How to Grow Streptocarpus

Streptocarpus are easy growing perennials in warmer zones. They prefer partial shade but can tolerate up to 5 hours of direct sunlight per day (less in low-humidity environment).

Streptocarpus 'Something Special'

Other Names: Cape Primrose, Streptocarpus saxorum, Streptocarpella saxorum

  • Type: Perennial
  • Height: 12-18 in. ( 30-45 cm)
  • Zone: USDA Zone 9 – 11
  • Popular Varieties: Weismoor Hybrids, Windowsill Magic, Dibley’s Series, Bristol’s Series

How to Grow Streptocarpus as a House Plant

Streptocarpus are wonderful house plants, blooming freely throughout the year. Streptocarpus care and cultural requirements are similar to those of African violets with a few minor adjustments. The following are general guidelines for growing Streptocarpus plants in the home.

Temperature

Streptocarpus prefer moderate temperatures in the range of 65 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They are not as heat-tolerant as African violets and like more humidity, if possible. Use pebble trays to increase ambient humidity. Streptocarpus leaves tend to get “crispy” on the edges in low-humidity situations or if plants are allowed to dry out between waterings. If that happens and you find it unsightly, you can cut off the tips of the leaves with sterilized scissors without harming the plants. (You can do this with other house plants, as well, such as spider plants and Dracaena which tend to get ‘leaf burn’ at the tips.)

Air Circulation

Adequate air circulation is important for all house plants if you want to avoid problems such as molds and powdery mildew. Space streptocarpus plants apart from each other and add a small fan to rooms with poor air flow.

Light Requirements

Streptocarpus grow well in natural light and prefer some direct sunlight. Three to five hours of morning sunlight works well for most growers. Streps can also be grown successfully on lighted plant stands using regular fluorescent tubes (cool light). Place plants 8 to 12 inches from the lights for 12 to 14 hrs per day. More or less light may be required depending upon other environmental factors and you may want to experiment.

Watering

If you grow Streptocarpus in potting soil, water the plants approximately once a week in winter, twice a week in summer or as required – plants should not be allowed to dry out completely. If you have poor quality tap water or your water contains additives such as chlorine, chloramine, or water softeners we suggest you use filtered or bottled water. Chemical additives can inhibit growth or blooming in flowering house plants and ornamental plants.

Fertilizing

Fertilize your Streptocarpus with a weak solution (1/4 strength) of a balanced fertilizer each time you water. Alternately, use a half-strength solution twice a month.

Growing Streptocarpus from Seed

Streptocarpus seeds are extremely small – one ounce of strep seed contains approximately 2 million tiny seeds. Streptocarpus have the same germination requirements as African violets, Sinningia speciosa (Florist Gloxinia) and other gesneriads. Strep seeds need light in order to germinate and should not be covered over with soil. Follow these instructions to successfully grow streptocarpus plants and similar gesneriads from seed.

Streptocarpus seeds
click to enlarge

Comments

  1. Linda Yanock says

    How to I grow a new plant from my plant? Can I cut the top off? Can I plant a leaf like a violet? Mine is getting tall with a lot of flowers. If I cut the top off when it is finished flowering will it stop growing? Can I plant the top for another plant? It seems to need more water than once a week.

  2. Jean says

    Hi, Linda -

    You can propagate streptocarpus from leaf cuttings – it’s easy to do. There is an excellent online tutorial here and a good streptocarpus culture sheet available here (PDF download).

    In my growing environment, streps need to be watered more often than my African violets. They also seem to need more humidity to avoid getting ‘crispy’ (dry) leaf edges. I usually wind up wick watering them which helps them grow large pretty quickly. Good luck, and Let me know how you do with the leaf cuttings.

    Jean

  3. Michelle says

    I have a streptocarcus hybrid and it has a green leaf like growth on the end of o bloom shoot. Can this be used to start a new plant?

  4. Jean says

    Hi, Michelle -

    You can certainly try it! I don’t have nearly as much experience with streptocarpus as I do with African violets, but if the bloom stalk is strong and the little leaflet has enough green (you didn’t mention whether it is a standard or variegated strep) then I would give it shot to see what happens. I have tried this method with bloom stalks from chimeral African violets but I usually lose the them, so I stick with growing from suckers (offshoots). Let me know how it goes!

    Jean

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