This blog has featured outdoor plants exclusively, but an indoor plant in one part of the world is, potentially, an outdoor plant somewhere else, so while this part of the outside world is snowed under, why not show off some of our seed-grown hybrid Streptocarpus (Cape Primrose). Click to enlarge the pictures.
After cleaning and packaging a thousand or so very tiny seeds, I threw the remaining few (with too much chaff to make cleaning feasible) onto a tray of moistened potting mix. Tiny green dots appeared within two weeks, and now, five or six weeks after sowing, I have over a hundred seedlings, some that will soon be big enough to grasp by the larger leaf and move into separate cells. The seeds germinated at a fantastic rate, and I am now looking for somewhere to set up more shelves to hold another hundred plants. (Of course, once they start flowering, it’s likely there will be some that are not worth keeping.)
A few weeks ago, we moved most of the streps onto racks in front of south-facing windows. They are still flowering and budding in November, but they will soon slow down and will take a rest in January and February. We don’t give them any extra light, but the racks are covered in plastic to keep in moisture and warmth. The house is dry in winter, and plants in small pots would otherwise need to be watered every two or three days. After another round of pollinating, we will set some of the heavy bloomers in windows around the house so that we can enjoy the flowers, and then return them to the warm racks for their winter rest.
We take leaves from the best plants for cloning. The easiest way is to wrap a leaf in wet paper (I use a coffee filtre — lightly moistened, not dripping wet), seal it in a plastic bag and keep it someplace warm. In a few weeks, roots and new leaves will appear at the cut end of the leaf. This method produces one new plant from one leaf (and after cutting off the new plant, the leaf can be wrapped up again and left to grow another new plant). It is possible to produce many new plants at once from a single leaf, by cutting the rib out of the centre and inserting the cut side of each leaf half into slightly moist potting mix. This method takes a little longer but can produce a couple dozen new plants per leaf — if you ever wanted that many.
Fortunately, streps don’t have to take up a lot of space. They flower very well in small pots (5-10 cm) and there is less risk of over-watering them, which can be fatal. Long, older leaves can be trimmed, or cut right off, with no harm to the plants. If they are kept small and tidy, several plants can sit easily together on a windowsill.