How to grow and care for Cape Primrose Indoors

Houseplant, Cape Primrose

Botanical name: Streptocarpus hybrida
Family: Gesneriaceae

Cape Primrose is a popular houseplant which bears trumpet-shaped flowers in white, blue, purple, pink and red with prominently-veined throats. The flowers hover or arch above the rosette of coarse, stemless strap-shaped 8-12 in. long leaves. Many hybrids of various colors and forms are available but the old favorite Streptocarpus Constant Nymph which bears lilac flowers with violet veins remains the most popular. If the growing conditions are met, a succession of blooms will appear. Cape Primrose is native to South Africa where it is found growing on shaded rocky hillsides or cliffs, on the ground, in rock crevices and almost anywhere the seeds can germinate and grow. Cape Primrose requires a shallow pot, moist air, bright light and freedom from draughts. They do not like soil that is too wet and they do not like it too hot.

How to Grow Cape Primrose

Light

Cape Primrose prefers bright light conditions but away direct sunlight. Cape Primrose will not bloom if the light is not enough. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants

Water

Keep the soil moist at all times for Cape Primrose and allow the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce watering during the cold period. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead to Root-rot Disease. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Average warmth to above average between 18-250C is ideal for Cape Primrose. Protect the plant from cold and hot draughts. Learn more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Cape Primrose requires a humid environment. Set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity but do not mist the leaves as it can lead to fungal diseases.

Feeding

Feed Cape Primrose with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer every 2-3 weeks during the growing season. Withhold feeding in the cold season as growth is minimal and it can lead to fertilizer burn. Regularly flush out excess fertilizers by running a stream of water through the soil until it comes out through the drainage holes, allow to run for at least 10 minutes. Find out more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

Repot Cape Primrose annually during the growing season. The plant's is fast growing and the roots will quickly fill the pot. Use a pot that only allows 1/2 in. space around the plant. Cape Primrose blooms best when slightly pot-bound. Do not repot a plant that is in flower. Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent waterlogging as it can lead to Root-rot Disease. The soil should be rich in organic matter and free-draining.

Pruning

Pruning Cape Primrose is easy. Remove dead leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy. After flowering, cut thr flower stems at the base to encourage more blooms. Learn more on how to prune houseplants.

How to Propagate Cape Primrose

Cape Primrose can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from leaf cuttings, seeds or by division.

Propagating Cape Primrose from leaf cuttings
Take a leaf cuttings from a healthy Cape Primrose plant. Insert the leaf petiole in moist free-draining soil. Place the set up in a cool well-lit spot. Maintain the soil moist through out until new plants emerge at the base of the petiole. Carefully seperate the new plants and pot them in moist free-draining soil. Maintain the soil moist until the new plants are well established.

Propagating Cape Primrose from seeds
Spread Cape Primrose seeds evenly on moist free-draining soil and slightly cover with some soil. Cover the set up with a plastic sheet to create a greenhouse effect. Place the set up in a warm brightly-lit place. Maintain the soil moist through out by gently misting the soil surface. Transplant the seedlings when they are well established into individual pot. Place the seedlings in a shaded well-lit place. Maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges and the plants are well established.

Propagating Cape Primrose by division
Carefully divide a large Cape Primrose plant into sections while ensuring each section has enough roots. Pot up these sections into individual pots in moist free-draining soil. Place the set up in a shaded brightly-lit place. Maintain the soil moist until the plant is well established.

Common Problems in Growing Cape Primrose

  • Brown leaf spots
  • Brown leaf spots in Cape Primrose are caused by exposure of the plant to direct sunlight. Keep the plant away from direct sunlight.

  • Limp leaves with brown edges
  • Limp leaves with brown edges in Cape Primrose are due to overwatering; maintain the soil moist but never allow the soil to become soggy.

  • No blooms
  • Cape Primrose will not bloom if the light is too little. It requires bright light but away from direct sunlight.

  • Leaves dull and wilted
  • Dull and wilted leaves in Cape Primrose are due to underwatering; maintain the soil moist and never allow the soil to dry out completely.

  • Pests
  • The common pests in Cape Primrose are Mealy Bugs and Aphids.

  • Diseases
  • One common disease in Cape Primrose is Root-rot which is brought about by waterlogging. Never allow Cape Primrose to sit in soggy soil; ensure good drainage of both the pot and the soil.

Toxicity

Cape Primrose (Streptocarpus hybrida) plants are non-toxic to humans and pets.

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