A member of the Gesneriaceae family, cape primrose is African Violet’s close relative, which is why the two share common characteristics, especially when it comes to care and maintenance. The plant is a native to African countries, including Comoro Islands and Madagascar. They can grow in the wild, but they are more common cultivated indoors as a houseplant. Its flowers have five petals, velvety, and will vary in color, but some of the most common are purple, pale violet, white, and pink. Its diameter can range from 2.5 to 3.5 centimeters. The leaves, meanwhile, have deep and long veins, which are also delicate, so be sure to handle it with caution.
There are different cultivars that are available, each with their own physical characteristics and growing requirements. Among others, one of the most popular is the Harlequin Blue, which is known for its neat leaves and short flowers. The flower is soft blue on the top, yellow on the lower part, and has purple lines in its throat. Another variety is Crystal Ice, which is a continuously flowering plant. It has small and attractive white flowers with blue veins. They will make a good choice for a decorative houseplant since they will bloom throughout the year. Falling Stars, on the other hand, is a variety with hairy leaves and light-blue flowers.
Planting and Growing Conditions
One of the ways to propagate cape primrose is through seeds. With the right care and proper sowing, seeds can quickly germinate, although this is still not as quick as growing from a seedling. The first thing that you have to do is to choose the container where you will plant the cape primrose. See to it that there are slits or drainage holes at the bottom, which will prevent water from accumulating in the soil and making it soggy. For the soil, on the other add, a peat mixture will work best.
Once the soil is ready, it is now time to sprinkle the seeds. In most cases, a single packet will have up to 35,000 seeds. With this, it is impossible to sow the seeds individually. Sprinkle it in rows, with each row being at least two inches apart from each other. Press the seeds firmly, but make sure that the soil will not cover them.
It will take an average of ten days for the seeds to germinate, provided that there are right growing conditions, such as a moist soil. Light is also essential for germination. Place it on the windowsill, but see to it that direct sunlight does not reach the plant. exposure to too much heat will hinder germination. It would be best to make sure that the temperature falls between 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It will also help to cover the pot with a clear plastic to seal in the moisture. Take out the plastic when they begin to sprout to encourage better air circulation.
You can also transplant a healthy cape primrose. In this case, look for a container, fill it with a combination of potting compost, and perlite, place the seedling on the top, and cover it with soil. Water the surface and press firmly, making sure that the transplant remains stable. When the plant is ready, position it in a place with bright and indirect sunlight.
Pests and Diseases
Most of the problems in cape primrose will be apparent on the leaves. The plant can suffer from a variety of diseases, which include leaf wilting, botrytis cinerea, powdery mildew, and root rot. When it comes to pests, on the other hand, the plant can suffer from infestation due to the presence of aphids, vine weevil, and mealybugs, among others.
Care and Maintenance
Even as a beginner, there is no need to worry too much about growing cape primrose. You do not need to be an expert gardener to yield a high level of success. Remember the tips below and it will be a lot easier for you to succeed in growing this indoor plant:
- If you grow cape primrose through seeds, at one point, they will overcrowd in the container and this is not good for their health. With this, with the appearance of the second set of leaves, separate them into individual containers to have the space that they need for a healthy growth.
- Moisture is essential for the survival of cape primrose, but make sure to control watering. Overwatering will kill the plant. It is best to water only when the soil is dry. Also, water from the soil and not from the top of the plant. Watering is best done early in the morning, providing plenty of time for it to dry out and to avoid root rot, among other common problems.
- The application of a water-soluble fertilizer is best during spring or fall to supplement the nutrients that are possibly lacking. Use a high-phosphorus fertilizer, which you will need to apply at least once every three weeks. During winter, on the other hand, give the plant the time to rest. During its dormant stage, do not fertilize.
- If there are faded flowers or wilting leaves, cut them the soonest possible time with clean scissors, making sure that there are no pathogens that can transfer to the plant. This will help to prevent the infection of the affected parts of the plant from spreading.
With moist soil and bright but indirect light, among other growing conditions, cape primrose can survive indoors, even without heavy maintenance. The best thing is that most of the varieties will have long-lasting blooms, with some of them even flowering year-round.