Episode 54: Streptocarpus and other Gesneriads with Dale Martens

Primulinas not only have beautiful flowers, many also boast beuaitful variegated foliage.

Primulinas not only have beautiful flowers, many also boast beuaitful variegated foliage.

Regular listeners to On The Ledge podcast will have heard me waffle on many times about how much I love Streptocarpus. The name may be easily confused with a throat infection (it actually refers to the plant's twisted seedpod) but this genus is an under-appreciated  gem of the houseplant world.

It's a member of a wider family called the Gesneriads, which also includes the African violets, the Achimenes (aka hot water plants), Sinningia, Primulina (aka Chirita), Columnea, Episcia (aka flame violet), Petrocosmea and Kohleria.

I speak to Dale Martens of the Gesneriad Society to find out everything from what to pot them in to why breeding your own Streptocarpus may just involve a trip to the dentist (really). 

Dale Martens' hybrid Streptocarpus ‘Texas Hot Chili’ exhibited by Dibleys at the 2007 Chelsea flower show.

Dale Martens' hybrid Streptocarpus ‘Texas Hot Chili’ exhibited by Dibleys at the 2007 Chelsea flower show.

Below is a list of information sources about Gesneriads followed by a list of the plants we mention in the interview - do scroll down to see more images of the diverse Gesneriad family and Dale's own plants. If you are a Patreon subscriber of $5 or more a month you can hear another chunk of chat with Dale going into more detail about Streptocarpus hybridisation and also raising Gesneriads under grow lights: that episode of On The Ledge: An Extra Leaf is here. Confused about Patreon? Scroll down this post for more information about how it works and useful links.  

Streptocarpus 'Dale's Ring Of Fire'.

Streptocarpus 'Dale's Ring Of Fire'.

  • If you're interested in Gesneriads, consider joining the Gesneriad Society and/or checking out their series of webinars which can be downloaded from the Society's shop. Their 2018 convention is happening from July 3 to 7 in Framingham, Massachusetts, at the Sheraton Framingham Hotel and Conference Centre.

  • If Streptocarpus are your thing the British Streptocarpus Society could be for you ... their show is on July 14 in Brownhills, Staffordshire in the UK and non-members are welcome.

  • In the UK Dibleys Nurseries is the best place to buy all kinds of Gesneriads.

  • Gesneriad.info, the Gesneriad Reference Web, is also an excellent online resource.

  • Matt Candeias recently interviewed Jay Sespico about Gesneriads in his In Defense of Plants podcast

  • Listen to me chat to Rex Dibley of Dibley's Nurseries about Streptocarpus at the Chelsea flower show in May 2017.

In this episode, Dale and I mention:

Dale with one of her prizewinning hybrids, S. 'Dale's Polar Canary'.

Dale with one of her prizewinning hybrids, S. 'Dale's Polar Canary'.

If you're curious to learn more about Gesneriads, check out this  free webinar  from the Gesneriad Society. There are also several other webinars available to buy from the  Gesneriad Society shop .

If you're curious to learn more about Gesneriads, check out this free webinar from the Gesneriad Society. There are also several other webinars available to buy from the Gesneriad Society shop.

Some of Dale Martens' Streptocarpus collection, grown under lights using the wick watering system.

Some of Dale Martens' Streptocarpus collection, grown under lights using the wick watering system.

Episcias look great in hanging containers. Photograph: Dale Martens

Episcias look great in hanging containers. Photograph: Dale Martens

This  Columnea microphylla  won Canadian Beverley Williams the Best Other Gesneriad category at the 2018 African violet convention in New York recently. Photograph: the Gesneriad Society

This Columnea microphylla won Canadian Beverley Williams the Best Other Gesneriad category at the 2018 African violet convention in New York recently. Photograph: the Gesneriad Society

Sinningia 'Dale's Coral Fiesta'.

Sinningia 'Dale's Coral Fiesta'.

Question of the week

The parrot flower in all its glory Photograph:  Andy Roberts  on  Flickr

The parrot flower in all its glory Photograph: Andy Roberts on Flickr

Listener 'Knee Kapps' wants to know how to save their leggy, miserable Impatiens niamniamensis aka the parrot plant. I suspect the problem is not enough light, which is causing the flowers to drop and the plant to get all lanky. Like other impatiens, this plant needs bright light but not direct sunlight and a constantly moist soil. Check out this piece by Bob Flowerdew for more info on this fascinating plant. 

Want to ask me a question? Tweet @janeperrone, leave a message on my Facebook page or email ontheledgepodcast@gmail.com

Are you supporting On The Ledge on Patreon yet? 

If you like the idea of supporting On The Ledge on a regular basis but don't know what Patreon's all about, check out the FAQ here: if you still have questions, leave a comment or email me - ontheledgepodcast@gmail.com. If you're already supporting others via Patreon, just click here to set up your rewards!

For those who prefer to make a one-off donation, you can still buy me a coffee! A donation of just £3 helps keep On The Ledge going: helping to pay for me to travel to interviews, and for expenses like website hosting and audio equipment. Don't forget to join the Facebook page for news of what's coming up on the show and bonus blogposts!

If you prefer to support the show in other ways, please do go and rate and review On The Ledge on iTunesStitcher or wherever you listen. It's lovely to read your kind comments, and it really helps new listeners to find the show.

On The Ledge talks, live show and houseplant chats 

I am going to be at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show on the afternoon of July 4 (next week!) giving talks on houseplants in the roses theatre at 1pm and 4pm - do join me if you can. And on the evening of Friday October 26 I'll be bringing a live show of On The Ledge to the RHS London Urban Garden show, with special guests including Alys Fowler and all kinds of leafy fun! Put those dates in your diary NOW!

Credits

This week's show featured Roll Jordan Roll by the Joy DropsAn Instrument the Boy Called Happy Day Gokarna and A Man Plays Trekking Song on Fewa Lake by Samuel Corwin, and Overthrown by Josh Woodward, all licensed under Creative Commons.

Jane Perrone