Soil: Good drainage is extremely important. Purchase and use African violet potting soil mix.
Water: Most Gesneriads prefer to be kept evenly moist, but some like to dry out between waterings. ALWAYS use room temperature, aged water (let a gallon jug of water sit for at least 24-48 hours to remove the chlorine).
Humidity: This requirement is the hardest to provide in the normal house. For some plants only a terrarium environment meets the need. Another method is to group plants together. Plants may be set on a pebble tray, but do not let them stand in water. Misting is a practice that that some follow, but I would strongly discourage it because the leaves may become spotted (even if you use room temperature water). This method can also promote fungus growth on the leaves.
Temperature: A wide range of temperatures are tolerated – 55 to 80 degrees. African violets prefer warmth; Streptocarpus like cooler temperatures.
Fertilizer: Regular, dilute feedings are more beneficial than a concentrated dose at long intervals of time. Use 15-30-15. Apply when soil is moist, not dry.
Propagation is varied: seed, rhizomes, tuberous offsets, pieces of leaf and stem root easily (as many of you have done to produce a new African violet) and stolons from Episcias.
Looking at the pictures accompanying this article will, hopefully, make you decide to add a member of the Gesneriad family to your plant collection. You will be glad you did!
For more information, contact Nancy Heber, GCO Chairman, Indoor & Container Plants, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (614) 451-8538.