Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pretty picture: Streptocarpus 'Tanager'

Streptocarpus sounds like a nice plant - related to Saintpaulia, takes similar care, bigger leaves, bigger flowers - but I find them really frustrating, and 'Tanager' is the most frustrating cultivar of the four we had at work this year. They flowered a little bit in the spring, then stopped for the summer (too busy rotting, apparently), then finally came back and started to flower again now, in October and November, which is only six or seven months too late to sell. I'd bought one in March, because the color was pretty and the plant had buds on it, but once I got it home, all the buds dropped off.

That was okay, I rationalized, because they'd been moved. It was probably traumatic. They'd be back.

They weren't. The plant barely even grew any leaves until like September.

And now not only flowers, but four spikes' worth of flowers. I guess it sometimes pays to be patient?

All the same, they're better on paper than they are in person. We cut the order for next year in half, and 'Tanager' didn't get a re-invite. Too flower-shy and rot-prone. Plus, when trying to sell plants to people as outdoor annuals, one really needs to try to choose plants that like to be outdoors: I never got the impression that any of our Streptocarpus cared for it that much.


Zoƫ said...

I love streptocarpus, they always have such a tempting display of them at Wisley in the Plant Centre. I have yet to have one survive happily here though; I am currently mourning a beautiful velvety purple cultivar. I think the draft that whistles around this place is too much for such beauties.

Tyra in Vaxholm said...

It is very pretty, I have no luck with plants like that even my Saintpaulia dies or look very sad in my home :-( Tyra

mr_subjunctive said...

Well, they're supposed to like cooler temperatures, actually, but watering has been our major problem at work: we get them in as plugs, where the entire root ball is only about an inch across, and then we immediately put them in pots that are four and a half inches across, which overwhelms the tiny, delicate root system and they rot and die. I'm trying to do something about this for next year (talk the boss into smaller pots or leaner soil). Don't know how optimistic to be. Even if we got the pot size problem fixed, they still rot easily if they're too wet for too long, and mealybugs seem to like them (not so much a problem this year, but last year when I started this job, we had to throw out several because they had mealys).

telipogon said...

I love Streps. They respond well if you hold water till they tell you they want it. Oversummering outside is a good idea for healthy plants, though the problem is that this is also their flowering period. Flowering is more consistent if they are given bright light just short of leaf burn (i managed to acclimatise some of mine to almost full sun by the end of the 'summer') and plentiful high potash feeding (say once a fortnight). In winter, they just seem to need a cool room and less water (i managed to get a couple through outside but success was hit and miss).