Streptocarpella saxorum has wonderful cultivars and is one of my favorite plants. It has cute, velvety, deep-green leaves, and dainty flowers that hang from long stems and almost look like a cloud of butterflies flocking around the plant.
There are many cultivars, one of the most common of which is Concord Blue. The different varieties available vary in the size of the flowers, and the shade of blue (from violet to deeper blue, light to darker blue). There are also white cultivars. Some are purely white, others are very pale blue or are white with fringes of blue. There are also variegated forms, though I don’t know how well those bloom.
The wild form is somewhat smaller leaved, more of a lavender flower color, and I am still waiting to see how well it blooms (it’s almost blooming size). So far it seems to me to be a shy bloomer. The commonly sold cultivars are heavy bloomers and put on a wonderful display.
Streptocarpella saxorum originates from Tanzania and Kenya. It is a tropical plant, though it seems to enjoy cooler environment around the low 70ies Fahrenheit. This plant is pretty frost sensitive.
It belongs to the Gesneariad family, and as an African violet relative, is often referred to as false African violet. The growing conditions are almost the same as for African violets. This plant grows to about 12 inches in height and makes a wonderful hanging basket plant. Once it reaches a decent size this plant is everblooming.
This plant likes to dry out a bit between watering and likes to be occasionally soaked. Be careful of over-watering. The plant has juicy stems that tend to easily rot if the soil is soggy. If your plant is young and tiny you can be more generous with the watering, but a well established plant benefits from having its soil dry up between watering, especially in the winter months.
Bright indirect light is perfect for this plant. It likes part shade to shade. A large unobstructed north facing window , or an east/west window will be ideal for this plant. Direct midday light will burn the leaves, unless you slowly acclimate your plant to higher light.
This plant enjoys higher humidity levels, but do not spray the leaves as it will result in wilt spots. On another note this plant also seems to enjoy cooler environment, so lower temperatures and plenty of moisture in the air will help your plant thrive.
Soil Type and Fertilizer:
I use a mix of general potting soil and African violet soil with plenty of per-lite to make the soil well drained and light. This plant like basic to slightly acidic soil, well drained and light. I use African violet fertilizer during the warmer months, at a lower concentration than the recommended. Overall this isn’t a very fussy plant.
Streptocarpellas can be propagated by cuttings, from offshoots or seeds. You can even propagate them from a leaf. Cuttings root well in both water and moist soil. Generally speaking this is a very easy to propagate plant.
When propagating from cuttings it helps to keep the humidity high, but keep the leafy part of your cutting away from any water droplets as it will rot.
I like to propagate mine by dipping cuttings into rooting powder, and “planting” them in a ziplock bag with moist soil. I just leave the ziplock bag on my windowsill and essentially forget about it. The cuttings grow and sometimes even start flowering inside the ziplock bag. Be sure to carefully acclimate them to a lower humidity after removing them from the ziplock bag.
Other Care Tips and Personal Observations:
Pruning disrupts the flowering, but is sometimes needed. Cleaning the old leaves / spent flowers and occasionally pinching off a leggy stem will keep your plant looking good and it will keep it flowering. It can suffer from mealy bugs, and aphids (those seem to only go for the flowers and the flower stems). Spraying with insecticide will make the leaves get spotted and eventually dry off. Since the plant is free branching, and grows into a nice dense specimen, it’s hard to fully treat it. So my advice would be to remove as much of the infected plant, simply cut off as much as you can back, remove overly infested leaves and then spray it with the insecticide.