Streptocarpus is a house plant commonly known as the “Cape Primrose” that is a relative of the African violet, with long-blooming and spectacular flowers that bear a slight resemblance to primroses.
Streptocarpus produces wrinkled leaves from an irregular rosette that grows from the ground. The leaves may be strap-like or rounded. It produces showy flowers with five lobes around the bloom. The flowers resemble foxglove blooms and are red, white, blue, yellow and almost black. The only colour it does not produce is orange. Most of the cultivated varieties grow to between 12 and 18 inches in height over two to five years and some may flower the whole year. Other varieties are unifoliate – producing a single leaf – and others are soft stemmed, shrubs.
Streptocarpus is native to Southern and Eastern Africa and Madagascar. They can grow on the ground, in shady areas, on hillsides and rocky cliffs and sometimes on tree trunks. They prefer a slightly shady and moist environment in the wild. Different species flower at different times of the year. The seeds are distributed by the wind.
Streptocarpus is best planted in summer and will flower during the warmer months. The house plants are available all year round from commercial growers.
Streptocarpus is a genus of the gesneriaceae family of herbs, shrubs and small trees, with showy flowers. There are over 3,200 species growing in the wild.
Just like its African violet cousin, streptocarpus thrives in artificial light, especially fluorescent lighting. It can survive freezing temperatures in winter but prefers a minimum temperature of 7 to 10 degrees Celsius. Streptocarpus can be propagated from seeds, cuttings or a division of the original plant. Water twice a day in summer and use a high potash fertilizer. Take care not to over water as this will rot the roots. Allow the plant to grow fully in its container before re-potting.
Did You Know?
The name Streptocarpus derives from the Greek streptos, meaning twisted and karpos, meaning fruit. The plant’s seed pods twist open when ripe.