When thoughts turn to indoor gardening

Streptocarpus by van swearingen

Streptocarpus by van swearingen

Normally this time of year I’ve pretty much abandoned my outside garden. Yes, you can still garden in California this time of year. But is does get a bit cold and windy and the bones are a bit creaky. Staying inside where it is nice and warm seems much more appealing (even the dog agrees). Add to that the “to do” list for the holiday season and my garden pretty much gets neglected. It doesn’t mean, however, that I stop thinking about plants. Each time this year I start to indulge my desire for a new houseplant (or type of houseplant). Now, there is a good chance that once spring rolls around this poor plant will understand what it means to feel a bit of neglect, but for the next two months it will get more than enough loving care.

Mini-Sinningia "Raindrop Red" by van swearingen

Mini-Sinningia "Raindrop Red" by van swearingen

Recently I’ve started obsessing about gesneriads. (According to The Gesneriad Society you can pronounce it either “guessNARE-ee-ad” or “jez-NARE-ee-ad”). It has been years since I’ve had so much as an African violet and suddenly I’m fawning over Gloxinias, Lipstick Plants, and Flame Violets. Perhaps I’ve already grown tired of the warm red and orange that has blanketed the hillside of trees. Perhaps I need a bit of vibrant spring color. Gesneriads certainly fit the bill when it comes to color. Lush purple stretocarpus (oddly the spell check suggestion for streptocarpus is stretchmarks), bright pink african violets and deep velvety red gloxinias abound on Flickr. In fact I’ve been searching for photostreams of these prolific bloomers and falling asleep to their slideshows. No wonders visions of sugar plum purples are dancing through my head.

Gloxinia by chrispy1in2006

Gloxinia by chrispy1in2006

But it is more than that. There seems to be a freshness and nostalgia all at the same time about these fuzzy leaved plants. They remind me of a time of  terrariums, cacti and tillandsias. They remind me of when I first became obsessed with all things plants. When I took the time to mist them daily and I brushed dust off their leaves with a soft paint brush. Most gesneriads are small and well behaved. I’ve always had great luck in placing them near an East facing window. Self-watering pots making hydration much easier, but I have succeeded with the soil touch test as well. Now it seems my biggest problem will simply be to choose.

Seemannia nematanthodes by peganums

Seemannia nematanthodes by peganums

Columnea raymondii by Eric in SF

Columnea raymondii by Eric in SF

gesnerid by edgeplot

gesnerid by edgeplot

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3 comments for “When thoughts turn to indoor gardening

  1. at 9:23 am

    Lovely post and pics. I’m totally into mini (read cheap) versions of these plants. I’m putting them in all kinds of terrariums and jars. And tillandsias? I’m completely obsessed with their weird beauty.

  2. Kat
    at 10:00 am

    Kerry I know what you mean. I haven’t been interested in these plants in almost 20 years and now I can’t get enough. Everything makes a comeback I guess.

  3. at 10:38 am

    Hi Kat, this is amazing! I’ve been nursing a Streptocarpus for about 8 years now, and I get lovely purple blooms twice a year but I know people who have them blooming constantly! I neglect mine heavily as I just can’t seem to care for indoor plants like the outdoor ones. A few months ago I even went to the local Desert Plant Show and got a whole bunch of very cool succulents, semps and cacti that I’ve mostly now given away. So I’m always impressed with those who keep beautiful plants indoors like you do!

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