Primulina tamiana (Vietnamese violet)

Primulina tamiana flowerPrimulina tamiana is an extremely cute miniature plant. It flowers most of the year, and if the conditions are right it is never out of bloom. The plant is very tiny, under 3 inches. The flower spike is taller than the plant’s rosette, and the flowers are beautifully displayed. This plant is a gesneriad, an african violet relative, and requires the same culture. This plant does not like excessive heat or cold. The household environment seems to suit it perfectly.

Primulina tamiana makes a perfect terrarium plant. It’s tiny, the flowers are large compared to the plant size, and it does like higher humidity. It really stands out on mossy background. I really like Primulina tamiana. It easily forms seed pods that are quite interesting to look at, but they do limit the production of flowers. If you decide to leave the seed pods to mature, the plant will get back into flowering once those are ripe. Occasionally, I would see this plant growing from seed in random pots that were by the parent plant for sometime. You can easily tell it’s a p. tamiana seedling by the leaves. They are positioned like an african violet, but are rounder, smaller and the stems are a bit longer.

Primulina tamiana on a north garden window

Requirements:

Watering needs:
This plant requires moderate watering. You don’t want to leave it soggy or dry it out. I keep the soil moist at all times (or try to) when the temperature is high, and let it dry out between watering when it’s colder. This plant flourishes in terrarium conditions. You can also use a piece of yarn through the soil to wick water from a humidity tray for example, or a hygrolon set up.

Light:

Primulina tamiana

Primulina tamiana likes shade to part shade. It will benefit from few hours of direct sun, but cannot take afternoon sun. You can have it growing on a north window and it will still look great and flower, but not as much as if it is grown on an east/west window. The leaves will burn on a south window. I do take this plant out in the summer and keep it on the north side of the house, where it gets tons of bright light, but no direct sunlight at all, and it grows very compact as you can see from the picture on the left.

Humidity:

This plant likes higher humidity, though it can tolerate lower levels just fine. Humidity tray will help out. Primulina tamiana does not like its leaves sprayed. It will do great in a terrarium environment though.Primulina_tamiana

Soil Type and Fertilizer:

You can grow this as an african violet. I use african violet soil, or make my own mix of regular soil, peat moss and per-lite in more or less equal proportions. Primulinas like their soil to be light and aerated. I use african violet fertilizer for this plant. Primulina tamina is a light feeder and if you repot it twice a year you may not have to fertilize it. Nevertheless, I use lower concentration of fertilizer and apply it during the growing season.

Propagation:

Primulina tamina is extremely easy to propagate. It will sometimes do that even without your help, and you may find seedlings growing in random pots. You can also propagate this plant by rooting a leaf or a cutting. It’s very easy to propagate.

Other Care Tips and Personal Observations: 

primulina tamianaWhen Primulina tamiana forms seeds, it impairs the flowering of the plant and does tend to exhaust it. Other than that, it’s a heavy blooming plant with cute, beautifully displayed flowers. It’s tiny and easy to grow, and a favorite of mine. Since it’s so easy to propagate, I love adding from it to dish gardens and terrarium gardens. It grows pretty rapidly from seed too, reaching blooming size in several months. I think it might do great potted in other plants pots as well, as a ground cover, if the soil is compatible. Higher humidity and temperature seem to get the flowers a bit discolored. In my experience Primulina tamiana likes its cooler, that is under 80°F.

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