IT CALLED OUT TO ME at the garden center the other day, with its insane pink- and silver-flushed, fuzzy, foliage. And that was before the flowers showed up. Though simply labeled “Tropical Plant’ on the generic plastic tag (can you believe?) I knew it was an Episcia—a gesneriad, like African violet (Saintpaulia) and Sinningia—but that was about it. Home it came, anyhow, and I’m learning about how to grow my new roommate, commonly called a flame violet.
My Episcia hybrid has flowers more the color of ‘Ember Lace,’ though its foliage is different, but I was startled and excited to see its close cousin, the hybrid with redder-orangey blossoms called ‘Pink Brocade,’ on the cover of the new Logee’s catalog that arrived the day after I brought my flame violet home. Serendipity. [Update August 27, 2012: A reader says mine is ‘Pink Smoke’.]
Logee’s suggests an east or west window, with good indirect light, and to grow the plant with good humidity and warmth—not exposing it to temperatures below 65 degrees. Episcia hybrids are good hanging-basket plants, because of their inclination to trail, but can be pinched to maintain a better shape in a regular pot. I’m told to let the soil go visibly dry between waterings, and feed monthly with a balanced dilute fertilizer labeled for houseplants or blooming houseplants. The Logee’s tips on growing Episcia. (Note: I found that the pdf opens only in certain browsers, so you may have to tinker.) When it needs to be potted on, I’m going to use African violet medium.
There is a wonderful gallery of flame violet photos on the website of the Gesneriad Reference Web, with information about growing these stunning houseplants as well.
Ever grown a flame violet or other gesneriad? Any advice for me about this newest beauty?