Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Pretty colors

Here's a shot of a handsome 'Party Boy'! Did you know that streps are primarily found in Africa and Madagascar? It will be interesting to see where hybridizing takes the Streptocarpus in the near future because of all the variation in the species plants.

Some of the species streps are unifoliate, or have only one leaf. Some are very similar and tend to grow one to three leaves, but unlike the former, these will be perennials and continue to grow even after flowering and fruiting.

A third form of Streptocarpus is called rosulate. This is the one we might be most fimiliar with because many of the modern hybrids come from stock that includes S. rexii.

Although Streptocarpus don't "branch" as we tend to think of it, there is a fourth sort of strep that produces multiple leaves from a lengthened central base that is capable of producing "secondary" leaves that also are able to bloom. It's sort of intermediate between what we think of as a strep with no "stems" and a regular vegetative plant that develops a branching habit.

The subgenus of Streptocarpus, called Streptocarpella, display yet another form of growth from the one cotyledon which continues to grow, a characteristic feature of the entire genus. (One cotyledon grows while the other withers and dies shortly after germination although it is a fully dicotyledenous plant.) Streptocarpella leaves start as a vegetative bud on the root system and branches in the normal way. In other words, we have everything from rosette plants with no obvious stems to regular branching herb-type plants with more normal leaves. This leaves a great deal of interesting possibilities for hybridization.

Does anyone want to try some strep hybridizing? What would you use for parent plants? What traits would you like to see expressed in future flowers??? Let us know.

1 comment:

Sharon said...

Nice article!

I would like to try hybridizing after seeing a demonstration at our local gesneraid meeting how simple it is to do. I would like to get a nice fantasy.

Fantasies are so unstable, but when they come in true, I think they are beautiful. I picked up a strep fantasy at the National Convention and one of the suckers on the plant is not a fantasy.

I am not sure where to start, but I will probably pick a solid dark blue, with a solid red and see what happens. Actually that is rather difficult since many already have been hybridized and have edges or stripes. However, it does open the door to many possiblities, too.

All I need is the courage to try it.