Thursday, June 14, 2012

Question for the Hive Mind: Episcia 'Pink Acajou'

Tuesday and Wednesday were travel days this week. I ordinarily spend weeks at a time stuck in the house, because I'm always either frantically watering plants or trying to recover from same, so getting to leave on two consecutive days is pretty mind-blowing stuff. The Wednesday trip was to the ex-job, among other destinations, so I have a bunch of new photos to be sorted through, which you'll probably see here eventually, though there's a pretty good chance I'm going to go on another hiatus from the blog relatively soon, for reasons which are actually pretty similar to the ones that made me go on a blog hiatus previously. (#3 doesn't really apply this time around, but the other three still do.) I don't know for sure when (or whether) the hiatus might begin, but you've now been warned that I'm thinking about it.


The actual plant-related point of this post has to do with one of the Episcias I got by trade last year. 'Pink Acajou' did nicely to begin with, but over the course of the last year, it's gotten all weird on me and I can't figure out why. Since I know some of y'all have more gesneriad experience than I do, I thought I'd show you the pictures and see if it looks like anything specific and obvious.

On the left: 'Pink Acajou' after it'd been here for about six weeks. On the right: what it looked like last week. It's possible that the photo is of a cutting of the original, not the original plant, but it doesn't really matter because they both look like this, with the tiny, dark, gray-brown leaves. The original and copy aren't in the same location.

I have other Episcias in the same spots, which get similar treatment, and they're not doing anything like this. If anything, the other Episcias are all going the opposite way, with larger leaves and more vivid colors. So I think I know how to take care of Episcias in general, just maybe not 'Pink Acajou' specifically. But you tell me.


Long Haired Lady Rider said...

Gosh they don't look like the same plant at all. Is it in the same size pot as last year? A little solo cup or < 3" pot?

If you don't think it's culture (temp, humidity, water, fertilizer, repotting, etc.) then I can think of two, no three possibilities:

1. a virus. Low chance of this one, though, as viruses usually look very different.

2. Tags got switched somewhere along the line -- does it look like any of your other Episicias?

3. Mutation/Sporting -- Episicas are highly variable plants, which is how we got such a wide range of forms & colors in the first place. Maybe something allowed or caused this one to sport?

It's a head-scratcher for sure.

Elaine in CO

nycguy said...

The usual explanation is that these variegatesd varieties are chimeras:
and the chlorophyll-less cells may die off in some growths. The growths with chlorophyll are more vigorous and will take over unless ruthlessly pruned.

Kenneth Moore said...

Others hopefully have more specifics than I can offer, but: pink Episcias are trickier than the greenish ones, often requiring more light/heat/humidity or some other combination. I haven't truly been successful, but I have a 'Pink Panther' that hasn't died yet in my glass case. So I have hope.

It almost looks like it doesn't have enough light--brown leaves, stumpy internodes. My 'Coco' did that, too.

mr_subjunctive said...

Long Haired Lady Rider:

It's in a 4" pot.

I'm not saying it can't be culture: I'm just saying that the other Episcias get essentially the same treatment, and they aren't all turning dark and tiny.

I'm positive that the tags didn't get switched; the closest thing I have to this would be 'Suomi' or 'Burning Embers,' both of which are pretty easily distinguished from this.


Well, but: on some of the plant you can still see the pink color of the original, so it's not like those cells went anywhere. And also these are about 6-8 individual plants, in 2 separate pots, and they all changed at once. (Granted, I don't recall when the cuttings were taken, so it's possible that the parent changed before it was propagated. I don't think that's how it happened, but I don't have any records to prove or disprove it.)

Anonymous said...

'Pink Acajou' is significantly harder to grow in my opinion, but I've managed to get growing really well.

If I were in your shoes, I would cut the plant in half, and put one half of the plant in a pot with a wick and soil that is 50% perlite, 50% AV soil or good indoor potting mix, and cover the plant. I would also prune back the plant harshly, and cover it with a humidity dome.

The prettier Episcias are low-maintanence plants in high-humidity situations, and more high maintenance in drier, brighter conditions.

The other half I would grow as usual, and pay attention to any differences between the two halfs.

Usually when Episcias look dried up like that it's because they are either getting baked by the sun, don't have enough humidity, or don't have consistent watering.

Sometimes it can also be because of not enough warmth, but I doubt that is the reason in your case since we're in June.

mr_subjunctive said...


Well, they are fairly close to a light, but it's just a fluorescent shop light, so there shouldn't be that much heat.

On the humidity question, I have to kind of shrug sheepishly: I don't really know how high the humidity is in the basement. At one time, I had a humidity gauge, but it stopped working.

Cold actually is a plausible explanation. We try to keep the house at basically the same temperature year-round, because I have plants that complain if it goes below 70F, and I complain if it goes above 74F, so there usually isn't much variation. What little variation remains is mostly at the level of certain rooms tending to be hotter (my office, the plant room) or colder (the husband's office, the basement) than the thermostat is set for.

And temperature would explain why this started more or less immediately on the plant's arrival and continued through summer and winter alike.

As for watering, they're checked once a week (since early April), and were checked every two weeks prior to early April. Over the last five months, one has been watered every 15.2 days, on average, and every 13.8 days for the other.

Anonymous said...

Can't help you with the Episcia, but after stumbling across this blog a couple of weeks ago, have been enjoying reading it. Gonna take a while to work through all the history, but maybe when that's all done you will be back in the mood to keep it running :).

Rebecca King said...

I think if you allow more space between the plant and the light, you'll get leaves that look more like the first photo, which looks like Pink Acajou. :)

Steve Asbell said...

My Pink Acajou is doing well, even though it was struggling at the time of purchase, but another much pinker variety has been having troubles with leaf spotting and stunted growth. I'm tempted to just throw the damn thing out just to keep it from affecting other plants, but maybe rooting the offsets in fresh soil would work too. I'm letting it dry out between waterings, not getting water on the leaves, giving it humidity, indirect light and ventilation, but no dice. :(