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The Cape Primula

Streptocarpus are perennial herbaceous plants prevalent mainly in southern Africa and Madagascar, vaguely reminiscent of the former, and are very common in the undergrowth, hence the common name; the Latin name streptocarpus, which means from the twisted fruit, derives from the fact that it produces small semi-woody berries wrapped in a spiral. The primroses of the head belong to the same family as the Saintpaulias, this relationship is noted in the appearance of the plants and also in the cultivation methods. In the nursery are commonly found Streptocarpus hybrids, generally related to the species Streptocarpus rexii.
They produce small clumps of enlarged leaves, oval or spatula-shaped, wrinkled and light green in color, generally covered by a fine down, for most of the year between the leaves stand thin stems, at whose apex large bell-shaped flowers bloom, generally in shades of blue and pink; as we said there are numerous hybrids, with flowers of more varied colors, often with the throat marked by zoning or streaks in contrasting color with that of the petals, there are also fragrant flower varieties.
The Streptocarpus they are not widespread, but breeders are always producing new varieties, which are very successful, stealing part of the popularity of African violets.

The Cape primula is commonly grown as an apartment perennial plant, as it can fear temperatures below 10 ° C; it is cultivated in pots, using small or medium sized containers, filled with a good slightly acid universal soil, lightened with small pieces of bark and leaf mold, generally it is possible to use a soil for orchids mixed with soil for acidophilic plants.
The pots should be kept in a well-lit place, but away from direct sunlight, which could ruin the foliage or excessively dry the growing medium.
Streptocarpus originate from wet and cool areas, so they should be kept in a well-ventilated position, but away from cold air currents; the waterings must be regular, so as to keep the soil moist, but not soaked with water: it is advisable to water often, with small amounts of water.
The foliage and flowers do not like to get wet, so it is good to moisten only the substrate and not the plant. Every 15 days we add fertilizer for flowering plants to the water used for watering, to stimulate continuous flowering.
To always have a healthy plant it is good to place it in a fairly humid and not excessively hot room, and avoid the positions close to heat sources, such as fireplaces, radiators, convectors, fans.
The environmental humidity is also increased by simply placing the vase in a container filled with expanded clay to be kept constantly moist.
The primroses of the head generally bloom throughout the year, to keep them from producing buds it is good to keep the plant in a luminous place, the shadow causes little or no blooms; to favor the production of new flowers it is also good to remove the withered buds, otherwise the plant begins to use its energies to produce the seeds.

Contrary to what happens for the Saintpaulias the primroses of the head generally produce fertile seeds, which must be sown in terrines containing a wet mixture of sand and peat; the seeds are very small in size, which is why it is good to dust them on the surface of the growing medium without covering them, and water them using a vaporizer.
Young plants should be thinned or transplanted into a single container as soon as they are large enough to be moved.

In addition to the hybrid varieties of Streptocarpus rexii, it is possible to find some particular varieties of Streptocarpus in the nursery; a very widespread is Streptocarpus dunnii, a particular botanical species that produces only one huge leaf, which can reach 9 cm in length. In reality it is not a leaf, but a false leaf, a large cotyledon, at the base of which the plant produces a thin stem on which flowers bloom, often in small groups.
The primroses of the head are sometimes cultivated also in the garden, like annual plants, in colored flowerbeds placed in partial shade.