Nematanthus tropicana 28 years old (pic)

susankaJanuary 30, 2012

Hi, everyone. I posted on the "house plants" forum asking if someone could identify my plant, which we've had for 28 years. I was told it's a Nematanthus tropicana, a Gesneriad. Someone suggested I post my picture of it here for you folks to see, so here it is. I'm so glad to know something about it finally. This is a photo a friend took of a new plant from a slip I gave her. The leaves don't look as glossy as they do on mine though.

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irina_co(z5 CO)

Yep - it is it! Very easy and rewarding plant to grow and the more light you give i the more it blooms.


    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 1:20PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

Nematanthus 'Tropicana" - it is a hybrid, not the species - N. perianthomegus (tessmannii) x N. radicans (gregarius).

Regarding how shiny the leaves are -I am thinking it is is a photo issue, not the plant your friend grows.

One of the parents - N.tessmanii - has large matte leaves and yellow stripey tubular flowers, N. gregarius - small very shiny waxy thick leaves and guppy fish pouch flowers of yellow orange shade - so 'Tropicana' is an in-between in leaves and blossoms - and it has a very attractive calyx - so when the stripey corolla drops - the calyces stay and create an additional interest.

Good Luck = and it is probably time to add another Nematanthus to your collection to give "Tropicana" some company.


Here is a link that might be useful: Nem.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 1:34PM
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irina, thank you so much for all the information. Now I have another question: Our friend has been in the same pot for more than ten years. It's doing so well, I'm afraid to repot it, but I probably should, shouldn't I? Any advice on that dilemma? And thanks again. Here too is a pic from a while ago of the whole plant, so you can see the size; it looks pretty much the same. It's in a similar location now, gets a bit of direct southwest light in the afternoon. I cut it back once in a while. The cuttings root just being stuck directly in the potting soil. Maybe I shouldn't disclose my lack of parenting skills.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 12:51PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

Susanka -

it will do really well in a hanging pot near the window.

I think you manage really well - and plant this size and age - i wouldn't change anything - you can leach it - put it in a sink and run the water through the soil until it runs clear to refresh the soil.

What I suggest - is to restart it. Get the pot you like - probably something you can hang or put in an urn so it can trail, fell it with a light soil - AV soil plus 1/3 perlite added will work - and next time you are trimming your old plant - stick the cuttings in this new pot - and continue the routine you already mastered - trim the tips, stick them in a pot.

I think it is a best treatment of the vining plants - trim them to the desirable length - and every so often restart them - because the old stems in a center become bare with time and repotting won't help.

Beautiful room, lots of air! Love your space!!!


    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 2:14PM
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Irina, thank you. I'll try leaching it. But if I restart it on a massive scale, and keep doing that, I'll end up with many, many plants. Sounds like a neverending process. So far I've given starts away or thrown some out or stuck them back in the same pot. And I'd regret throwing out the original one I'm sure, even though it is a bit woody. It's been up high enough that you can't really see that, although it's now moved to a lower spot where we can see the woody parts more.

Anyhow, I'm glad to hear about leaching. I'd like to give this old guy a chance to be more comfortable. The rootbinding in this pot must be incredible.

Thanks again.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 3:25PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

Susan -

when it gets really ugly - then you will restart it.

They do bloom better when rootbound.

I agree with you - too many plants of the same variety ...the only place where it is good - it is a lawn.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 3:35PM
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Susan, I hope you see my post, since you have no email link available - I'd love to trade for some cuttings of this! Please email me - thanks!

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 9:17AM
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I would be willing to pay shipping plus extra to keep you from throwing away your trimmings. I had a Tropicana until my daughter's cat ate it. Daughter and cat no longer live here, but now I can't find another plant!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 5:16PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

veganfish -

In case if Susanka is not checking the forum -
look at They have 17 varieties including Tropicana. If you have large sunny window, you can as well try Ubatuba. This a large plant, large leaves - with red splotches on the back - that's how they attract hummingbirds - very interesting - and you can put it outside for summer.

Good Luck


    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 12:17PM
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