HOW TO GROW CALCEOLARIA (slipper flower)

2-5 deg C/36-41 deg F

These very showy plants, mostly of Mexican or South American origin, bear masses of pouch-like flowers chiefly in shades of yellow and red. and are often exotically spotted and blotched in contrasting colour. They come into florists’ shops from just before Christmas until spring, and are popular gifts. They are biennials, mostly grown from F, hybrid seed, and should be discarded after flowering. Those sold by florists are usually dwarf and compact forms, but there are very impressive taller giant-flowered hybrids of C. x herbeohybrida which are not so transportable without damage. They are easily grown from seed in a frost-free greenhouse or frame. It is. of course, best to buy plants when they are just in bud and showing colour. They will then last in bloom for several weeks if kept cool, moist and shaded. Warmth and direct sunshine rapidly causes wilting. If this happens, do not apply more water unless the compost is dry. Saturating with water may instigate root or basal stem-rot. Wilted plants should be put in the shade and kept cool. They should then recover by morning.

Aphids are fond of calceolarias and plants should be carefully inspected for their presence before buying. Spraying as a preventive measure is best done early, when the plants are in bud. Spraying the flowers, even with water, is liable to cause brown spots or patches.

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