Plant Focus : Streptocarpus, “Cape Primrose”.

Streptocarpus has become a popular house plant over recent years. In nature, Streptocarpus are found growing in shady spots along river banks, in forests and gorges, in subtropical Africa. Below, they grow at the foot of the Camphor trees along this avenue in Kirstenbosch.

The Camphor avenue, Kirstenbosch

The Camphor avenue, Kirstenbosch

The name Streptocarpus comes from the Greek, meaning “twisted fruit”, referring to its seed pod.

The beautiful shades of blue of Streptocarpus cyaneus :

Streptocarpus cyaneus

Streptocarpus cyaneus

or Streptocarpus roseo-albus, make these popular indoor plants.

Streptocarpus roseo-albus

Streptocarpus roseo-albus

They are easy to grow if you keep their natural habitat in mind – cool, shady or dappled sunlight, moist, but well-drained, conditions.Do not allow to sit in water. Allow to rest in winter. They are closely related to African violets and benefit from a being fed a weak solution of African violet fertiliser during their flowering period.

Mature clumps of plants can be divided and re-potted. Otherwise propagate by leaf cuttings.

Looking closely at the flowers, you can see that they often have nectar guidelines to direct would-be pollinators.

SA 2014 620

Much hybridising has gone on so that they are available in a wide range of colours and forms, including reds, pinks, purples, yellows  – as well as these beautiful blues. Sitting on an east-facing windowledge, they will brighten your winter days.

4 thoughts on “Plant Focus : Streptocarpus, “Cape Primrose”.

  1. I love streptocarpus, but find them a bit of a struggle to keep going. The only one that grows well for me is on a north facing windowsill and I believe a terracotta pot helps to prevent it from getting too soggy. My others are sorry creatures sadly and will probably be replaced with new ones in spring.

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    • I have to admit I’m much better with plants outside than in! But I have an aunt who has the most wonderful Streps which seem to thrive on benign neglect. Guess it’s a case of finding the right spot indoors. And of course they look so much better in the wild.

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