Episcia ‘Suomi’

Episcia suomiEpiscia ‘Suomi’ is a little gem of a plant. It is a bit of a fussy episcia, but once you match it’s requirements it will rapidly grow out and flower profusely. It’s a very free flowering plant, and with the right condition, especially if grown under lights, will flower year round.

Episcia ‘Suomi’ is a tiny leaved episcia. The leaves are glossy , dark olive green, and have a silver stripe through them. The coloration varies slightly between cultivars and different conditions. The flowers are creamy yellow, with a bit of orange in the center, though some cultivars may lack the orange hint in the flowers.

This plant is perfect for terrarium culture. In fact it pretty much requires it. If grown outside, the leaves crumple and get curled up at the corners, and the plant will eventually end up dying. I grow mine in a glass bowl open at the top, or in a sealed terrarium. Though I’ve had some success growing it outside of a terrarium as well, I’d recommend sticking to a terrarium culture.

This episcia, though a bit tricky to grow at first (I definitely killed a few in the beginning), is a pleasure to have at home, and absolutely lovely to look at. The contrasting foliage, creamy yellow flowers and the tiny stature of the plant are really cute.Episcia suomi

Requirements:

Watering needs:

Episcia_suomiEpscia ‘Suomi’ loves to be watered. If you manage to keep the soil evenly moist, the air humid enough and the temperature warm, you can grow it outside of a terrarium as well. I’ve had some success growing it with a hygrolon strip through the soil, making sure the soil is kept constantly and evenly moist, and planted with some other high humility plants in the same pot to keep the humidity around Suomi high.

Light:

Tiny episcia suomiThis espicia is a low light plant. If the light is too low, however, the leaves will get longer, and the plant will produce long stolons that plant themselves at a considerable distance from the main rosette. If the light is too high the leaves will be small and start curling up at the edges. I grow mine in a closed environment next to a west facing window where it doesn’t really get direct light (because it’s to the side of the window) but plenty of very bright indirect light. This plant flowers and grows profusely. I’ve grown this episcia with equal success on a north facing window and well grown up terrarium facing east. I have several episcias ‘suomi’ growing in multiple glass bowl set ups, where the plant adds its dark foliage and lovely yellow flowers to those mini-gardens.

Humidity:

Episcia ‘Suomi’ loves humidity. It is essential for the plant, as it will not tolerate lower humidity. If you manage really high humidity you can let the soil dry out a bit between watering, but having soggy soil and dry air is a sure way to kill this plant. Soggy soil and very humid and warm air (rot conditions) seem to be well tolerated by this episcia. Episcias don’t like to be sprayed, and though this variety has more of a glossy type leaves, it is still no exception. Spraying it will cause wilt spots on the leaves, and you might loose your plant to rot.

Soil Type and Fertilizer:

Light soil with plenty of per-lite. I use either african voilet soil with extra per-lite, or equal parts generic potting mix, peat moss and per-lite. You can also use vermiculite instead of  per-lite, but keep in mind that vermiculite is more moisture retaining. This is a tiny low light plant, and I use very diluted fertilizer (usually african violet fertilizer) from spring to fall.

Propagation:

Very easy to propagate. Epsicia ‘Suomi’ grows tons of stolons that just plant themselves next to the mother plant. You can simply wait for them to root and repot them, or cut and root stolons yourself. It is great to simply root multiple in propagation jars (a closed glass bowl or terrarium with drainage and constantly moist soil with a tad bit of rooting hormone in there). That way you can have multiple Suomis to experiment with, and try different conditions, knowing that you have a back up. I generally do that with almost all miniatures as soon as I can get enough material form them to propagate them.

Other Care Tips and Personal Observations: 

Episcia SuomiThis low light miniature is a terrarium plant to be admired. I will recommend growing it in a terrarium and propagating it, before trying anything else. Light level is also very important. It will grow at very low light levels, but you will not get much flowers out of the plant in that case. Bright indirect light, or artificial light is ideal. Episcia ‘Suomi’ can take some early morning or late evening light, but it will die if the light is too strong. It takes a bit of playing with the light levels to get the perfect amount, where it’s not enough to damage the foliage, but plenty to induce tons of flowers. Once you match its needs, this plant becomes a piece of cake to take care of, and its rapid growth and easiness of propagation will give you plenty of material to share, or experiment with.

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