Here’s To You, Fabio!
|Columnea hirta ‘Light Prince’|
I was gifted this plant about 2 years ago by my sister-in-law. We found it at one of the big box stores. The minute I saw it, with its variegated leaves and orange flowers, I knew it was a “must have” for me. I love variegated plants and orange is one of my favorite colors. It is an Exotic Angel plant and the tag read Columnea ‘Prince’. After looking this up on line, I’ve found that everywhere else it is identified as ‘Light Prince’, so I am assuming they had the incorrect name on the tag. This isn’t the first time I’ve found the wrong tag on plants from big box stores, so I’m not surprised. Some of the common names include goldfish plant, flying goldfish, dancing dolphins, and shark plant because of the shape of the flowers.
Columneas are in the Gesneriaceae family, and so are cousins of the African violet, Saintpaulia. It was named by Linnaeus to honor Italian botanist Fabio Colonna. The Latinized version of his name is Fabius Columnea, thus the name.
Well, it’s finally blooming again after almost 2 years. I’m not sure why it didn’t bloom last winter as it has been in the exact same place the entire time. Did I wash the windows? I don’t remember. Did I fertilize it more often this year? Was it over potted? They bloom better when they are pot bound. Had I been keeping it too wet? They are epiphytic plants in their native Central and South America, so excellent drainage is very important. It did lose a lot of the leaves and a few stems when I brought it home so maybe it just needed to recover and get healthy again before it bloomed. I don’t know. Maybe all of these were contributing factors. Whatever the cause, it’s blooming now and I couldn’t be happier.
|Picture of the flower from underneath.|
|Notice the hairs on the flowers.|
FYI- If you like Columnea plants, I found that Lyndon Lyon Greenhouses has a huge assortment to choose from. Go to their website to see all the varieties.