The spiny fruit, or Streptocarpus as it is also known, is a decorative houseplant. Their flowers are reminiscent of orchids, but their leaves are also extremely decorative due to their wrinkled shape and rich green colour. In order for the small plant to flourish and thrive on the windowsill, certain special features must be observed.
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The location has to fulfill a few things for the rotary fruit. It must be neither too warm nor too cold, neither too sunny nor too shady. And indoor plants don’t tolerate smoky air either.
The window sill already mentioned is ideal if it faces east or west – i.e. does not get direct sun for hours. A window facing south can also be suitable if sufficient shade is provided here. Whether this is achieved with a film that filters sunlight, a roller blind or a canopy – the only important thing is that blazing sun is avoided.
The rotary fruit tolerates normal room temperatures in summer, as long as the heat does not build up. A good exchange of air, through regular ventilation, is also required. Avoid draughts.
Once a spot has been found where the Streptocarpus will not lose leaves or flowers prematurely, the plants should be allowed to keep it. Even a slight adjustment is not advisable, since the changed light conditions usually do not go well with the rotary crop.
Only the transfer to a winter quarters should take place.
Coarse peat and humus-rich soil – this is what the ideal mixed substrate for the rotary crop looks like. Peat growing medium is also suitable, as is a combination of perlite and sphagnum.
The soil mixtures benefit from being enriched with carbonate of lime.
Watering with suitable water and undemanding fertilization is required for the rotary crop to thrive.
In addition, repotting and cuttings are necessary, as well as a properly prepared and implemented hibernation.
If the spin fruit also benefits from an addition of carbonate of lime in the substrate – lime should be absent from the irrigation water if possible.
Rainwater is therefore ideal. Alternatively, filtered tap water can be used or left to rest for at least a week. In the latter case, the lime settles on the bottom. If you pour slowly and move the sediment as little as possible, only the soft water gets to the roots.
Because Streptocarpus comes from warm climes, the water should also be brought to room temperature.
Regular dosing, limited in quantity, is better than dousing at long intervals. Between each watering, the top layer of the substrate should dry as much as possible. However, the root ball must never dry out completely. Waterlogging must also not occur, which is why sufficient drainage is required. If there is still water in the pot or saucer after a few hours, the excess liquid should be poured out.
Watering is a sensitive issue with the spin fruit and therefore requires special care. The following tips can help.
- Just wet the soil directly or pour over a coaster
- Check the substrate for lack of liquid with the thumb test
- As an alternative to watering, the spinach can be treated to immersion baths
- Contact between irrigation water and leaves should be avoided as much as possible
The leaves of the Streptocarpus are delicate and break easily, and they are prone to rot and wither. They should therefore never be wetted or hit with a jet of water.
If the spin fruit is not in the winter location, it must be fertilized every two weeks. A commercially available fertilizer for flowering ornamental plants is optimal. And is best administered in liquid form.
The Streptocarpus does not need a shaping blend. However, it is absolutely necessary to remove wilted, dried-up or diseased parts of the plant.
No specific time has to be set or observed for this, as soon as the need arises, the scissors have to be pulled out. Alternatively, the affected leaves can also be plucked off with a quick and vigorous movement. However, residues often remain, which in turn wither and can lead to greasy spots, infections and reduced resistance.
It is therefore important to proceed as thoroughly as possible here.
Propagating the twisted furrow is child’s play and can also be easily carried out by beginners in plant care. So there is a decisive difference here to the otherwise demanding care.
Propagation is easy with the following instructions.
- In the spring, one or two strong and healthy leaves are removed from the cassava.
- With a sharp knife, these leaves are cut into strips that are as evenly wide as possible, each measuring two to four centimeters. The narrower the sheet, the longer it should stay. Each cutting must contain a main vein.
- The cut off pieces are put into moist potting soil with the underside.
- Brought to a bright, warm location, the propagation approaches must be kept evenly moist.
- After one to one and a half months, roots appear on the leaf sections.
If you find the right location for the sensitive cuts right away and don’t move them around afterwards, you can quickly be successful with this. Of course, it can also happen that the cuts do not even take root, but wither or dry up. Therefore, it is crucial to keep the substrate well moist, while not neglecting heat or exposure to the sun.
Propagation by leaf division
As an alternative to the strips, healthy and strong leaves can also be separated lengthwise to propagate the rotary fruit. Here it is important to really cut the leaves down the middle along the median nerve. Both parts are then placed in potting soil and watered as described above. A foil cover that is aired for an hour a day can also help and promote root formation.
In order for a rich and long flowering to occur in the following year, the spinpod needs a real hibernation. And this should be done in a cool room. Between 13 °C and a maximum of 18 °C may prevail at the winter location. The room must still be well ventilated and bright.
In November, the plant should be kept indoors or the temperature turned down. Bedrooms that are kept cool at all times are ideal. Or unheated conservatories, garages or stairwells. But it shouldn’t be too cold either. If the temperature falls below 13 °C, damage to the plant is inevitable.
And from these, the spinpod won’t recover too quickly. If any.
The same applies if the winter quarters are too dark or too humid. Or the Streptocarpus is kept too dry. Because watering is also crucial in winter. Too little and the plant dies. Too much and she becomes more susceptible to diseases and pests.
Only in March can the spinner be put back in its summer location.
The selection of the rotary fruit
In summer there are numerous Streptocarpus hybrids on the market, which are mainly cultivated as houseplants. However, not everyone will continue to grow and thrive in their own home. Important for the selection are:
- Intact leaves show cracks, kinks or signs of wear – hands off
- Numerous buds – the more, the better
- Moderately moist substrate – damage from drying out or waterlogging is not immediately noticeable
- Saturated colors
The healthier the rotary fruit appears, the better the chances for vigorous growth.
If the spiny fruit is larger, it’s time to repot. The leaves in particular should be protected. Once these are damaged, the floodgates are wide open to germs and parasites.
Furthermore, pots should only be chosen one size larger. If the Streptocarpus has too much free substrate available, it will first develop roots. And that goes in favor of the flowers and leaves.
The right time for repotting is spring, from March or April. It is helpful to place a mark directly on the plant. In this way, it can later be realigned exactly at the location – and is not additionally stressed by an abrupt change in the incidence of light.
Typical pests and diseases
The rotary fruit is extremely resistant to pests. So there is no risk of infestation here.
The situation is different with diseases and discolouration. If the rotary fruit is kept too moist, gray mold will form quite quickly. The affected areas must be removed as first aid. The rest of the plant should be treated with an appropriate fungicide.
In order to prevent such a disease, an important basic rule must be observed in nursing. The colder the plant is, the drier it needs to be. The warmer it is, the wetter the substrate can be.
Discolouration occurs on the leaves and flowers when the pod is sprayed with water or when it is too bright. Shadows or watering from below help prevent damage here.
Apart from these diseases, however, the Streptocarpus is extremely robust.
The spiny fruit is a demanding and not very easy plant for the windowsill, which requires a bit of finesse and patience. But if you find the right location and take the right measures, you can enjoy the flowers for a long time.