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My Favorite Houseplant: Streptocarpella Saxorum

Category: Presenting "The Curious Gardener"

streptocarpella saxorum
Streptocarpella saxorum taken from my aunt’s house in Minnesota

There are lots of houseplants which I love, but my favorite would have to be streptocarpella saxorum. The tongue-twisting name alone might dissuade some potential homeowners from growing this plant, but chances are you’ll immediately fall in love after seeing it for the first time. It’s also quite easy to grow, requires minimal light and maintenance, and it blooms year round. If you are looking for an easy-to-grow houseplant, pick up a streptocarpella saxorum from your local nursery. Call first to see if they have it, and if they don’t, suggest they bring it in. I grow mine indoors on windowsills and in my greenhouse, but they also make a lovely outdoor container plant.

This was one of my gardening New Year’s Resolutions last year: Propagate lots of streptocarpella saxorum plants in  my greenhouse to give as gifts (the parent came from my friend and horticulturist Ruth Clausen, and it made a lovely gift!) What started as a cutting in this little glass of water has turned into several large plants that bloom incessantly on a windowsill in my kitchen. I gave one to my mother this winter and it is blooming nicely on her kitchen windowsill.

A Quick Overview of Streptocarpella Saxorum

Streptocarpella Minnesota
Streptocarpella saxorum planted in container Minnesota

Upon blossoming, streptocarpella saxorum will feature several nodes with bright purple-colored flowers opening at the tips. The plant only grows to a height of 6-12 inches, but it can spread wide to about 12 inches. I grow them on a windowsill.

The flowers on streptocarpella saxorum grow to about an inch long with a slanted tube running down the center of them. Most streptocarpella saxorum flowers bloom with purple colors, but there are some blue varieties as well.

It’s important to note that too much sunlight may burn streptocarpella saxorum. If you place it in an area of your home that receives constant sunlight throughout the majority of the day, you’ll need to monitor it to ensure your plant doesn’t burn. Check both the leaves and soil for signs of dryness. One precaution you can take to help prevent this is to keep your streptocarpella saxorum plants thoroughly moist.  Also, like african violets, their velvety leaves will discolor if you get water on them and then expose the leaves to the sun. It’s best to water them from the bottom up (filling their saucer with water), or water carefully from the top, avoiding the leaves.

Streptocarpella saxorum can also be grown outdoors in the right conditions. Regions with excessively cold winter months will likely prove to be too much for this delicate plant. It prefers warm, humid environments to grow and prosper.

Hopefully, this will give you a better understanding of streptocarpella saxorum and what to expect when growing this plant. These purple-blue violets are attractive, easy to grow and make wonderful houseplants.

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36 thoughts on “My Favorite Houseplant: Streptocarpella Saxorum

  1. You don’t have to worry about discoloring the leaves of streptocarpella if you use warm room temperature water – and it is best to not let plants and/or pots sit in water.

  2. Lois D. Clifton says:

    This is my first time to grow this plant and I love it. I have had it outside in a pot but I believe I should bring it in for the winter.

  3. My good husband brought this plant to me years ago. It is absolutely our favorite. I never knew I could put it outside much less use in a hanging basket! I am putting some cuttings in water and soon will try the hanging basket idea. Thanks for the good information!!!

  4. Thanks for the information I just purchased 2 of these plants and had no idea where they came from. I had never seen them at the store before and the person there did not know too much about them. Can I use miracle grow on them as they need some TLC. The one plant is okay but the other is not as full. They are in an area where it is good light but very little sun. Any pointers about getting more blooms out of them or should I leave them alone.

  5. I over-wintered two large streptocarpella “Concord blue” hanging plants last winter in a 50 degree basement under florescent lights. They hardly missed a beat, though the bloom did slow down. Took a lot of cuttings in early spring, put in small pots in plastic bags and have many pots now and am giving hanging pots as gifts. Easy plant – the starts were about 95% successful, but they grow very slowly.

  6. Can these plants be propagated by single leaf cuttings? Like how African violets can be started.

  7. Can I prune this plant.nodding voilet

  8. Paula Tatarka says:

    Can these be trimmed. Mine has become overgrown and stragley. I have had mine in a pot outside this year. It will be my 3rd winter inside.

  9. Jo Ellen Gardner says:

    I have brought my plant indoors last few years but it makes such a mess. So I was interested in putting it in the basement. Do you use a grow light or just regular fluorescent light and how many hours a day do you have the light on?

  10. Yes I prune mine all the time.

  11. Last spring we began enjoying a large hanging basket of streptocarpella saxorum “blue heaven” but put it in a large pot on our deck that gets morning sun continuing through 1:00 (zone 7b). We were amazed all summer and even into the fall at the prolific blossoming and continuous growth, so we brought the plant into our sunroom, placing it in a southern window, just before cold weather hit. The green leaves and some blossoming continued but the stems got long and grew without new leaves or blossoms. We brought the plant outside this spring and placed it in the same location where it thrived last summer, but it is so “leggy” that it looks unhealthy and struggling. I will take several 2″ cuttings from the leafy and flowering ends of several stems to see if they will take root in potting soil with 50% vermiculite added, being careful to keep the soil moist but not wet. Should I then cut the original plant’s stems down to within 5-6 inches of the base of the plant (forgoing all the remaining green leaves and blossoms that remain at the ends 7-8 inches of the stems)? The stems are about 20 inches long, but the leaves and flowers are only on the last 7-8 inches of each stem. Or will cutting the stems back to 5-6 inches of the base of the plant kill it? Thanks very much for your advice. It is painful not to know how to help this wonderful plant.

  12. Kathy Massie says:

    My mother loved this flower and bought one every spring. The name she called it was Blue Cloud Dancing Flower!
    It’s my favorite flower now and it is hard to find in the nurseries around Columbus, Ohio.

  13. I got my plant in a hanging basket which is hanging outside my screened in porch i’m thriving. I live in North Carolina and it will be too cold to keep it out there in the winter so I’m wondering how to make it a house plant. I don’t really have room for a hanging plant in my house.

  14. Ruth Rogers Clausen says:

    These are good comments above. Remember and look for a white-flowered selection. Just as easy, but maybe a tad less vigorous. REALLY pretty!
    Don’t be afraid to cut back stems that are trailing too much. If you pinch out the growing tips at a stem length that you like, the plants will become bushier and neater. Remove browned and dried stems from spent blooms. I use a small pair of nippers to remove them to their bases–more blooms will come from lower down the stem.

  15. Lois Pipkin says:

    Purchased Happy Times Blue in Piedmont North Carolina as a plant for a pot grouping in my shaded front yard. It has been spectacular. Did not bloom as well in our worst heat, but has a second wind in early fall.
    Also looking for advise on best practices for bringing her in for winter.

  16. Pat Lapointe says:

    What about fertilizing the Streptocarpella when indoors?

  17. Ruth Rogers Clausen says:

    Hi Pat,
    I find that fertilizing is not really necessary, but half strength every couple of waterings will produce more flowers. The most important thing indoors is to give the plants as much light as possible, so that they don’t become leggy. They should bloom right through the winter as long as you keep the soil moist. If you are heading south for the warmer weather, consider taking the plants with you or hire a plant sitter! BTW you don’t HAVE to grow them as hanging plants. I started several cuttings and potted them individually and in 3s in regular pots. Enjoy!

  18. Pat Lapointe says:

    Thank you very much. I have my 2 plants on a rack by my patio doors. I get almost full day sun which is just starting to get the plants right now 10:15 am.I give them about an hr a day of direct sun then I partially close the blinds so they get partial slivers of sun. What size pot do you use for your 3 new cuttings? I have been cutting back at a joint to encourage bushiness. What do you think?

  19. Pat Lapointe says:

    I should mention that I live in Montreal Canada so we are in snow and ice right now but beautiful sun….even reflecting off the pure white snow on my balcony.
    Further to my previous message above…can I give longer periods of full sun?

  20. Hello, I live West Kelowna Canada, and I had mine on my porch all summer long, morning sun with partial to full shade and it was absolutely glorious! I fed it Schultz Orchid Fertilizer with every water, and it bloomed profusely all summer long right into the fall.

    I brought it in for the winter. He’s not particularly happy right now, but I have been pinching off some of the leggier stems. I am confident he will come back in the Spring/Summer.

    I did try rooting some of the stems in water, but of course that did not come to fruition. I will try using a peat moss soil mixed with some vermiculite and see how that goes.

    I love all the information. They are in fact a member of the African Violet Family. There is a second Streptocarpus which is of another variety and has leaves more like a Primula but they require the same care, and can live for many years as a house plant. Impossible to find here, and I was super fortunate to be able to find the Streptocarpus Saxorum at a greenhouse. The staff however did not know what it was or how to take care of it. They were a number of them left at the end of the summer. I should have taken two and kept one inside and used one during the Spring Summer Fall months.

    Wish me luck on trying to root them.

    Warm regards to all you happy gardeners!

  21. Ruth Rogers Clausen says:

    I am delighted to see so much interest in the Streptocarpellas. Use rooting powder on cuttings if you are trying to root them in soil or a mix. After cuttings have rooted well, I usually pot them up into 3.5″ or 4″ pots, OR I plant 4 or 5 (depending upon pot size) in a bigger pot or hanging basket.
    Don’t be afraid to cut them back, although they may require feeding more often. I gave one to a friend and his is beautiful indoors in a big wicker basket, blooming its head off under lights. I thought there must be more than one plant planted. Mine are just getting windowsill light and are not as exuberant—also not fed as regularly! You’ll be surprised how they will bounce back come spring. I plan to repot as the days get longer, not necessarily into larger pots but in clean pots with well draining soil. I like the mixtures that are specially formatted for containers. Good luck and enjoy!

  22. Thank you Ruth for sharing your experience and information! I will purchase some rooting powder and give it a go! I am excited!

    I have enjoyed gardening for 37 years and even at 62, I love it and can’t wait for spring!

    Happy Gardening!

    From the Okanagan
    Wine Country

    Sandy

  23. Carole Hayes says:

    Love my nodding violet, bought the first one 3 years ago, and although covered and Protected outside, it died during winter. However to be safe I had taken several cuttings which I put in my window sill only in water, with the tips of the stalks only in the water. I made sure I kept the water level constant and eventually they produced roots so I was able to plant in a hanging basket in the spring. The plant has been amazing over the summer, producing loads of beautiful nodding flowers. As we are now in Autumn again I have taken lots more cuttings to strike, and have brought th big plant inside. After reading comments above I will cut it back further, but wonder, as it is such a big plant now whether I should split it up and repot into seperate pots, I think there was about 5 cuttings originally planted. Canberra Australia

  24. Judy Morgan says:

    I just love all these posts on my favorite plant! They are hard to find here in Chattanooga sometimes. I did not know they could be a houseplant until now. That’s amazing. I think I will put them all over the house in different places. They are just the prettiest plant I’ve ever seen. I will surely get some rooting powder and begin to root some for friends and family. I do have to prune mind back in the summer once or maybe twice and they come back so much fuller and thicker. Thanks again for all the advice.

  25. K. Snell. says:

    I have mine in my kitchen window where it is growing very well. It has stopped blooming but I’m thinking it’s a resting period. I’m not concerned. I would like to know if these are safe for children and pets because I would like to move it to a different area of my house.

  26. Elizabeth Sellwood says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. My favourite plant that I was assured was an annual and couldn’t be grown indoors. I have three small pots brought in from outside, and the perfect room for them to flourish. So glad I searched and found your piece.

  27. Patty Johnson says:

    My dad used to raise these in the family business greenhouses! I still plant two 12″ hanging baskets with four 4″ pots in each every year. The hummingbirds LOVE the baskets!!!

  28. Cheryl Bailey says:

    Is the Streptocarpella poisonous to cats?

  29. I just potted up a bunch of cuttings I had rooted in water. I don’t use rooting powder but I think it’ll be fine. The cuttings are in a window that gets bright indirect light and they made roots within a week. I got the parent plant from a cutting I got years ago from my sister. Her indoor plants get leggy and ugly after a few years so she takes cuttings and replaces the parent plant. I wonder if diligent pruning would keep the plants from eventually becoming unattractive. I didn’t realize they could be grown outside, and wonder how frost hardy they are— maybe I’ll make a test pot and see if it can handle brief periods of 30 degrees.

  30. Joanne Mather says:

    I have a nodding violet, had it for 3 years and had to repot 3 times. They say they only grow to about 12in across, mine is 30in across and 15in high. It is in a shaded area. Anyone else have one this large?

  31. Michael Fitzgerald says:

    I start new plants of Streptocarpella “Concord Blue” in late winter every year, eventually planting them 4-5 to a hanging basket (depending upon size of plants and size of basket). My Mother-in-law is 95 years old and loves these! So, I am always sure to include one or more hanging baskets of “Concord Blue”in her patio garden, which I plant for her with flowering annuals every Spring. I find them to be a bit challenging when grown outside in the summer months; but, they are well worth the extra care they require. I have also found that they suffer in a windy area and that they dislike excessively high temperatures, preferring more moderate temps. I prefer to root cuttings in sterilized, indoor soil (African Violet mix works well),, using rooting hormone, keeping a few for planting in baskets, and giving away the excess plants to gardeners interested in growing them.

  32. I have a nodding violet that has an orange rust under it’s long leaves what can I do to stop this can I cut the leaves back
    I have it in my bathroom with filtered light and my bathroom is heated in winter I live in Victoria Australia we have cold winters and occasional frosts so I’m afraid to grow outside but I do have a shady sheltered area

  33. christy kennedy says:

    Answered all my questions. Thanks, everybody!

  34. just bought one from nursery. looked healthy. got to be 34 degrees outside as it was left out with the other flowering plants I bought. now all the leaves are drooping and curled. brought it in, put by west kitchen window. still drooping. watered. I think this is OPPOSITE of an EASY plant. But the healthy ones on your pictures do look pretty. I think you are a green thumb type person, that’s why you have success with this sensetive African plant

  35. Kristie Fabian says:

    I have one in my office that bloomed for years. It just suddenly died back. Is there anything I can do to save it?

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