Monday, October 30, 2017

The Church of Gesneriads

Last Saturday, Alan, Assistant Yvette and I, all piled into the car to go see Gesneriads.

Having told Alan I wanted to go see a Gesneriad Show, his response was "what the bejeesus are Gesneriads?!?" 

Gesneriads are another family of plants consisting of over 3,000 species and 133 genera. Yet another group of plants to occupy my time, energy and pocket book. As if I didn't have enough plant interests already, with the changing of the seasons, I needed more houseplants for indoor "gardening."

Most likely, you may already have a Gesneriad in your home and not know it!

The most common well-known plants in this group are African Violets (Saintpaulia), Gloxinias (Sinningia) and Cape Primrose (Stretocarpus). There are many other plants in this group, most tropical, and many making good houseplants. 

We've all had an African Violet at some point in our lives or one of those florist Gloxinia with the gaudy bright red or purple cupped flowers you get at the grocery store. That type of Gloxinia is on my "death list" of plants too easy to kill with love.

This summer, I bought several Cape Primrose (Stretocarpus) in the annual section of my local nursery. I had never seen them for sale as a garden annual before. Of course I bought three (red, purple and pink) and had them sitting in my kitchen window. They bloomed all summer and were a cheery pick-me-up to look at every time I stood at the kitchen sink. I recently divided them as they were getting too big and needed prettier pots to reside in than the black square nursery pots.

When I received notification that the Mt. Hood Gesneriad Society and Portland African Violet Society were having a Fall Show & Sale at the Tabor Heights Methodist Church, how could we not go to check it out?!?  

We did joke a little that we might get "smoted" walking into a church, but I was pretty sure the show would be in a meeting room and not at the alter.

The flyer said that the sale was "a great opportunity to buy from a huge selection of African Violets and other unusual Gesneriads..." and I was itching for a wider variety of Cape Primrose and hopefully a few other interesting new plants.

That's exactly what I got too! New plants I have not experienced before!

I enjoyed chatting with the folks at the show and saw a few "orchid people" from days gone by.

The plants were very reasonably priced and there was a nice selection to choose from.

Poor Alan waited patiently in a chair for me to make my plant selections. Assistant Yvee even had a nice Society member feed her tri-tip steak nibbles while waiting. Such service! 

Some of the plants I bought are featured in the next section of pictures:

Some of my bounty! Forgot to photograph the OTHER box...
Petrocosmea 'Whirlpool'
Episcia 'Pink Panther'
Streptocarpus (Cape Primrose)
'Jolly Sun Chaser' African Violet
Primulina 'Loki'
A Sinningia hybrid
Deinostigma tamiana
The familiar thing about many of my selections is that they generally grow in the same conditions as African Violets and like the same soil, moisture, don't appreciate water on their leaves, and enjoy filtered light. Many of them also propagate new plants with leaf cuttings. 

Sounds easy right?

Below are views of part of the sale area and some of the plants from the show. 

One of the several Show tables
Some of the "For Sale" round pink tables.
'Irish Ruffles' African Violet
'Boo Man' African Violet
'Jolly Frills' African Violet

'Cupid's Jewel' African Violet
Sinningia richii 'Robeson Lopees'

Petrocosmea forrestii

That ribbon is bigger than Assistant Yvette!
'Treasure Chest' African Violet
'A Call to Heart' African Violet
'Little Inca"


  1. I love your writing. This family/group is pretty far off my radar, but I was intrigued by your enthusiasm. The Primulina(s) (including the Deinostigma~?) ON radar!

  2. You have Loki! Might I beg a leaf from you?

    1. It only has a couple leaves (like 4). I'm not sure why it's failed to thrive?!? It might need to grow a little more before I can give you a leaf.

    2. Oh, lol. Yes, I understand. Let the baby grow first. Wish I could remember what I changed to make my Primulina 'Patina' happy. I'd tell you if I did.