October 2011


Ceropegia ampliata is one of the easiest South African species to grow in a greenhouse. It has thick fleshy roots, succulent stems and tiny leaves. The large flowers always appear in the autumn. In the winter it should be kept dry and it can take temperatures down to 8°C. If grown in good conditions, it can grow a number of metres in a year.
It is very easy to propagate from cuttings as they root very well. It does not readily produce seed in cultivation, so you will not often see seed on offer. Hybrids from this species are not available, unlike those from Ceropegia sandersonii and Ceropegia stapeliiformis which are quite common. The pollination mechanism in Ceropegias is so complicated and small that it is virtually impossible to do by hand; you must leave this delicate work to insects. It does not matter much what species of insect attempts to pollinate the flowers, it is the size of the insect that is important.

 

Ceropegia ampliata

Ceropegia ampliata

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Impatiens sodenii is a very easy plant to grow. In the summer, it can be gown outside, in shadow or in full sun. In the full sun, the leaves turn a reddish colour which makes the plant more attractive. It flowers well with white flowers for the ‘ordinary’ sodenii, also known as ssp. sodenii, and pink for the ssp. oliveri. There is a third variety, ‘Magenta Flash’, with a much larger splash of bright red in the center of the flower. The plants grown in shade can reach a height of 3 metres, but those grown in the sun stay a lot smaller, up to about 1 metre. This species is found in Kenia and Tanzania, growing in exposed rocky outcrops where it stays a lot smaller, also depending on the amout of rain it gets.
It is easily grown from seed or cuttings, preferably in the spring to get a good start. It is not fussy as regards the soil requirement, but does like regular feeding. As with most Impatiens, it does not like frost, so make sure to bring it back inside before the winter.

 

Impatiens sodenii ssp. oliveri

Impatiens sodenii ssp. oliveri

 

Impatiens sodenii ssp. sodenii

Impatiens sodenii ssp. sodenii

 

Impatiens sodenii Magenta Flash

Impatiens sodenii Magenta Flash

This Chirita is a hybrid of C. eburnea and C. subrhomboidea. The C. eburnea, the wild form, has small flowers, but crossing it with C. subrhomboidea, which has much larger flowers, produced this medium sized one. The plant itself can be propagated either by seed, cuttings or tissue-culture. With the last two methods, the plant will come back true to type; if you use seed, you will get a mixture of the hybrid and the two ‘parents’. It is a reasonably easy plant to grow, requiring a temperature of about 15°C. It flowers from August to about December. If put under growing lights, as used in commercial nurseries, the leaves tend to get burned.
All chiritas come from Asia and are related to the Saint Paulia and the Streptocarpus which are both found in Africa. Growing conditions are very similar for these three Gesneriad sorts.

Chirita 'Aiko'

Chirita 'Aiko'

This rare epiphytic species comes from India (Tamil Nadu and Kerala) and is very easy to grow. It can stand a lot of drought and starts to regrow when the monsoon rains occur. It flowers in the autumn in western Europe, but may do so at other times in other parts of the world. If kept watered, it will stay in leaf all the year round, but will not flower all the year round. The flowers are very similar to Impatiens niamniamensis and Impatiens keillii.

It roots very easily from cuttings and can be grown either in a pot or on, for instance, a coco peat block. Keep a minimum of 10°C in the winter and reduce watering to avoid rot.

 

Impatiens parasitica

Impatiens parasitica