The Gesneriad Family

The Gesneriad Family

The Gesneriad Family

Last night I went to my monthly African violet club meeting. Every month we discuss different topics, not only African violets, but other members of the family as well. I took pictures of many of the host’s beautiful plants and some that were brought by members for “show and tell”.  Gesneriads are a family of plants that include not just African violets, but also sinningia, streptocarpus, petrocosmea, primulina, aescynanthus, nematanthus, and more. The pictures below are just a few of the plants we talked about last night and thought you might like to see some beautiful violets and other plants in the family. Almost all the plants shown here have been grown under electric lights which are on 12-14 hours a day. The plants discussed need approximately the same care. The episcias would like a little more humidity than the rest and for that reason, are often grown in terrariums. They don’t necessarily need a cover to keep them happy, so planting them in an open glass container works just fine. If you don’t have a light stand, placing them in an east window is the best option. Just remember to turn them often to keep them symmetrical. Growing under lights helps with the symmetry, but plants will still need to be turned, as the light is not the same along the  fluorescent light. The light is brighter in the middle of the tubes, and gets dimmer near the ends. Keep all these plants evenly moist, never allowing them to completely dry out.

Petrocosmea are mostly grown for their amazing foliage. They do flower but the foliage is the main attraction. There are different types, but check out the one below that is looks like it could be petted like a kitty.

Petrocosmea 'Shortnin' Bread'

Petrocosmea ‘Shortnin’ Bread’

The episcia below is a small plant with yellow flowers, called ‘Jim’s Daphne’s Choice’. The most popular episcias though, are grown for their fabulous variegated foliage.

Episcia 'Jim's Daphne's Choice'

Episcia ‘Jim’s Daphne’s Choice’

The espicia below is grown in an open terrarium to raise the humidity, which they prefer.

Episcia 'Silver Dust'

Episcia ‘Silver Dust’

Below are a few African violets. I love the miniature one shown with my finger next to it. The leaves are smaller than my finger tip and the flowers are only a little more than 1/4″ across.

This sinningia below is only about 1″ high and the flower was approximately 1 1/2″ long. It was so cute!

Sinningia 'Little Imp'

Sinningia ‘Little Imp’

More African violets. They are the most popular gesneriad after all, and you can see why.

The grouping below are streptocarpus, also easy to grow and look at those flowers! They remind me of pansies, my favorite flower.

The beautiful flowers below belong to the lipstick plant or Aeschynanthus radicans and I snapped this picture at Matthaei Botanical Gardens.


Aeschynanthus radicans

Aeschynanthus radicans

The plant below is a goldfish plant and the one shown is called ‘Tropicana’ and I especially love it because of the striped flowers. I found this one at Graye’s Greenhouse near me.

'Tropicana' Goldfish plant Nematanthus

‘Tropicana’ Goldfish plant Nematanthus

As you can see, there are many amazing plants in the gesneriad family. I hope you will try some of these easy plants. They flower almost year round in our homes, as long as they have enough light. Try a couple! You won’t be disappointed.

2 Responses to "The Gesneriad Family"

  • Many gesneriads do like to dry out a bit, especially the epiphytic genera like Aeschynanthus, Codonanthe, and Nematanthus. Primulinas (formerly known as Chiritas) are also very forgiving of neglect and deserve to be more widely grown.

    • Thanks John! I generally like to tell people to keep those plants evenly moist or they let them dry out too much. I love primulinas and they do take a lot of neglect. I can attest to that! And the foliage on some of them is spectacular! I know the people in my African violet group also say that you know it is time to water a strep when it has wilted. I don’t like to do that though, because the ends turn brown. This family is one of my favorites. Have a great day!

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