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Streptocarpus dunnii from South Africa

This is a rare look at the incredible Streptocarpus dunnii from South Africa.  This unusual African Violet species makes only one leaf, but it is ridiculously huge - up to 3 feet long!  It sends up gorgeous, foot-tall spikes of red blossoms over a long period.  This is a choice collector's plant that makes a great show plant.  It is rarely seen in cultivation or for sale.

Streptocarpus dunnii from South Africa

The leaf grows sideways near the ground, and usually gets 18 to 36 inches long, and 8 to 16 inches wide.  If you lack space for it, you can trim it shorter and it will still bloom!  The attractive leaf has a wavy form, with a ribbed surface and ruffled margins.  It is fuzzy underneath, and the flower stems have a fuzzy base too.  The plant takes a little over 2 years to flower, but it is worth the wait!  It sends up several flower stems, each with a few dozen blooms that open progressively over about 3 months.  The 2 inch blooms are pollinated by birds in the wild and can attract hummingbirds.  If you wish, you can cross-breed it with other Streptocarpus to create new hybrids.  After flowering, the plant dies, although you can root pieces of leaf and start over.

Streptocarpus dunnii from South Africa

 It comes from a mild climate with cooler nights, so consider it experimental in very hot conditions with warm nights.  It needs protection from freezing temps.  It grows great indoors for me in bright, filtered light.  It grows fine in some sun, but may need some protection from strong afternoon sun.  Give a well-draining soil mix, such as 2 parts potting soil to 1 part perlite.  Keep the soil evenly moist or let it dry out halfway between waterings.  Don't let it dry completely, but also don't keep it constantly saturated.  It doesn't need a large pot to be happy.  Over about 40% humidity is a good idea.  In the right conditions, it is easy to grow.  When it starts flowering, give it a cool spot at night to deepen the flower colors.

Streptocarpus dunnii from South Africa

 

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Germination tips for this plant

 

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