The National Capital Area Chapter of The Gesneriad Society recently held its annual show at U.S. National Arboretum. The most popular gesneriads are, of course African violets, one of the most popular houseplants in the world, probably followed by the florist Gloxinia, and the Cape Primrose(Streptocarpus). But there are many more unusual and beautiful genera and this show is a great opportunity to see some of these. They range in size from plants more than one foot across to miniatures that can fit in the palm of your hand. Many of them make great houseplants, while others require special conditions to thrive. Here are a few photos from the 2010 show.
Genseriad Society members were on hand to answer questions–the members are very friendly and happy to offer advice on how to grow these gems. Many gesneriads, such a the Cape Primrose and Kohlerias will even thrive in a bright window as houseplants, while others do very well in terrariums. There is also a sales table where you can pick up young plants, cuttings, and seed at very reasonable prices.
For more information visit The National Capital Chapter of The Gesneriad Society. Meetings are held several time a year at the National Arboretum and new members are always welcome to learn how to grow gesneriads as house plants, trade plants and cuttings, and enjoy the gesneriad plants on display by members.
Smithianthas also known as temple bells, are related to african violets. The giveaway, is their fuzzy velvety leaves, but that’s where the resemblance ends. People often confuse the intricately patterned and mottled leaves for begonias. In some species, such as the Smithiantha zebrina pictured here, the leaves can be up to 6 inches wide and equally long! Most houseplants will probably be on the smaller side but still be equally dramatic as the one photographed.
We found that growing ours in moderately bright light resulted in larger, more luxuriant, foliage. These plants also appreciate warm humid conditions and adequate moisture, but allow them to dry just a little bit in between waterings. The root systems quite shallow and mine seems to be doing very well in a hal-pot. A standard African violet mix suits these plants fine.
While for many, the beautiful foliage would be enough, Smithianthas is also produce spikes of brightly colored flowers, that dangle like temple bells, in the winter months. If ours blooms, which it should, we’ll post a photograph!