Your Best Scented Gesneriad?

mwedzi(chicago)September 9, 2004

What is your best-scented gessie? Does it flower well? Does it grow strong? I'm looking into getting something scented. Thanks, mwedzi.

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jon_d(Northern Calif.)

Hmmmmmmm, gessies are not known for fragrance yet we gesnerds have discovered in recent years that quite a few have some scent. Often it is faint or curious. Then there are a few that have really good scent. But, the best of them is not an easy plant to bring into flower (at least for me)--Sinningia tubiflora. I have a big pot of this one, which I grow outside. It seems to need very bright light to full sun. Here, in the dry west coast full sun seems to be too strong. My big plant, filling a twelve inch terra cotta pot sent up three flowering stems with two to four flowers each. They are just finishing flowering. But, I see other growers get this to flower as single stems in pots 4-6" in diameter. So, maybe it is just me. This one has a wonderful fragrance--lemony and nice. It has long white flowers that last for up to two weeks. Another sinningia that is also quite fragrant and easier to grow is Sinningia conspicua, which has a large pretty flower in pale yellow with brown lines on the lower petals. It also has a lemony scent. This plant grows to about two feet high, making it a good window sill plant, though it will grow under lights. It also is a species that naturally grows in shade while tubiflora naturally grows in sunny places. S. conspicua only was discovered and came into cultivation in the late 80's or early 90's. Its flower shape and size is similar to eumorpha. So, that would be my vote. Plus I like the name--"the conspicuous sinningia".


    Bookmark   September 10, 2004 at 1:25PM
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Yeah, I knew S. tubiflora would be the first mentioned. I see it for sale, auction, or trade quite a bit and it's heralded as being scented. But the light is the problem for me, too. I will be looking out for S. conspicua. I know there are some, because there's a category in the AGGS convention awards for best scented gesneriad. At least, I'm pretty sure there is.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2004 at 7:57PM
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JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)

Although it's a bit out of date by now, here's a link to an article on fragrant gesneriads on the "Gesneriad Reference Web".

Here is a link that might be useful: Fragrant Gesneriads

    Bookmark   September 12, 2004 at 2:57PM
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Thanks for the link John. I also remember that Gary Mikita from Northern Illinois Gesneriad Society was showing a streptocarpus called "Heavenly Scent", I think. I think it was a unifoliate, but not with many little flowers, but one or two huge ones, peach colored. I really wish now that I would have gotten it.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2004 at 12:53AM
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I treat S. tubiflora as an outdoor tub plant here and it flowers dependably in nearly full sun. Not the showiest of plants, but the fragrance is nice.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2004 at 8:23AM
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Is it hardy to your zone, Eric? Or do you bring it in once it gets cold? Or do you let it die?

    Bookmark   September 13, 2004 at 8:27AM
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My bad, "Heaven Scent" is not a unifoliate. I just remember the young one having one huge leaf, that's why I thought so. Apparently there are several scented streps, as was discussed on this forum not too long ago. Finding them is the hard part. As for the sinningia, you'd think it be easy finding something so "conspicuous".

    Bookmark   September 14, 2004 at 1:40AM
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I haven't tried overwintering S. tubiflora outdoors here. I bring it in before frost, decrease watering and let it go dormant. It usually insists on regrowing before spring, so it goes under lights while in active growth, then back outdoors again once reliably warm weather is here.
Makes lots of tubers.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2004 at 11:04AM
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jon_d(Northern Calif.)

Tubiflora is the "potato" of the sinningia tribe. It loves to fill a big pot with tuber offsets. It is very hardy, generally but exposed portions of the tuber will freeze and turn to mush, just like any other sinningia, if exposed. Part of the tubiflora strategy is that its tubers are naturally buried fairly deep, up to about six inches down, though we plant potted tubers with about an inch of soil over. My plants do have exposed tubers though, as they have run out of room in their pots. Conspicua is a little hard to find as a small plant with tuber. There is no good reason for this, other than the fact that mail order nurseries don't grow all the species due to the fact that they can all be found in the AGGS seed fund. But, I know, that not everyone wants to grow on from seed, which takes a couple of years and leaves you with dozens of plants (if not hundreds) from your sowing. Growing gesneriads from seed, though, is really a great way to get new plants. Sinningias germinate easily and grow easily. Transplanting the tiny seedlings often will generally speed up their growth. You might send an email to Lauray of Salisbury (Judy Becker) to see if she has plants. She is on-line, though I haven't checked to see if her catalog is still on line.

Jon, busy planting seed for next summer's AGGS convention in Portland.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2004 at 12:46PM
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jon_d(Northern Calif.)

I checked my bookmarks and found the link for Lauray; and, it still works. She does list conspicua, for $6. Here's the address:

Here is a link that might be useful: Lauray

    Bookmark   September 14, 2004 at 10:12PM
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sojournerjoe(st. louis)

Sinningia "apricot bouquet" has a fruity scent and flowers easily and muchly.

Primulina(SP?) tobaccum has an interesting scent.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2004 at 9:00PM
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Well, I picked up a couple of scented ones yesterday at the local AGGS chapter. The Primulina tobaccum soujournerjoe talked about and the Streptocarpus "Heaven Scent". My strep's not in bloom, but one on show there was in bloom and was indeed rather fragrant, sweet-smelling. The Primulina leaves do smell of tobacco and when you rub them, brown smears come on your hand and your hand smells like chewing tobacco. Very interesting!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2004 at 11:41AM
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