Plants should be kept in the small pot in which you receive them until they bloom, as streps do like to be somewhat potbound. Once they reach blooming size they may be moved into a 3 inch or 4 inch squatty pot. Only if they have grown to several crowns should they be put into a larger 5 inch pot.
DIVIDING YOUR STREP
Instead of repotting into ever larger pots, it is always a good idea to divide the over sized plant. Find where the crowns separate into individual plants and then with a sharp knife slice straight down into the rootball making 2 or more individual plants which can then be potted up into 3 to 4 inch pots, with fresh soil.
TRIMMING YOUR STREP
The leaves of the streptocarpus plant grow outward from the bottom, much like your fingernails do. Like your nails, strep leaves can easily be trimmed to keep the plant at a size that is convenient for your windowsill. With a pair of scissors, simply trim off the end of the leaf and follow the natural shape to make the leaf appear natural. This does not hurt the plant in any way, and keeps your plants at a manageable size.
STREPS FROM LEAVES
New Strep plants are very easy to start from leaf cuttings. Cut your piece of leaf about 2 to 3 inches long, and cut it straight across the bottom. Fill a small pot with moistened soil mix and insert the cut end of the leaf into the mix just about 1/4 inch deep. Plant it too deep and it will rot. Place a label in the pot behind your leaf to give it some support while it is forming roots. Place the pot and leaf cutting into a clear plastic bag, blow the bag up slightly with air and tie the top closed with a twist tie or elastic band to form a little greenhouse to keep your leaf comfortable and happy while it is making a new root system. Place the pot under your flourescent light or in a bright spot near a window but never in direct sun. The bag can be slowly opened in 3 to 4 weeks when the roots have begun to form. In about 5 months you should have a good sized young starter plant.
Any good light soil less mix will work. A good formula is 3 parts peat moss, 2 parts perlite and 1 part vermiculite mixed together. Any standard soilless growers mix will work well, and can be altered slightly with the addition of perlite and or vermiculite. Such a prepared mix usually contains a wetting agent as well as being balanced for correct ph.
Your plants will be comfortable in the same type of typical room temperatures that you enjoy. Above 80 degrees, your plants will slow or stop blooming, and should be watered a little less often. Under 55 degrees and the plants will cease growing and rest. Streps do like cooler temperatures than violets.
Your plants will do well in a north, west or east facing window. They should be protected from strong sunlight but will enjoy some partial sun. Two tube flourescent fixtures placed 12 to 14 inches above the plants will be perfect. Most growers use regular cool white tubes. Your plants will appreciate 12 to 14 hours of light per day during spring and summer for good bloom.
FERTILIZER AND WATER:
20-20-20 fertilizer used at the rate of 1/4 tsp. per gal of water will be fine. Never water a strep until it really needs it. The top of the soil should feel dry to the touch and the pot should feel light when lifted. Streps do not like to be watered when wet!
The ph of your water is critical. Most plants prefer a ph in the range of 6.5 - 6.8. If your ph is too far below 6.0 or above 7.0 the plants will be unable to use the fertilizer they receive and will slowly starve. These days most people live in cities where the water is treated with either chlorine or chloramine. Check with your water dept. If they are using chloramine you will need to purchase a product to neutralize this chemical, from a tropical fish pet shop. If your water contains only chlorine, then you need to leave it sit out for 24 hours prior to using it in order to allow the chlorine to evaporate.
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