Miniature Streptocarpus – Streptocarpus (miniatures)

Miniature Streptocarpus are tiny forms of the Cape Primrose which come from South Africa and were first introduced tc Britain in the early 19th century. Over the past 20 years they have become popular as house plants, and many new forms have been developed.

The normal-sized Cape Primrose has a height and spread of 45cm (18in), bul the new miniature forms have leaves no longer than 8-15cm (3-6in) and can be grown in 8cm (3in) pots.

The leaves are wrinkled and coarse textured.

Display ideas

Display lined up along a narrow windowsill, or grouped together in a shallow dish to make a miniature garden.

VarietiesMiniature Streptocarpus - Streptocarpus (miniatures)

The following varieties all have leaves no longer than 15cm (6in) and can be obtained from specialist nurseries.

  • Paula (Dusky purple)
  • Snow White (White, freesia-like flowers. Free flowering and compact).
  • Ruby (Wine red to rich purple)
  • Mini-Nymph (Violet
  • blue, with deeper vein-like markings)
  • Little Gems (Pink or blue)
  • Mighty Mouse (Mauve)
  • Poor Prince (Lavender)
  • China Doll (Ruffled pink)

Seeds of Delta and Baby Blue (both lavender to mauve) are available from seed firms.

Propagation

Seed

Plants grown from seed will produce flowers in a range of colours, or shades of one colour. The seed is exceptionally tiny and should not be covered with the seed compost.

1 Sow the seeds thinly on the surface of the compost. Use a peat-based seed compost that you have already moistened and cover the surface of the pot or seed tray with stretched clingfilm to retain moisture and keep the trapped air humid. Stand in bright light but out of direct sun. Ideally, use a heated propagator. Germination will take about 10-14 days.

2 When the seedlings are several weeks old and large enough to handle, pot them up singly in small pots, or plant them out 2.5-5cm (1-2in) apart in a larger container.

3 Seed sown in late February or early March and kept warm can produce lovely small flowering plants appearing during summer or early autumn.

Leaf cuttingsMiniature Streptocarpus

To ensure new plants true to type, Streptocarpus can be propagated by division or (more usually) by leaf cuttings. 1 In spring take off a mature, plump and healthy leaf right to the base. Cut it up into wedge-shaped pieces, each 5cm (21n) long. Plant the leaf section the right way up (wedge shape pointing downwards) about 13mm (½in) deep in an equal parts mixture of peat and sharp sand. Place in a propagator or enclose in a polythene bag.

In several weeks a number of small plant-lets will push up through the compost. When they are well developed, separate them and pot up individually in small pots of peat-based potting compost. The pots should be shallow. Place in bright light, free from draughts.

Plant Problems

Aphids may collect around the soft flower-stalks and flowers. Prevention: Keep a close watch for these insects and hand pick any aphid as soon as it is seen. Use an insecticide if necessary.

Crown rot can occur if the compost stays saturated for too long. Prevention: Reduce watering and allow a little drying out between applications.

PLANT CARE

These plants are easy to care for. Divide overcrowded clumps in spring, gently pulling the sections apart and potting them up separately.

  • Potting: Use a peat-based potting compost and small pots. 8Cm (3in) pots will suit most miniature forms. Repot in fresh compost in early spring each year.
  • Water generously while the plants are growing actively, allowing a little drying out between applications. Water very sparingly during the winter months.
  • Feeding: Feed established plants from April to September, every 2 weeks, with a liquid fertilizer high in potash (tomato-type). Do not feed in winter.

GROWING CONDITIONS

  • Light: Grow Miniature Streptocarpus throughout the year in bright filtered light.
  • Temperature: Normal room temperatures are suitable for Miniature Streptocarpus during the active growing season (end of March to September). Let the plants rest during the winter at 10°-13°C (50°-55°F).

The miniature forms of the Cape Primrose make unusual and decorative tiny house plants, and are very suitable for people who have limited space available.

When to buy

  • Miniature Streptocarpus are only available from specialist nurseries, usually by mail order. Order during the winter for spring delivery.
  • Do not accept any plant that shows any evidence of crown rot.
  • Properly cared for your Miniature Streptocarpus should give you years of pleasure.

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