Gardening with Georgia

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Small but beautiful

Fri, Aug 28, 2009 at 12:53:06 PM

Episcia cupreata is a Conservatory beauty..

You have to stoop down to really see them, but the flowers of Episcia cupreata are dramatic once you make the effort. Their tubular flowers have fringes on their edges and red markings in their yellow throat. In the Conservatory, the bright “flame-violet” nestles near the pineapple ginger. Episcia is a member of the gesneriad family, tropical herbs that are often found in the under story of rainforests where humidity is high and light flecks illuminate first one spot and then another. The leaves are hairy, marked with light green and silver. The little plants send out stolons or runners, like strawberries, and for that reason can be used as a ground cover in a tropical garden. I remember seeing a lovely garden in Costa Rica with episcias as a ground cover. There are neotropical gesneriads, such as Episcia from Venezela, Brazil, Colombia and Peru, and Old World or paleotropical gesneriads, such as African violet from South Africa and lipstick plants (Aeschynanthus), which roam from India to Java. Most people who like them in South Florida grow them in containers or even terrariums. These charming plants are likely to keel over in cold winters – say temps below 60. They like excellent drainage, rich organic soil and bright light but no direct sun. 


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