Episode 104: strawberry saxifrage aka Saxifraga stolonifera

Saxifraga stolonifera  ‘Maroon Beauty’. Photograph: Jane Perrone

Saxifraga stolonifera ‘Maroon Beauty’. Photograph: Jane Perrone

Transcript

[music]

Jane: Hello, and welcome to On the Ledge, the podcast that keeps your house plants perky, with the added bonus of banishing existential anguish for a minimum of 30 minutes. It's hot as Hades here in the UK this week, and for that reason I'm keeping things to the point this week because my podcast recording studio is stiflingly hot and I can't have the fan on when I'm recording because I'd send myself, and probably you, to sleep with all that white noise. So, I'm sitting here, literally with a flannel around my neck, a damp flannel around my neck, and a damp flannel around my feet in an attempt to stay cool. There's a mental image for you. The things I do for you podcast listeners, but don't feel too sorry for me because you know this show is just so much fun to make. And in fact, particularly this episode because I'm dedicating episode 104 to a plant that I have fallen head over heels in love with, the strawberry saxifrage, or Saxifraga stolonifera. And, I'll also be answering a question about the ZZ plant cultivar known as Raven.

[music]

Jane: So why am I dedicating a whole show to a single species and one that's far less ubiquitous than other plants I've devoted a whole episode to, such as the spider plant? Well, as I said, there's only one reason and one reason only, and that's because I absolutely love it so deal people. I'm going to be talking about the strawberry saxifrage today and I hope by the end of the episode that I will have convinced you that this is a really great plant.

It's one of those species, like the Rat's Tail Cactus and maybe the African Violet and possibly the Ming Aralia, that transports me straight back to the late 1970's, early 80's where I could usually be found wearing a pair of Nike knockoff trainers, brown cords, and a pudding bowl haircut. Yes, I basically looked like Will Byers out of Stranger Things if you happen to be watching that show, and if I was anywhere where there were house plants, I would just be checking out those plants and making mental if not literal notes in my copy of Dr. Hessayon's "Houseplant Expert." And back then, this plant, Saxifraga sarmentosa as it was known then it's now been renamed to Saxifraga stolonifera, you'd see this plant with its scalloped purple-backed hairy leaves spilling over the sides of the pot that maybe was a bit too small on a windowsill, or hanging up, festering with baby plants, trailing with the parents like so many little leafy jellyfish. It also sends up tall flower spikes every summer, which get covered in teeny-tiny white flowers like little butterflies. Now I have seen these described as insignificant, which I think is rather unfair because I think they're rather beautiful. Saxifraga stolonifera,I love the way that rolls off my tongue, has a lot of common names, including strawberry geranium (it's not a geranium, it's a saxifrage), strawberry begonia (it's not a begonia it's a saxifrage), creeping Charlie, beefsteak plant, and mother of thousands. I think the beefsteak bit comes from the fact that the leaves really are quite chunky and thick and succulent, a bit like a beefsteak begonia. And also the red colour of the underside of the leaves gives it that kind of meaty feel. Both of the specific epithets, that's the second part of the Latin name of this plant, sarmentosaas once was and now stolonifera, refer to the plants habit of producing these wire-thin stolons, or runners, just like the strawberry plant, and that's where the common name, strawberry blah comes from. And on the end of those, or actually along the length of those, sometimes you get new baby plants growing. So, once you've got one plant, you'll soon have plenty to share with friends and family.

One of the things I love about this plant is the fact that it's part of a relatively unusual subset of houseplants. It can survive outside, in a shelter spot, in temperate gardens in most parts of the UK, so it might be able to get down to about minus 5, although if it's a more exposed and wet spot, it might pass away in a really severe winter here in the UK, but oftentimes it will solider on through. It's worth noting that there aren't a lot of plants that can be put in the same category in that it can be outside or inside successfully over winter. The only ones I can think of are the Aspidistra**elatiorof course, or the cast iron plant, and Dr. Hessayon does suggest that you can grow the box plant, Buxus sempervirens,inside as well. On that one, I've never tried it. I can imagine it might work in a drafty entrance hall to a building, but I suspect that box might suffer from a lot of pests if you try to bring it inside long-term. But the benefit of growing strawberry saxifrage over growing Aspidistra is it's just so much faster growing. You might be waiting months for a new Aspidistra leaf to emerge, but the saxifrage keeps pumping out new leaves all the time throughout the growing season.

Like the spider plant we talked about in episode 101, you can leave the babies on to create a lovely chandelier effect, or let them drape onto the soil until they root, and then once they're really well established you can then cut away that umbilical cord to the parent plant of that stolon and make a whole new plant. And it's not surprising really I guess that outside these make fantastic spreading ground cover in a semi-shady or shady spot. I wouldn't call it invasive because it's very easy to pull out those baby plants on stolon's if they go out of bounds. And you might find that your plant is naturally controlled by slugs and snails which seem to have a bit of a liking for this plant as I discovered to my peril when I left my Saxifraga stoloniferaKinki Purple outside and it got monstered by slugs.

Now it's getting devilishly hot in here and even the flannel is starting to suffer in the heat so I'm going to head indoors to my Saxifraga sarmentosa collection -- I call it a collection, it's two plants -- to discuss how to look after these plants in the house. So, I will see you in a couple of sweaty moments. Just a sec.

[door opens, closes]

Jane: We've retreated inside to the sun room which is thankfully north-facing so it's actually not too bad in here. It's 30 degrees centigrade right now, don't ask me to convert that to Fahrenheit, but it is hot. However, what we're here to look at is my strawberry saxifrages which are over here on an east, let me see if it works out, yes east facing windowsill, which is ideal for these plants in that they're getting lots of light but they're not being too blasted with hot sun, and I've got two here, both planted in terracotta pots. These plants like quite a lot of water, and by putting them in a terracotta pot, I can know I can water them really generously during the summer without risking them getting too waterlogged because those terracotta pots are porous and so the excess water can leave really easily via evaporation and not just through the bottom of the pot so that keeps them in pretty good shape. And I've actually had the blind down today with the plants behind them because there's been so much hot sun coming through the roof here that I need to lift up this blind to have a look at them, so they are on the windowsill here with some calathea and my new rhaphidophora cutting, thank you Dave Wormer for that, which was a swap with a calathea musaica so that worked out really nicely, and my cutting is doing well Dave in case you were wondering. But we're here to talk about the saxifragia sarmentosa slashstolonifera.

So, I've got these two plants that I absolutely adore. One is the tricolour, the beautiful green, olive-green leaves, with a white edge that's also tinged pink. Now that level of pink varies depending on how much light the plant's getting, but the stems, the hairs on the stems, and this is also a very hairy plant, are also tinged pink, and the underside is bright pink too and it's just such a gorgeous combination of colours, and the shape of the leaves is really pleasing as well. And if you're a person who's a tactile person, you like to give a leaf a bit of a stroke, then strawberry saxifrage is a wonderful thing to stroke. Kind of bristly, not smooth like Gesneria but still rather tactile and nice to touch. So, I've got that plant and I've got a baby of that plant which I've just removed from the soil around the plant because these stolons will go into the soil and make new babies. So I've got a plant which is going to somebody on a houseplant swap group and I'm going to hopefully be making more babies for a waiting list of people for that Saxifraga stolonifera tricolour.I can't remember where I got this plant from, it was a swap so apologizes if it was you. Thank you if it was you. And this is a wonderful thing about this plant, is that as it's common name, mother of thousands, suggests, it's very easy to spread it around.

The other specimen I've got is a Saxifraga stoloniferaMaroon Beauty. Now I have had a bit of a track record of allowing slugs to munch these things. I did have another plant, Kinki Purple, which was slugged in the garden and didn't make it, but I've managed to save my Maroon Beauty in time. I just need to learn to bring these plants inside sooner. And the Maroon Beauty that I've got, it's flowered beautifully, and the leaves are darker, darker green than the tricolour but with this silvery network of veins, which is absolutely gorgeous, and that plant is just recovering from it's slugging and doing absolutely fine. So, lots of water in the growing season is key. Tail that off into the wintertime and make sure that the potting mix is quite free draining so that you're not allowing water to sit around the roots of the plant. As this plant can live outside in, well down to freezing temperatures, not surprisingly it can cope with really quite cold environments indoors, so if you've got an unheated room this could do very well here. Obviously, it's 30 degrees in here right now, and the plant's doing ok so it obviously can survive at higher temperatures but I am keeping a very close eye out for any insect damage because that's much more likely to happen at these high temperatures, when the plant is no doubt a little bit stressed. And that's why I'm keeping the blinds down, just to stop it getting too much light as well because it is very, very bright at the minute.

Watering, we've talked about feeding, really it just needs the usual kind of weekly, weekly feed during the summer, so time duration once a week is fine, but provided that you're doing a weak solution of feed, half strength perhaps, would be absolutely fine throughout the growing season, and that seems to be doing my plants very, very well. And these stolons, what's fascinating about them is that they're these points on the stolons, and I think they're called scales, where the stolons can actually split off and make different divisions and branch off and make several plants from one stolon, which makes them extra productive which is great. And sometimes that's happened to me, you don't realize that a stolon has actually made a baby, and you'll lift up some leaves and you'll find there's a baby plant underneath where you least expected it. So, it's just a really, really rewarding and lovely plant and I'm so glad to have them in my collection and I really want to extend my collection to get as many of these cultivars as possible. So, I'm going to head back to the studio now to talk about some of the other cultivars available in the Saxifraga stolonifera world. Ok, I'm bracing myself for the heat. I'm just going to put the blind down, flannel back on the neck and back to the studio.

[ door opens, music]

Jane: We'll be back to talk cultivars shortly, but first let's hear from this week's sponsor.

This weeks On the Ledge is supported by Ecofective, a company that's passionate about helping you raise beautiful plants with products that have minimal impact on the environment. Ecofective's houseplant products work brilliantly to keep your leafy charges in great shape, but they're also safe for use around children, pets and bees. I've been using their Houseplant Boost Fertilizer for over a year now, and I love how convenient it is; no fiddling around working out how much you need to put in your watering can, just pour direct onto the soil. It's 100 percent natural and organic and you can use it on most houseplants including indoor grown peppers, tomatoes, chilis, and herbs. And their Houseplant Defender Spray is perfect for tackling pests like aphids and spider mites and also helps control powdery mildew. And it's pesticide free.

Ecofective's products are available online, at selected garden centres, and home base stores across the UK. Find out more and locate your nearest stockist at ecofective.uk.com, that's www.ecofective.uk.com.

[music]

Jane: This is going to be a relatively short section because there aren't that many cultivars of the strawberry saxifrage to collect as far as I know. I'm working off a list that I found on the Saxifrage Society website, which lists about 12 cultivars. Now, bearing in mind, having looked at all of these, there are many that seem almost impossible to get your hands on, and only a few of them are commonly available, but it does seem like there might be more, certainly than I have in my collection, that I might be able to eventually source. I guess part of the reason why is that this plant just hasn't been very popular as a houseplant or indeed as a garden plant over the last few years, although obviously On the Ledge is hoping to change that. This plant did virtually disappear off the houseplant worlds radar for quite a few years until the last few years when it does seem to be becoming more and more popular.

So, the two I have I've already mentioned, stolonifera tricolour and the Maroon Beauty. I also mentioned that I had a Kinki Purple, which I unfortunately lost to slugs. Now you're maybe wondering about the name, kinki, spelled k-i-n-k-i. Now this plant was collected by the well-regarded plant hunters Bleddyn and Sue Wynn-Jones who run a nursery in Wales called Crûg Farm, famous for their rare and exotic plants mainly for gardens, and they collected this particular cultivar from Honshu in Japan in 1997 on the Kinki Peninsula, which explains the name. It's not anything to do with the leaves being kinky, it's just named after the place it was found. On the Crûg Farm website, Kinki Purple is described as having "conspicuous rounded intricately veined purple green leaves, creating a dense evergreen carpet of over lapping softly hairy foliage, affording glimpses of the red purple undersides." I'm looking forward to getting my hands on one of these again so I can actually make a really good comparison between Maroon Beauty and Kinki Purple and see what the differences are because I can't quite tell. I'm sure once I've got the two plants in front of me, I will be able to see how they're different.

Crûg Farm also has a cultivar called hime, h-i-m-e, that I haven't seen or grown, but this is supposed to be a very compact cultivar, and I'd love to get my hands on that one too. I can feel a Crûg Farm order coming on in fact... And the interesting thing about that is that strawberry saxifrage isn't' that big in the first place, so I'm guessing that hime must be really, really tiny. And the other cultivar that I would love is see is one called, and I can't really pronounce this correctly I suspect, Shichihenge, s-h-i-c-h-i and then henge, which seems like one of those Atlantis plants, that only exists on the net as photographs. But it's, the leaves are mainly cream, with some green splashes on them, and it looks absolutely amazing. I'd love to get a hold of that one, but it does seem to be only available in Japan and the surround countries. The other one that does seem occasionally available is called, and again this is slightly hard to pronounce, Hsitou Silver, h-s-i-t-o-u Silver, which has extra silvery leaves, and that one sounds special too. Sometimes you can tell. I've got quite a few strawberry saxifrages to be adding to my collection, so there may be some intensive net searches going on in an effort to track down these plants.

I also wanted to tell you one other fascinating thing I discovered about the strawberry saxifrage and that's that in Japan where this plant is a native, it's actually eaten as an edible. I found a really interesting LA Times blog which explains that the Japanese name for this plant as an edible is yuki-no-shita, which translates as 'under the snow.' And apparently in Japan the leaves are raw or cooked in dishes such as tempura, which is fascinating. And indeed, it is listed on the plant for a future website as an edible, I'll put a link to that in my show notes. I was going to say I haven't tried eating it so I'm not vouching for its tastiness, but it does appear that it's not at least going to poison you, but it does appear that it's at least a non-toxic plant that you could eat if you chose to. And if any Japanese listeners out there can give me a bit more information about how this plant is consumed, I would love to hear about it because I am always fascinated by edible houseplants as I've mentioned before oxalis triangularis, the purple shamrock, it has lovely lemony flavoured leaves, but there aren't many edible plants in the houseplant range so it's good to hear of this one. But don't worry much about all these cultivars because actually the species, strawberry saxifrage, is really, really beautiful and a plant well worth having. So, if you see a friend with one of these plants, then do beg a baby plant and within weeks you'll end up with your own set of strawberry saxifrage babies, that's how generous this plant is.

[water pouring sounds]

Jane: Now it's time for question of the week which comes from Chris, who asks about the Zamioculcas zamiifolia**cultivar, Raven. Chris wants to know, "Given it's dark foliage, do you know whether this plant requires more or less light than the green variety, or is their care exactly the same? And he adds, "On the plants label, and elsewhere, I've seen it called dowton, d-o-w-t-o-n. I wondered if this is its official variety name and Raven a more commercially viable one."

Great question Chris! I loved researching this one. It's a really interesting story. I got in touch with Costa Farms who won the Best New Plant at the 2018 Tropical plant industry exhibition in Florida for Raven, so they know about this plant very well. I asked Justin Hancock from Costa Farms to comment on this and he came back with the following:

"We've found no difference in lighting preferences between Raven and traditional Zamioculcas. It tolerates equally low light. We've also found no appreciable differences in it's watering needs. Culturally, it's no different than the species -- so if a consumer can grow the species successfully, they shouldn't have any different experience with Raven, other than its slower growth rate and the way the foliage changes colour as it matures."

So that's interesting. The point about the colour changing foliage is very true. Lots of people do worry when they get this plant because the new foliage comes out and it is pale and interesting as opposed to dark and mysterious, but the foliage does darken with age. As the leaf grows more mature, so the anthocyanins kick in, or whichever particular pigment it is that's providing the purple black element to the leaf, that kicks in and the leaf goes dark.

He also mentioned slower growth rate. I wanted to dig a bit further into this plant because Chris also raised the issue of the name 'dowton,' and so I managed to find the original patent for this plant. There's a US patent application for this plant though interestingly, the plant is given the name dowon, d-o-w-o-n. Now I know that I've seen it often described on various websites in the UK and in the US as having the official name dowton, d-o-w-t-o-n, but the patent that lists it as d-o-w-o-n, so I'm not sure how the extra T has slipped in there. Certainly, the RHS listings for this plant has it as dowon and I'm going to go by the patent because that is the original kind of source information. In a way it's immaterial because this plant, as Chris has indicated, is marketed as Raven. This often happens, where there's kind of an official plant breeders name and then there's a commercial name given to the plant. You often get it with things like the Rose Harlow Carr has the official breeders name Aushouse, they all seem to start with Aus for some reason, so you get these different names that are used in the trade as opposed to the commercial name. But the patent is also interesting for another reason, because it does give a very detailed description of the plant and its background, and it tells us that this new variety named dowon was discovered in 2006 by the inventor at the inventor's nursery at Segok-dong, Seoul, South Korea. And the person who submitted the patent is called Hyuk Jin Lee, and the patent notes that:

"The inventor observed that a single plant of typically green-foliaged Zamioculcas had produced on one of its compound leaves a set of leaflets with uncharacteristically very dark green coloration, tending to darken further as the leaflets expanded. When fully expanded, the leaflets, rachis and petiole became entirely black or near-black. Zamioculcas may be propagated from individual leaflet cuttings. The inventor continued to observe the original plant for many months before carrying out the first asexual propagation in 2006 using black leaflets."

And indeed, those black leaflets rooted and the plant that we know and love resulted from that propagation. It adds, "The inventor has determined that 'Dowon' reproduces true to type in successive generations of asexual reproduction via leaflet cuttings." So, this is an example where a sport has emerged from regular plant production. This plant has randomly thrown out these dark green leaves and the person at the nursery then took the ball and run with it and made new plants out of it. The only real difference between the species and this cultivar appears to be that it's just slower growing as is noted in the patent. Dowon may also be compared with the species, Zamioculcas zamiifolia bythe rate of growth of new leaves arising from a rooted leaf cutting. The inventor has observed that a mature, 60 centimeters height, fully black plant of dowon may take 7 to 8 months to produce compared with 3 to 4 months for production of green Zamioculcas zamiifolia.

So, there you go. The plant is significantly slower growing. And Chris, that really is the only difference between the species and the cultivar that you're likely to experience. It does look like you can put it in exactly the same conditions, and it will do just as well. Do bear in mind that this plant does have a PBR in it. Plant Breeders Rights means that although you can propagate this plant for your own personal use, you can't propagate it to sell, so that's just worth bearing in mind if you happen to be propagating lots of Raven right now.

So dowon, dowton, or Raven, whatever you like to call it, it's a wonderful plant, and it is becoming more widely available now, so if you can get your hands on one, then do give it a go because I think it's gorgeous. And if you've got a question for On the Ledge, drop me a line to .

Thanks to John and Fula for becoming Patreons this week! If you'd like to find our how, visit my show notes at www.janeperrone.com. And the first transcript has now gone up for my spider plant episode, do go and take a look and how that works on the page, and tell me what you think. Is it useful, is it easy to access? I would love to hear from you if transcripts are important to you, and I'll be adding transcripts to shows going forward as I've already said.

And in more exciting news, from September I'm going to be offering my Patreon subscribers of $5 a month or a more a chance to listen to an ad-free version of the podcast. So if you're a Legend or one of my On the Ledge superfans, paying $5 or $10 a month, you can listen to the show ad-free. So that'll start on September 6^th^because I'm taking a break from the show for three weeks from August 16^th^to August 30^th^so that I can recharge my batteries, so from September onwards that ad-free version will be available on the Patreon feed. Whenever there is an episode with ads in it just head on over to Patreon to hear the ad-free version.

That about wraps things up for this week. You now have my permission to go out and search desperately for strawberry saxifrages in your area and beyond. And maybe if you've got some plants that you want to share with fellow members of On the Ledge, do list them on the Houseplant Fans of On the Ledge Facebook group, which is the most friendly house plant group in the universe. Do come and join us and share your plants. Have a great week, bye!

[music]

Jane: The music you heard in this week's episode was Roll Jordan Rollby The Joy Drops and Overthrownby Josh Woodward, with advertising music by the Heftone Banjo Orchestra with the trackWhistling Rufus.

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I love strawberry saxifrage (Saxifraga stolonifera) so much I just had to dedicate a whole episode to this lovely plant: and question of the week concerns the beautiful dark-leaved foliage plant Zamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Raven’.

Pink leaf undersides on  Saxifraga stolonifera  ‘Tricolor’. Photograph: Jane Perrone

Pink leaf undersides on Saxifraga stolonifera ‘Tricolor’. Photograph: Jane Perrone

Strawberry saxifrage It’s one of those plants - like the rat’s tail cactus and the African violet and the ming aralia - that transports me straight back to the late 1970s early 80s. This plant was popular then, but had become rather neglected until the current houseplant craze got under way.

I am glad it’s back, because I love everything about it, from the scalloped, purple-backed hairy leaves to the red stolons that become festooned with baby plants trailing from the parent like so many leafy jellyfish: not to mention the tall flower spikes thrown up every summer, which are covered in teeny tiny white flowers like little butterflies.

Saxifraga stolonifera has a lot of common names, including strawberry geranium, strawberry begonia, creeping charlie, beefsteak plant, and mother of thousands. It also used to have a different Latin name, Saxifraga sarmentosa. Both those specific epithets, the second part of the Latin name, sarmentosa and stolonifera, refer to the plant’s habit of producing wire-thin stolons or runners, just like strawberries, on the end of which grow new plants. Once you have one plant, you’ll soon have plenty to share with friends and family

Strawberry saxifrage growing in Japan. Photograph:  TANAKA Juuyoh (田中十洋)  on  Flickr .

Strawberry saxifrage growing in Japan. Photograph: TANAKA Juuyoh (田中十洋) on Flickr.

Strawberry saxifrage is part of a relatively unusual subset of houseplants that can survive outside in a sheltered spot in temperate gardens: and there really aren’t a lot of those, other than Aspidistra elatior or the cast iron plant. But unlike the aspidistra, the strawberry saxifrage grows pretty fast, and within weeks or months it should be throwing out babies. Like the spider plant, you can leave these on to create a lovely chandelier effect, or let them drape onto soil until they root, then cut away the umbilical cord and make a new plant. 

In their native Japan, they are known as yuki-no-shita, which translates to "under the snow,” and the leaves are eaten raw or used for tempura. More on that in this LA Times blog. There’s more on the edibility of this plant on the Plants For A Future website.

Strawberry saxifrage care tips

A dinky baby saxifrage newly potted up. Photograph: Jane Perrone.

A dinky baby saxifrage newly potted up. Photograph: Jane Perrone.

Outside, they make great spreading ground cover in a shady spot, but do look out for slugs and snails which seem to love them. Indoors  they will adapt to a wide range of conditions - obviously they can cope with unheated chilly rooms but will also be fine at higher temperatures. Mine are in terracotta pots on an east facing windowsill. They’ll enjoy relatively generous watering during the growing season, but mine are in terracotta to make sure they don’t get waterlogged. In terms of the potting mix, make sure it’s free-draining by adding some grit or perlite to a good quality houseplant soil. In the winter cut back on the watering as growth slows down.

The advice is usually to water from below if you can so that the leaves don’t get splashed,  but of course outside they are going to get wet, so I don’t bother too much on this front. Feed with regular houseplant fertiliser “weekly, weakly”.

Strawberry saxifrage cultivars

The Saxifrage society website, lists a few cultivars, but this isn’t a plant with loads of different strawberry saxifrages to collect.

I have two at the moment, S. stolonifera ‘Tricolor’, and ‘Maroon Beauty’. ‘Tricolor’ is wonderful - green leaves with edges dipped in white, and a pinkish red blush that waxes and wanes according to how much light the plant gets. ‘Maroon Beauty’ has darker olive leaves which are maroon on the undersides.

S. stolonifera  ‘Maroon Beauty’. Photograph: Jane Perrone.

S. stolonifera ‘Maroon Beauty’. Photograph: Jane Perrone.

‘Kinki Purple’ was collected by well-regarded plant hunters Bleddyn & Sue Wynne-Jones of Crûg Farm Nurseries in the Kinki Peninsula in Honshu Japan in 1997. This one has dark green leaves with a silvery tracing all over them. 

Crûg Farm also has a cultivar called ‘Hime’ that I haven’t seen let alone grown: it’s a more compact cultivar which I’d love to get my hands on. There’s also S. stolonifera ‘Shichihenge’ which seems one of those Atlantis plants that only exists on the net as photographs, but it’s mostly cream and looks amazing. ‘Hsitou Silver’ has extra silvery leaves but is similarly hard to source and ‘Harvest Moon’ has pale leaves.

Buying tip: this plant is often sold by nurseries that specialise in outdoor plants, and it tends to be cheaper to buy that way than if it’s marketed as a houseplant.

Question of the week

Listener Chris wanted to know whether dark-leaved Zamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Raven’ requires more or less light than the green-leaved species, and what the alternative name ‘Dowton’ was all about. I got in touch with Justin Hancock of Costa Farms in the US who told me:

We've found no difference in lighting preferences between Raven and traditional Zamioculcas. It tolerates equally low light. We've also found no appreciable differences in it watering needs. Culturally, it's no different than the species -- so if a consumer can grow the species successfully, they shouldn't have any different experience with Raven, other than its slower growth rate and the way the foliage changes color as it matures.

I also found a patent for this plant which lists its official name as ‘Dowon’ although this does seem to have been mistyped as ‘Dowton’ as it’s also given this name on many nursery sites: but the name it’s usually marketed under is ‘Raven’. They are, however, the same plant.

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

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

If you are in the Glasgow area, listener Steve tee is planning a meetup! Join the Facebook group or contact me to get involved.

There’s a London Plant Crawl happening on July 28 - details here.

Join me at Lullingstone Castle in Kent in the UK on September 21 and 22 2019 for Cactusworld Live where I’ll be doing a live recording of On The Ledge and holding a listener meetup.

The following weekend I’ll be at the Garden Museum on Sunday September 29 for their Houseplant Festival: I’ll be helping out with the houseplant clinic, and there’s also the chance to take part in workshops and browse an awesome range of stalls from some of my favourite houseplant shops!


This week’s sponsor - Ecofective

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Thanks to Ecofective for supporting this week’s show. Ecofective is a UK company that’s passionate about helping you raise beautiful plants with products that have minimal impact on the environment: Ecofective’s houseplant products work brilliantly to keep your leafy charges in great shape, but they’re also safe for use around children pets and bees. 

I’ve been using their Houseplant Boost fertiliser for over a year now, and I love how convenient it is - no fiddling about working out how much you need to put in your watering can, just pour direct onto the soil. It’s 100% natural and organic, and You can use it on most houseplants including indoor grown peppers, tomatoes, chillies and herbs. And their Houseplant Defender spray is perfect for tackling pests like aphids and red spider mite, and also helps to control powdery mildew: and it’s pesticide free. 

Ecofective’s products are available online, at selected garden centres and Homebase stores across the UK: Find out more and locate your nearest stockist at ecofective.uk.com.


LOVE THE SHOW? HERE’S HOW TO SUPPORT ON THE LEDGE …

If you have the third of a price of a cup of takeaway coffee to spare once a month, you can support On The Ledge financially. Every patron now has the chance to download an exclusive artwork by listener Nathaniel Oles, as a reward for reaching my goal of 100 patrons.

Just $1 a month helps to pay for all the things that have made the show possible over the last two years: equipment, travel expenses, editing, not to mention my time! For $5 a month, you get access to two extra episodes a month, known as An Extra Leaf.

I’ve recently added a new $10 tier, which gives you membership of the On The Ledge listener advisory board, a new group helping to decide the future direction of the show: you’ll also receive a personal greeting from me in the mail including a limited edition postcard. You can see all the tiers and sign up for Patreon here.

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 Apple PodcastsStitcher or wherever you listen. It's lovely to read your kind comments, and it really helps new listeners to find the show.

CREDITS

This week's show featured the tracks Roll Jordan Roll by the Joy Drops and Overthrown by Josh Woodward. Ad music is by the Heftone Banjo Orchestra with Whistling Rufus. All tracks licensed under Creative Commons.

Logo design by Jacqueline Colley.