Streptocarpus is a beautiful flowering compact plant from the Gesneriaceae family. It forms a large rosette of leaves near the ground and dissolves bright, dense inflorescences, which, of course, attracts much attention. The homeland of the flower is the tropics of southern Africa, Madagascar and East Asia. Usually he prefers shady, moist forests, but can grow on mountain slopes near the sea coast. While streptocarpus is a rare and exotic plant for gardeners, it is gradually gaining popularity. Often it is called a false violet, but with a more hardy and unpretentious character.
Streptocarpus is a herbaceous perennial with a branched, fibrous rhizome, which is located in the upper soil layer. The plant does not have a stalk. The root neck has a thickening and may lignify. A leaf rosette from a small number of large leaves develops directly from it. Wrinkled leaves with a solid edge have a leathery, slightly hairy surface of dark green color. They take an oval shape and grow about 30 cm in length and 5-7 cm in width.
From the sinus of each leaf a naked pubescent peduncle is formed. At its top there are several buds, tightly pressed against each other. The peduncle length is 5-25 cm. The inflorescence may consist of an arbitrary number of flowers. The shape of the corolla resembles a bell with six fused petals. The top three are usually slightly shorter than the bottom. The diameter of the corolla is 2–9 cm. The color can be very diverse (plain or colorful): pink, lavender, white, blue, red, purple, yellow. The flowering period begins in the spring and lasts until September, but under favorable conditions in a pot, streptocarpus can bloom all year round. As a result of pollination, the fruits ripen in the form of twisted pods. Inside there are many very small dark seeds.
Types and varieties of streptocarpus
In the genus of streptocarpus, more than 130 plant species have been recorded. Many of them are suitable for growing at home, but decorative varieties, which are distinguished by a wide variety of petal colors and the size of the outlet itself, are more popular.
The streptocarpus is rocky. Plants live on the slopes of mountains and rocky mounds near the sea coast. They are resistant to drought and bright sun. At the base, the rhizome becomes stiff and represents a twisted outgrowth. Light green small oval-shaped leaves with a sparse pile are formed on it. On direct bare peduncles of lilac-green color, only a few lilac-violet flowers bloom.
Streptocarpus Rex (Royal). The plant boasts long (up to 25 cm) pubescent leaves and large lilac flowers with purple cilia. This variety belongs to the forest. It grows better in partial shade and in high humidity.
Vendland Streptocarpus. Unusual appearance differs exotic structure. Each specimen grows a single oblong leaf up to 90 cm long. Its surface is painted dark green and the veins are lighter. On the reverse side of the sheet, a red or purple hue prevails. At the beginning of summer, a long peduncle appears, the top of which is decorated with 15-20 blue-violet tubular flowers about 5 cm wide. After pollination, the fruits are tied, and the mother plant gradually withers and dies.
Streptocarpus hybrid. This group combines many decorative varieties and varietal groups. The most interesting of them:
- ds Mozart - surrounded by wrinkled, pubescent leaves on a long peduncle, large (10-11 cm in diameter) flowers bloom with blue upper and cream yellow, covered with a net, lower petals;
- ds 1290 - semi-double flower with white upper petals and a yellow-violet pattern on the lower;
- listy - large semi-double flowers with a pink-orange mesh pattern;
- crystal lace - a flower with a diameter of 5-7 cm with terry petals of white color is covered with an airy purple pattern;
- drako - rugged wavy petals on top have a pale pink color, and below are covered with a yellow-burgundy mesh;
- embroidered shirt - thick raspberry mesh on a white base;
- wow - raspberry-red upper petals are combined with yellow lower;
- tute card - an inflorescence of several blood-red corollas with a yellow spot on the lower petals;
- avalanche - forms a dense inflorescence of snow-white semi-double flowers.
Streptocarpus can be propagated by seeds and vegetative methods. Seed propagation is usually used for selective work, because the children are not like the mother plant, but they can have their own unique characters worthy of a new variety. Seeds without preliminary preparation are sown in a shallow container with a mixture of vermiculite, peat and perlite. Small planting material is conveniently mixed with river sand. It is distributed on the surface, then the soil is sprayed from the spray gun and covered with a transparent material. The greenhouse should be kept in ambient light and at a temperature of + 21 ... + 25 ° C. It is important to regularly ventilate it and remove condensation.
Shoots appear together after 1.5-2 weeks. As plants grow, they become accustomed to a lack of shelter, but maintain high humidity. With the advent of two true leaves, seedlings dive with a greater distance into the soil mixture of peat, moss-sphagnum, leaf soil and vermiculite.
To propagate a decorative variety with the preservation of maternal traits, use the following vegetative propagation methods:
- Division of the bush. A plant 2-3 years old during spring transplantation is freed from the soil and carefully divided into parts. Usually children (smaller sockets) are separated by hands, it is enough to untangle the roots. If necessary, the mustache is cut with a sterile blade. Places cut treated with activated carbon. The children are immediately planted in new soil and covered with a transparent cap for several days to increase humidity.
- Rooting cuttings. As a handle, you can use almost any part of the plant. A child without roots, a whole leaf or a separate piece of it at the cut point is treated with charcoal, and then slightly buried in moist moss. Landing is covered with a transparent cap. It is necessary to remove condensate in a timely manner and spray the soil. With the advent of the roots, young plants, together with a lump of old moss, are transplanted into a new pot with soil for adult plants.
Although streptocarpuses are perennials, at home they need to be regularly transplanted and rejuvenated. Without this procedure, many varieties from the third year of life almost do not bloom and lose their decorative effect.
For planting, you should choose a shallow but wide enough pot with drainage holes. It is better to use plastic containers, as in clay the thinnest roots grow into the walls, which in the future will interfere with the free extraction of the plant. A new pot should be 2-3 cm wider than the previous one. Expanded clay, broken red brick or other drainage material 1-2 cm thick is laid out at the bottom.
The soil for the plant should be light and nutritious, with high drainage properties. You can buy a ready-made substrate for violets or saints in the store. Composing the soil mixture yourself, you should use the following components:
- chopped sphagnum moss;
- sheet earth.
Streptocarpuses are considered less whimsical plants than, for example, violets, so they are suitable for busy gardeners.
Lighting. The flower loves bright diffused light and long daylight hours. From midday sunlight, especially in hot summer weather, you need to create protection. From April to October, plants are placed on the western or eastern windowsills, you can take them to the terrace. In winter, it is better to rearrange the pot on the south window and use the backlight so that daylight hours last at least 14 hours.
Temperature. Streptocarpus develops best at a temperature of + 20 ... + 25 ° C. In winter, cooler (+ 14 ° C) rooms will do. On too hot days, it is recommended to spray the plants and ventilate the room more often.
Humidity. This flower needs high humidity, about 50-70%, although it can also adapt to drier air. For spraying, fogging plants should be used, because drops on flowers and leaves lead to the development of mold and a decrease in decorativeness. In winter, it is necessary to put the streptocarpus further from the heating appliances.
Watering. The plant tolerates a slight drought better than flooding the soil. Between watering, the soil should dry out by 2-4 cm, depending on the total depth of the pot. Irrigation should be carried out along the edge of the pot or through the pan. Long contact of leaves and shoots with water is highly undesirable. The liquid should have a temperature above room temperature and be well cleaned.
Fertilizer. To give strength to streptocarpuses for a long and plentiful bloom, it is necessary to add fertilizing to the ground. Do this during the period of budding and flowering 3-4 times a month. A solution of the mineral complex for flowering plants or violets is introduced into the soil. The dosage recommended on the package is reduced by 20%.
Streptocarpus is a fairly sensitive plant that can often suffer from various diseases. It can be fungal (powdery mildew, gray rot, leaf rust) or bacterial infections. Usually, a disease develops when the balance of humidity and air temperature is disturbed or when parts of the plant come into constant contact with water. At the first signs of the disease, the plant should be sprayed with a fungicide or a mild soap solution, and the conditions of detention should be changed. Be sure to trim the damaged areas.
Too dry air on succulent leaves and flowers can cause thrips, aphids, mealybugs and scale insects. The presence of parasites shortens the flowering period or leads to the drying of unblown buds. Insecticide treatment should be carried out in several stages. Chemicals are sprayed not only on the crown, but also brought into the ground. In case of severe infection, a transplant is performed with soil replacement.
If the outlet of the streptocarpus looks completely healthy, but does not want to please the owner with flowers, it is worth thinking about finding a brighter place. It is important not only the intensity of lighting, but also its duration (14-16 hours). Without these parameters, it will be impossible to enjoy the juicy colors of large and bright inflorescences.