I seem to have ignored new plants lately so I will try to make amends in the next few weeks as this is the time when most people think about buying plants. So here is a quartet of new streptocarpus from Dibleys of North Wales. The nursery has a fine reputation for its Gold-medal-winning displays and for introducing and maintaining a fine collection of streptocarpus. They are also to be commended for offering a decent range of begonias, coleus and many other, interesting gesneriads that are otherwise hard to find.
I have a great fondness for streptocarpus, for several reasons. For a start, they are flowering houseplants ‘par excellence’. With care, most will flower for six months (often more) and are easy to look after, needing temperatures no more than 5c in winter (if necessary – though they would prefer a little more). They are beautiful, which is a major consideration, and Dibleys have made huge strides in expanding the colour range and flower patterns. They are eminently collectable, being neat and tidy, and any bright windowsill will house half a dozen or so.
But before I go on, a couple of minor quibbles. Because they flower so profusely, there are lots of flowers to pick off the windowsill, or the plants, and the flowers can get infested with aphids, and the leaves with mealy bugs. And most important of all, they HATE overwatering and overpotting. They have relatively small and shallow root systems so, although you can repot in spring, be vary careful only to do so if they need it. Oh, and vine weevils will eat the roots! Luckily, because streptocarpus are so drought tolerant, even if the roots are damaged, the plants will often, slowly, recover.
So use a very fibrous, open, potting mixture and, once established, wait until the plants are almost dry before watering. If you let your plant sit in water for long, the roots will rot and you will have to coax it back to life. Feed once a week in summer.
Older varieties used to have huge leaves, something they inherited from parent species, some of which have just one, ever-growing leaf, the flower arising from the base of the petiole. Modern varieties are less leafy and much neater but the flowers still appear along the base of the midrib and the leaves do continue to grow for many months. Often the leaf tips go brown, especially in winter when you are keeping the plants cool, in a semi-dormant state, but you can just trim the leaf tips.
One of the best features of these plants is that they are easy to grow from leaf cuttings – something fun to do on the windowsill.
Anyway, back to the new plants: ‘Titania’ has delicious-looking icecream and raspberry sauce coloured flowers that are ruffled and distinctly pretty. ‘Gold Dust’ is described as ‘exceptionally free flowering’ and I love the colours. ‘Sweet Rosy’ is apparently strong growing and in addition to those beautiful colours, the flowers are scented. And ‘Elfin’ has up to ten flowers per stem, which assume a pinkish tinge as they age and it too is fragrant.
Sunday Puzzler Solution
How did you do?
The plants were:
That gives you E E O R V K P C
Rearrange those and you get Peckover House, in Wisbech, Cambs