Recommendations for warm season outdoor use

hardrockkid(z6 (PA))March 20, 2005

Hello Gesneriad Gang,

Looking for advice on outdoor use...

I discovered Streptocarpus last spring when one nursery here was selling them as annuals (as you can see, I'm a Zone-6'er). Naturally, this was 'Concord Blue', as that is what most of the general greenhouses seem to sell. I was then gratified to learn of other Strepto varieties, and while looking for sources for them, I stumbled into Rob's Violets and browsed their 'Other Gesneriad' section, and alot of those look tremendous!

So, what I'm wondering is, does anyone have recommendations on species that can or -- maybe more importantly CAN'T -- be grown (or won't do well) outdoors in a Pennsylvania summer (in containers or in the ground)? I hope to winter them indoors, although I must confess that my houseplant track record is not so good!

Is there some reason beyond availability that so many people sell 'Concord Blue' and so few sell anything else? (eg, others don't do well outside, take longer to come into bloom, etc)

Also, any sunlight preference info would be helpful. I have one spot in mind with full morning sun, then nearly complete shade; some 'full sun' spots; and some heavy shade spots.

Thanks for any advice!

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jon_d(Northern Calif.)

In the deep south, Chrysothemis are used as bedding plants. They are quite tropical but in the summer they thrive in all the heat and humidity. They grow from a tuber, which can be lifted and overwintered inside, when they are generally dormant. Living on the west coast in the sub-topic zone my experiences wouldn't be too useful for you, but outside I grow nematanthus, lysionotis, streps (rosulate types), some columneas and others of the Chinese gesneriads. I would geuss that lysionotis would make good outdoor plants. They generally flower in the summer, though ikidae seems to flower late in the fall. The pauciflorus/montanus group flower in summer though.

Many people on the east coast grow some of the larger sinningias outside. 'Apricot Glow' is a popular outdoor subject. It does well in planters or pots. I would guess that many of the species sinningias, which can be easily grown from seed would be good for outdoor growing. Then, in the winter they can be stored as tubers--aggregata, reitzii, cardinalis, eumorpha, carangolensis.douglassii are a few I would try. But, many other species would do well too. There are also many hybrids that combine these larger ones. Oh yes, and S. tubiflora with its large fragrant flowers seems to do well outdoors on the east coast, growing in full sun. If the tubers of this species are buried they can survive a few light freezes, but you would probably want to bring them inside when the foliage starts to ripen in the first half of the fall. Seeds of many of these can be found in the AGGS seed fund.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2005 at 1:24PM
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komi(z7/8 DC)

Last year I put episcias in the window boxes on my east balcony - there's obstruction so they only get a few hrs of sun (of varying degrees). They loved it. I just took cuttings in the fall and rooted them over the witner. I might put some out again this year.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2005 at 12:02AM
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hardrockkid(z6 (PA))

Great, thanks for the replies. I will try some... still don't know what yet!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2005 at 8:22AM
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robitaillenancy1(zone 5)

Hardrock Kid:

If I'm not mistaken Concord Blue is a Streptocarpella a sister to streptocarpus. Rob's streps and others offer another form entirely.

The reason you see it often in nurseries is that it is so easy to propagate with just a leaf.


    Bookmark   March 22, 2005 at 1:00PM
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JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)

Although they are often listed separately in catalogs, Streptocarpella ARE Streptocarpus. They are a distinctive group (subgenus) within the genus Streptocarpus. This large and diverse genus may be split up by taxonomists someday, but in the meantime they are all Streptocarpus because there is no such genus as Streptocarpella.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2005 at 8:42AM
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JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)

Achimenes do very well in hot, humid weather as long as they have a bit of shade and are not allowed to dry out. The flowers are very showy and come in a variety of colors. They do well both in containers and in the ground, preferably in a loose, well-drained organic-rich soil (i.e., not heavy clay). They will not be hardy in zone 6 but are easy to overwinter indoors as dormant scaly rhizomes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Achimenes

    Bookmark   March 23, 2005 at 12:51PM
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jon_d(Northern Calif.)

Whaa?? HUh.!! John, in your first post you were talking about streptocarpella being a subgenus of streptocarpus and maybe someday being separated into its own genus. That info, I'm fine with. But, you wrote your post capitalizing Streptocarpus and Streptocarpella (as I just did). But, I thought that when one writes about a genus as a whole and not in reference to a specific species that the genus name was uncapitalized. At least that is how I remember learning it from my nomenclatural mentor and hero (who be you!). So what gives. Did I learn this wrong? Have I been lowercasing genera incorrectly? These rules always get me.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2005 at 4:24PM
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