Thursday 19 July 2012

Her Indoors: streptocarpus

We do love our houseplants.
Streptocarpus, The Cape primrose
What a beauty. This is the ‘Black Panther’. It will flower for six months. We really got to grips with our ‘streps’ when they were moved to the west facing kitchen window - not too much sun and some humidity.

The real secret, however, is in their watering. Brenda only waters when they start to wilt. They are then plunged into the sink for a minute or so, stood to drain, and returned to their saucer. They must only be watered when really dry.
How to water houseplants? The gardening media are generally most unhelpful. Keep wet, keep dry, don’t overwater. What do they mean?
Here are some key points about watering house plants.
  • It is almost impossible to give a plant too much water at a single watering, provided that surplus can drain away.
  • Watering may be by soaking in the sink, or more usually from above by watering can.
  • It is useless to give a tiny amount of water each watering.
  • Overwatering is when a plant is watered too often, not too much.
  • Some plants are only watered when dry. Others should be watered when still a little moist.
  • Never leave plants standing in water (unless they are bog plants). Waterlogging will kill them. Waterlogged plants often wilt! So check the compost before watering again.
We recently nearly lost our bougainvillea because it was too dry.
Roger in the doghouse

As I write, Brenda has come in to chastise me. She has found our candle plant (Kleinia) standing in water. Mea culpa. The plant will go into convalescence and I am banished back into the garden in disgrace.


  1. What an absolutely gorgeous picture! I cannot believe the colour of the flowers.

  2. Banished to play on the blog, you mean! :-)

  3. Sylvia in Nottingham20 July 2012 at 10:11

    What good advice. I always panic when the leaves droop so never let mine dry out. It's no wonder the poor Panther is looking so poorly!

  4. Nigel, Newton Aycliffe20 July 2012 at 11:42

    I wish I had a Brenda! I've lost count of the number of house plants I've managed to kill over the last few years! Sound advice here - thanks.


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