New to "Other" Gersneriads, and Excited!

Brighid(8)November 8, 2012

Hi everyone, I just wanted to introduce myself. I've been an avid African Violet grower for many years now, and I just discovered the beauty of other Gesneriads. I am so new to growing them, that I just ordered three plants from Lyndon Lyon to try. But I am really excited to see how I do at growing them, and to meet some other people who grow them.

There were a million I liked, but I ordered the following three to start out with:

Episcia - Pink Panther

Chirita - liboensis

Petrocosmea - sp. 'HT-2'

I've read that the above three can be cared for pretty much the same way as AV's, with the Episcia being slightly more sensitive to the cold. What do you think of these, and have any of you had experience with them?

I'm also fascinated by the "Goldfish" plants and the Gloxinias, but I will wait on them till the spring, because I have limited indoor space at the moment.

I'm looking forward to reading about your Gesneriad experiences, and seeing pictures of your plants.


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perle_de_or(Zone 7)

Brighid, we can be newbies together. I am also totally new to the other gesneriads. Someone gave me some Chirita (Primulina Tamiana) seedlings a couple of months ago and they are doing just great, so I am really excited about them. Also, I just ordered three Streptaocarpus plants and they should arrive any day. I look forward to reading much more on this forum as I try to learn how to care for mine too.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 11:10AM
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Welcome! I started out with AVs and fell into the "weeds" as well. Your Episcia will need high humidity in order to grow well. Most prefer a terrarium environment. With only a few exceptions they need more humidity than the average household environment. Episcias definitely are sensitive to cold and can be damaged if the temps drop below 50-55*F. Your Chirita has recently changed genus (the genus Chirita no longer exists) and is now Primulina liboensis. I find Primulinas can take more light than AVs, and this seems to be true of most other gesneriads. I don't really have any experience with Petrocosmea, but I grow many other genera and love them all.


    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 3:40PM
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I'm fairly new to the gessies as well. Epicias like high humidity. Most do best if left in a dome or terrarium to increase the air moisture. 50'F and lower will kill most Epicias as well.

Primulinas (aside from P. Tamiana) like a little more light than the average AV and seem to require some lime in the soil.

Pets., I haven't attempted, but a discussion I was in a few weeks ago with seasoned growers mentioned (repeatedly) that they require cooler temps, and if you can't provide it by having them outside, then refrigeration may be required. Would anyone like to verify this?

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 5:29PM
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Thanks for the information and advice. The cooler temps for the pets will be no problem in my house. And I do have a set-up for seedlings (was originally for sprouting vegetables, but now has a bunch of AV's and lavender seedlings living in it), which includes a heated plant mat. So I will try the Episcia on the mat and under a terrarium dome. If it doesn't do well, then, well, I probably wont bother to get another one, because I don't like to fuss over my houseplants too much. The AV's are nice because I can neglect them a little and they still do fine.

I actually read somewhere that the Primulinas and the Pets do fine with less light than AVs, so that's interesting you all said they might like more light. I'll have to experiment with them too, then, to see what they like best.

Does anyone know if the Pets are toxic to cats and dogs? I know most all Gesneriads are considered non-toxic, but I actually could not find anything specifically about Pets which states that they are non-toxic. I am very obsessive about keeping poisonous things out of my house, because I have three cats who occasionally chew things, and I often dog-sit for a collie who gets into everything. I try to keep my plants generally out of reach of the animals, but sometimes the animals outsmart me.

Thanks again for the advice!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 5:08PM
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Ok, so my new plants came on Thursday. The Primulina wasn't available, so they sent me another Pet instead: Asa Blue. Which is fine, that was one I was interested in trying at some point.

I was, however, shocked at how delicate the Pets seem. I knew they'd be small, but I expected the leaves to be a bit more robust like AV's. Now I'm a little intimidated and afraid to re-pot them. Can anyone give me some advice on how to treat them right?

Also, the Asa Blue is totally out of control looking. The leaves are not flat or nicely rosette shaped, they are standing straight up, and there's several sucker plants under them. Should I just pop off the suckers like I would with an AV? Again, I'm afraid of hurting the Pet. It's so small and delicate-looking.

The Episcia seems to be doing well, though. It looks lovely. I recently read someone's blog about putting Episcias in a round terrarium bowl, and I think I will try that. Hers looked beautiful. That way, it will be more humid for it, plus the leaves will be contained to the bowl instead of spreading all over the plant mat.

Anyway, I was just hoping I could get a little advice about the Pets. Am I being too nervous? It's so hard to find any good, concise information on them.


    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 12:46AM
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Everything should have some humidity right now. They are used to a greenhouse environment. The pets should not be refrigerated, I don't know where that came from...I have never heard that. They prefer little cooler than avs, but mine sit on a shelf that gets morning light, along side a lot of other av's & gesneriads. They actually rest a little in winter, so less fertilizer. In nature they grow in rock crevices, so they like shallow pot, not big or deep pot. I also read and heard they do not like repotting, so disturb them as little as possible. I had trouble keeping mine from drying out, so they are under cover, but not a lot of humidity. I think yours will flatten out as they get older. You can take the suckers and re-root them...also the leaves will root as well, just like av's. The episcia likes warmth, some of mine are under light and others at window light but not near the window as it would be too cool for them there. Not all are under cover, but the ones that are, are growing better. Primulina, when you get them, are like the pets, they don't need to be quite as warm as AV's. I also find they don't need as much light. Mine are grown on a shelf in front of a window.

I think when you say cooler, AV's grow and bloom the best if they are kept about 80, but tolerate warmer and cooler. Cooler in gessies means they like a little less than 80 but tolerate more or less as well. Not many houseplant will tolerate below 50.

Enjoy your new gessies.

I love the gesneriads. You might like to try the mini sinningias.

Have you looked to see if there is a gesneriad group that meets near you, or a show and sale you could attend. Its a good way to increase your plant collection. Members often share their extra plants and cuttings.


    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 10:52PM
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My violets don't like it at 80. They do best in fall and winter. And my gessies don't like more light than AVs either. You will have to see what yours like best in your environment.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 10:36PM
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That is true. Houses are different. I live in the South and get alot of sun in winter. I have lots of plants that like the window light better than the florescent lighting. Some varieties are more tolerant of conditions than others. I will move my plants around to see if they like one shelf better than another but other than putting some plants in glass or plastic containers, they either like the environment in my house or they get tossed and replaced with another variety. That is one thing that is really great to have club members and online groups to trade share plants with, it doesn't cost a lot to find which plants like my house.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 5:36PM
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Hello Brighid - This past summer I got an 'Asa Blue' Petrocosmea from Lyndon Lyon and it is doing well growing at the end of two 40 watt fluorescent light tubes where the intensity of the light is not as strong as it would be in the midddle of the tube. The Asa Blue is growing and healthy at room temperatures - 60 to near 70 degrees. I transplanted it into a 4" very shallow pot so that the plant can dry out between waterings. I found this information about these plants on the web and it helped me a lot - good luck to you, enjoy your new plants!

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 8:03AM
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