New Gesneriad Fan

Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

Thanks to some great DG friends I have started getting into Gesneriads. My first AV to bloom is the one pictured .. It was a NOID but after looking at pictures I'm thinking it might be Epsom Magic. Please correct me if I'm wrong .. I passed my personal test which was to keep my new plants alive and thriving for more than 6 months so I'm ready to jump in with both feet! I even weathered a fungus gnat infestation with no problems .. turned out to be that awful Miracle Grow AV soil. I ended up removing all the MG soil and replacing it with a mixture of ProMix - BX and vermiculite and perlite. I have them in a south facing window behind some white mini blinds and they are doing awesome!!! They seem to love the really bright but indirect/filtered light. I've also successfully started a new plant from a leaf! So proud of myself!

I have a lot to learn though and eventually want to get into the Sinningia's. I've been reading all the threads paying particular attention to the ones about problems and really am loving the pictures of all the different cultivars! I had no idea!

Xeramtheum

Thumbnail by Xeramtheum
Alum Bridge, WV

Welcome aboard. A word of caution, however. If you are the collector type, AVs can become an obsessiion or worse. I've met growers who have literally hundreds of AVs and desperately seek out those that have escaped their collection.

My advice, restraint and diversity. Your idea of Sinningias is a good one. You might also try Streps and perhaps Episcias.

I congratulate you on your working out of the potting soil problem, and you analysis of light conditions. You are on your way to being a grower!

Northeast, MO(Zone 5b)

I am so very proud of you, Anne!!! Your plant looks so happy and it's great to see you posting over here :))))

Connie

Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

Thanks for the welcome! I can certainly understand how Gesneriads can become an addiction! I already have a bunch of those - they are in the greenhouse at the moment .. I wanted to have something with blooms that would carry me through the winter in the house and Gesneriads seemed to be the perfect solution .. the more I started looking into the Gesneriad Family the more intrigued I became and discovered my Alsobia was in the Gesneriad Family! I read bunches of books from the library about AV's and they all seemed to say the brightest indirect light was the best so rather put them my new babies in a North facing window I decided to try the South facing with the blinds on it and wasn't disappointed with the results!

I'll wait a few months before I start trading for more or trying new genus's.

Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

Thanks Connie and thanks ever so much for giving me such a great start!!

Northeast, MO(Zone 5b)

Awe (blushing)...you just made my day. You are so welcome :)

There are lots of unique plants in the family. I would love to see a RR on here this spring.

Connie

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

Welcome to the world of Gesneriads!

Some Violets and a Kohleria cutting was how I got started a few years back.

The family of Gesneriaceae is very diverse. From tiny, tuberous herbs like Sinningia pusilla to small trees like Negria rhabdothamnoides.

There's a plethora of species, cultivars and hybrids to choose from, particularly in the genera Saintpaulia, Streptocarpus, Sinningia, Kohleria, Achimenes and Primulina (formerly known as Chirita).

Sinningias are probably the easiest of them all and come in a sheer endless variety of shapes, colors and sizes. They are generally easy to grow and bloom, are tolerant of neglect, are easy to propagate by means of cuttings, leaves and seeds.

If you ever want to try growing a Gesneriad from seed, try a mini Sinningia and you will most likely not be disappointed.

Kohlerias and Achimenes can be a bit trickier but are also generally easy. Like most other rhizomatous Gesneriads, they hate drying out when they're in active growth.

It's very easy to get carried away once you got the bug, so be a little careful. I speak from own experience - from about a dozen to over two hundred different Gessies in only a few months... LOL

What I would highly recommend to you is to look at the Gesneriad Society website for the next AV/Gesneriad club near you. Also, a Gesneriad Society membership is something to think about. It's 25 bucks a year and you get access to their seed fund, which is very cool!

http://www.gesneriadsociety.org/chapters/chapters.htm

Most importantly: Have fun and good growing! :)

Olaf

P.S.: Connie, I think that a Spring RR is an excellent idea!

Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

Thanks for the info and link! My biggest problem right now is when to water .. at the moment I'm going by how light the pot they are in - I don't really see any over signs that they need watering like other plants but I'm getting the hang of it I think.

I'm wondering if the toothpick in the soil trick would work with AV's .. as I understand it, you just stick a wooden toothpick in the soil next to the roots and you can lift it out .. if it's totally dry, water. Do you think that would be a good indicator?

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

It's always a good idea to picture a plant in its natural habitat to figure out a watering regimen.

Violets, for example, grow on steep, almost vertical cliff faces in cracks and crevices with a little bit of accumulates soil.

What this means is that they won't get all that much water and the roots won't stay wet for very long.

How this translates into a watering regimen is this: You should allow the mix to dry out a little between every watering. The larger the pot, the longer it will take the mix to dry.

This also explains why Violets are usually grown in small pots compared to the size of the plant.

Violets, like many other plants, can take a little bit of a dry spell much better than sitting in cold, soggy mix for a prolonged period of time.

Phelan, CA(Zone 8b)

I put my finger in the soil up to the first knuckle. If its dry there, I water. Also, after some practice, you can tell just by the weight of the pot when you lift it.

Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

Thanks for the watering tips. I've tried sticking my finger in the soil mix but I'm kind of worried about disturbing roots since the majority are in those small white plastic cups.

Kittrell, NC(Zone 7b)

Miss "X"!!! It's so good to see you again!! It seems to me like I tried to give you some av's several years ago when we traded datura seeds. My but doesn't time fly!!
Melanie

(Lynn) Omaha, NE(Zone 5a)

Welcome Anne! Sorry I'm late.Not too much computer time right now.

Lynn ^_^

Montgomery, AL

Welcome! A Spring Round Robin would be just the thing. Time to root some cuttings!

(Lynn) Omaha, NE(Zone 5a)

Me too.First I need to transplant everything I have started already LOL.

Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

Thanks for all the warm welcomes! I'm really lovin looking at all the gorgeous pictures! I'm hoping some of ya'll will be willing to trade some AVs for other plants since I'm so new to this family.

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

Not a problem. I can set you up with some Sinningias and Kohlerias if you like. I also grow some Begonias and Hoyas.

Since I'm in Chicago, this all will have to wait until Spring unfortunately...

The only thing I can ship right now are seeds. So, if you like to try Gessies from seed, just let me know and I can send you some. :)

Olaf

Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

Thanks Olaf! I can't take on anymore plants or seeds at the moment but in a month or so will be ready. Do AV seeds breed true to the parent?

If you are into morning glory, I have a bus load of rare, hard to find and unusual ones .. I also do a lot of crossing with them so I'm sure I'll get into that with the AV's down the road.

Here is a link to my seed trade list - I just updated it.

http://www.xeramtheum.com/X_Seed_Cat_2011.html

And here is a link to "The Best of 2011" - it will give you an idea of what I have available for trading.

http://www.xeramtheum.com/

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

Your seed list is, well, comprehensive! Wow!

As much as I love Morning Glorys, where I live right now, there's not enough sun for them. They are a common weed around here (I. purpurea) but there are NONE where I live. Go figure... LOL

I always have too many Gessie seeds in the fridge from my own plants (Mostly Sinningias but there is the occasional Streptocarpus seed pod...)

I don't know about Violets from seed but I would suspect that most of the hybrids won't come true - just like it is the case with most other plants. However, being such highly variable plants, there's a chance that you wind up with some real nice ones if you have the patience. Violet seed pods take several months to mature and growing out the seedlings takes another year or so to first bloom. Then you want to start selecting the promising ones and keep growing them through several cycles of bloom to make sure that the blooms are stable.

Sinningias are a bit quicker in that regard. Particularly Sinningia speciosa, micros and minis grow from seed to first bloom in only a few months and they can have several growth cycles (2-3) per year without ever going completely dormant.

Kohlerias grow from seed to first bloom in about 4-6 months. Most never go fully dormant for me and keep putting out new growth pretty much all year round.

In general, Gesneriads are not more difficult to grow from seed than any other plant. The one thing that can take some getting used to is the diminutive size of the seeds and seedlings. The seedlings might be tiny but they are also surprisingly tough!

Olaf

Big Flats, NY(Zone 5b)

Hi X, welcome to you! A tip on sowing the exceedingly fine seed Break each lot of seed you sow into quarters on separate little creased papers. Sow the contents of fist quarter evenly as you can in one direction. Rotate the container and sow the second quarter again as evenly as possible. I have done this hundreds and hundreds of times and know this really is helpful with truly tiny seed and fern spore. I have grown seed for decades to supplement my income. another great help id the realization that you probably do not have time or recourse to raise thousand and thousands of seedlings to a salable or growing on size. I do believe you will enjoy the hobby and have MUCH more happiness if you sow about a quarter of a pod or packet,perhaps keep another quarter in storage. and let the other half fall were they may! Lots and lots of joy to you! Did you ask if seeds come true? yes if there is nothing else in bloom closely related in flower! My friend, You are gonna have a ball! Lee Sherwood McDonald

Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

Thanks for the info Lee. I usually start my first wave of seeds for the new growing season starting in the last week of January .. I start them on heating pads and move them out to the greenhouse after weaning the seedlings off the heat. One thing I've always done is keep detailed records about what I germinate and cross as well as photographs. I've had a lot of experience with crossing and back crossing morning glory for desired traits. It will be interesting to see what variations occur with cotyledons and sepals with the difference species.

I'll be going through my catalog for the next few weeks deciding what I want to grow this year .. I also always grow out my oldest seeds every year for fresh. Growing Gesneriads from seed will have to wait until I get toward the ends of my germination waves.

Anne

Big Flats, NY(Zone 5b)

Anne, Pay no attention to me, You are an experienced soul!! I can't imagine why I thought you needed advice? I believe it had mostly to do with the number of gardeners who are flabbergasted by the size of seed for many Gesneriads?? If you have a moment I would love your opinion on good early blooming M.G.'s They tend to be very late bloomers for me up here in Siberia, N.Y. ! Lee Sherwood McDonald

South, TX

Welcome! I grow all of my Violets in semi hydro medium and it is working so well. I am tired of the "soil" and repotting.

I am so glad you are here! Your plant is so pretty. Continued good luck...Good growing!

Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

Pay no attention? Phooey! This lil old lady is venturing into uncharted territory and is delighted to have the great people on this forum as my compass!

Thanks Sally .. haven't gotten to the semi-hydro medium part .. sounds intriguing!

Columbus, OH

I'm a tricolor variegated/episcia/strep person, less of the AV's. Developing a sinningia habit as well! Gesneriads are sooooo addictive! They're mostly small, so you can always squeeze one more in, right??

Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

Yeah .. that's what I said about my tropical hibiscus .. my greenhouse is so stuffed with tropical and extra tropical plants at the moment I can hardly move in there!

My biggest space problem is plant munching kitties, God bless em, so I have somewhat of a limited space .. once I get the hang of it, I'll probably just concentrate on Sinningias and true doubled AV .. I'm a sucker for doubled flowers.

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Northeast, MO(Zone 5b)

AWE...PRECIOUS babies :)

You need to throw in a few Episcia plants on that list. You can grow them in a hanging basket if need be for extra room. There are a couple more members over here that love tropicals like I do and are trying to build up on those so you are a perfect match over here :::)))))))))

Connie

Columbus, OH

You can also use episcia to carpet the pots of large tropicals :)

(Lynn) Omaha, NE(Zone 5a)

Sounds beautiful!

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

A few Sinningia pusilla tubers or seeds planted in the pot of a moisture loving tropical will turn into a little colony in no time if left alone... :)

MSU, MS(Zone 8a)

I just joined the GHA, Gesneriad Hybridizers Association, $8 per year. They sent out an email publication 3 times a year and their list of seeds is free to members! You can join through the GSA.

A round robin in the spring sounds like such a good idea:). I have started so many seedlings and cuttings so I will be throwing my hands up right about that and wanting to get rid of plants!

PatM.

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

Concerning a Round Robin: Would anyone object if I threw in some Begonia and Hoya cuttings in case I should run out of Gessie cuttings?

Olaf

(Lynn) Omaha, NE(Zone 5a)

I know a lot of people here grow both.

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

And I have a few cool species like B. aridicaulis or B. burkillii that require a terrarium but are otherwise very easy. Also B. soli-mutata and U002, 'Dewdrop', 'Eagleshamm', sizemoreae and a ton more...

Good to know. I gotta put down some leaves anyway.

Kittrell, NC(Zone 7b)

Do you all know just how terrible you are? LOL!! I just can't stand another addition, but it looks like it's just a tad too late for me. I went and bit the dust and ordered some sinningia seeds. So maybe by the spring I'll have something other than av's to go in the round robin.

Melanie

Oh and by the way....I got another shelf today. lol!!

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

You want some more Sinningia seeds, Melanie? How about some micro minis? LOL

I'm still waiting for three more of those darn pods to mature and then it's cleaning, packaging up and shipping. Any day now...

Olaf

Columbus, OH

Olaf, it's too cold here (at least I think) to trade begonias or hoyas, but I'd certainly be open to it. And I'm always up for trading seeds or plants for soap/candles/etc.

Northeast, MO(Zone 5b)

I had brought up the idea of a spring RR on another thread and I think Olaf is referring to that. I am becoming addicted to Hoyas now and have started collecting a few of those. Most members here like other plants besides gessies.

Connie

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

Oh, that sounds great! Wouldn't that make the Round Robin much more exciting?

There is no way that I will be able to trade anything before April. We just had the first hard frost and a little bit of snow here in Chicago...

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

Why not make that a thread of its own?

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