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Streptocarpella saxorum

North of the tropics streptocarpella can be grown outdoors as an annual, but it makes a really great houseplant as well. I didn’t know anything about the plant when I saw it for the first time last spring, but those wiry petioles with quivery blue blooms bouncing at the tips were just irresistible. I took it home kind of expecting it to be of the sort of plant you admire while it’s blooming and then throw it away. The surprise has been that it is always in bloom!

Streptocarpella is easy if not easier to grow than African violets. Water only when dry, keeping the water off of the fuzzy leaves as much as possible. A little bit of weak fertilizer is good for keeping the leaves green, but it seems to bloom no matter what. It is simple to root from stem or leaf cuttings, which is worth doing because you’ll want more than one.

In a pot streptocarpella makes a rounded plant from 6 – 12 inches tall. Frequent pinching keeps it more compact. Outdoors it will creep and trail. Several cultivars are available from white-flowering to various shades of blue and purple. Rewarding plant to grow — highly recommended!

Scientific name: Streptocarpella saxorum

Common names: Streptocarpella, false African violet, cape primrose

Family: Gesneriaceae

Nativity: South Africa

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