;
- plant young plants in containers and water;
- during rooting, put young streptocarps in a well-lit place without drafts and direct sunlight.
Containers for streptocarpus should be low and wide, because the plant grows in breadth by the appearance of new outlets. Plastic pots are best suited, because in clay and the soil dries out faster, and small roots grow into porous walls, and this complicates further transplantation.
At the bottom of the pot, drainage must be laid in a layer of about 1/5 of the pot. Expanded clay, fragments of bricks or coals from a fire perfectly cope with this role – the main thing is that the drainage layer calmly lets through excess water.
The soil for streptocarpus, as well as for other representatives of the Gesneriaceae, needs light, breathable, because these plants breathe not only with leaves, but with roots. The optimum soil acidity is Ph 6,5-6,8. For transplanting, you can use ready-made soil for violets and add vermiculite or perlite to it, in an amount equal to 1/3 of the soil volume. You can prepare the soil mixture yourself, taking in equal parts:
- garden land;
- coconut substrate or vermiculite;
- coniferous humus.
Reproduction of streptocarpus
Streptocarpus reproduces in three ways: by dividing the bush, cuttings and sowing seeds. With the first two methods, the plants obtained as a result of reproduction will be an exact copy of the parents, but when sowing seeds, surprises are possible.
The division of the streptocarpus bush is carried out during the transplantation of an adult plant. At the same time, young rosettes are separated from the mother plant and seated in separate pots. How to do this correctly was described above.
For grafting, take a young healthy leaf of streptocarpus and cut it across so that parts are 4-5 cm long. You can make cuts along the central vein and get two parts of the leaf. The resulting segments are kept in air for half an hour to wind the slices and planted vertically in prepared pots.
The soil mixture for grafting streptocarpus can be prepared independently by taking peat, vermiculite and coconut substrate in equal parts. Rooting soil should be light and moist. Fragments of leaves are slightly squeezed and the pots are removed to the greenhouse.
Ideal conditions for the rooting of streptocarpus are high humidity, air temperature from +22оC to + 25оC and lighting for 12 hours. The greenhouse must be ventilated every day, removing accumulating condensate from the walls. During the first month, the cuttings develop roots, and after another 2-3 weeks, young leaves will appear.
From this point on, the greenhouse should be slightly open so that the leaves do not rot from high humidity. After the appearance of the second leaf, young streptocarpus can be planted in separate pots.
Reproduction by seeds
Streptocarpus is easily propagated by seeds, but the result can be plants that do not look like their parents – hybrids. It often happens that hybrids are superior to their parents in beauty, therefore keen Michurinians love this method of reproduction.
To get streptocarpus seeds at home, flower growers resort to self-pollination, because in indoor conditions there is no wind or pollinator insects. For this, the pollen of a flowering plant is shaken off onto flowers of other varieties. As a result of pollination, seed pods will appear, which, while ripening, burst and the seeds fly in different directions.
To collect the seeds, the bolls of streptocarpus are cut off, without waiting for them to be fully prepared, and wrapped in a paper or cloth napkin. In a warm, bright place, the boxes will ripen and open, and the seeds will be in a napkin.
The length of daylight is very important for seed germination, therefore, depending on the season, if natural light is not enough, then additional lighting will be needed.
A flat container is filled with a light moist substrate and streptocarpus seeds are spread over the surface. They will germinate in the light, so you do not need to sprinkle them with earth. The container is covered with glass or plastic wrap and placed in a warm, bright place. The temperature for germination must be at least + 23 … + 25оC. The film or glass is removed every day for 10-15 minutes, and the accumulated condensate is removed. Daily ventilation will help prevent mold growth.
After two to three weeks, shoots of streptocarpus will appear, and the glass or film can be removed. After the appearance of the second leaf, the plants can be planted in separate cups. It is very important that the pots should be small and grow gradually. A flower grows, and a pot grows.
Possible problems of growing streptocarpus
One of the problems with growing streptocarp is the lack of flowering. As a rule, this is due to a violation of the conditions of detention. It is worth taking a closer look to see if there is enough lighting, whether watering and feeding are normal. Sometimes it is enough to rearrange the flower to another place for it to bloom.
Streptocarpus can be affected by various fungal diseases. More often than others, rust, powdery mildew and various rot appear. The cause of the disease is usually errors in care – waterlogging or violation of the temperature regime. To avoid the spread of the disease, you need to carefully examine the flowers and, at the slightest suspicion, spray it with a fungicide for indoor plants. All damaged parts of the plant must be removed.
Pests of indoor plants do not bypass streptocarpus either. Thrips, aphids, spider mites and scale insects usually appear when the air is too dry. When pests appear, the cause of their occurrence should be eliminated and the plants treated with an appropriate insecticide. The biological product Fitoverm is well suited for indoor conditions – it is the least toxic and active against many parasites. It is necessary to spray not only the entire aerial part of the plants, but also the soil in the pot, because many pests hide there.
Dear readers! Streptocarpus, of course, is an unpretentious plant, but you cannot put it on the window and forget about it. It requires very little – a bright location, moderate temperature, slightly increased air humidity, timely watering and feeding. Nothing special, but having received all this, he will delight you with his flowers all summer long, and by applying additional lighting, you will also get winter bloom.