Streps for show

Growing streps for show

by Dale Martens in the June 2008 Bells and Slippers

  • First of all, streps like to be potbound, so 5 to 6 months before a show I put the plant in its final "show" pot. If it's in a 2 1/2 inch pot, I put it in a 4 inch pot. If it's already in a 4 inch pot. I put it in a 5 or 6 inch pot. Don't disturb the root system. 'Blueberry Butterfly' is in a 4 inch azalea pot. The two biggest leaves are 12 inches long. Last November it was in a 2-1/12 inch pot.
  • Secondly, since you have a lot of time, I suggest you remove all but 2 inches of the biggest leaves IF they've already produced 6 flower stems. This way they will make new plantlets at the base of the leaves. After those new plantlets are 2 or 3 inches long, remove as much of the stub of the mother leaf as possible.
  • Next, disbud the plant for at least 2 if not 3 months. I actually disbud from November to February in order to make Spring show plants. Remove the flower sterns as soon as you can. This encourages leaf growth. When a leaf reaches it's maximum potential, it makes the maximum number of flowers per stem. The more leaves in the pot and the bigger the leaves the more flowers per stem.
  • Streps make a specific number of flower stems per leaf ... usually 7 to 9. If you disbud all 7 to 9 flower stems, that's it, no more flower stems for that leaf. Remove that old leaf and leave a 2 inch stub for it to make another plant...or if the pot is too crowded, then remove it totally.
  • I feed high nitrogen fertilizer at the rate of 1/4 teaspoon per gallon of water. The British like to feed tomato fertilizer (high potash) fertilizer. I like to alternate fertilizers, avoiding high phosphate (high bloom) fertilizer until about 12 weeks before the show. Then I use high phosphate alternated with a balanced fertilizer (like 20-20-20).
  • Eight weeks before a show, I begin to allow the plant to flower. I recommend you do this to 2 or 3 streps, not to your whole collection. Just see how it works for you! Three weeks before a show, remove all partial leaves (stubs). Make sure the soil looks good and carefully add more soil if needed. Rather than do that, I do a top dressing of sphagnum.
  • The day before a show, trim any bad edges with a pair of pinking-shears type scissors and do it in the natural shape of a leaf. Take an African violet leaf and squeeze the juice from the stem onto the cut areas of the strep leaf. This seems to help prevent a lot of brown discoloration. Remove all damaged and spent flowers.

And this from Jon

Personally I have always had success rooting streps in a mix of coarse perlite and coarse vermiculite. Some people add peat but it seems to encourage rot under high humidity. Like Dale, I make wedge cuttings, usually only making two cuttings from short leaves, so that each cutting is about three to four inches long.

I use a 3" to 41/2" size plastic pot., enclose in a zip lock or put under a dome that fits on a tray, and place under lights. Under a dome might be better since the humidity is not quite so high, and therefore, there is less chance of rot. Check your cuttings regularly and cut away any rot. You can use smaller pots since you have are planting multiple varieties, so that you can keep them all separate.

An alternative mix is long fiber sphagnum moss-particularly New Zealand Moss. The problem with moss is that you end up with a sprouted cutting firmly rooted in moss, which you may not want when you transplant into regular mix. But, the overriding importance of getting the cutting to survive and sprout makes moss a good choice when dealing with a special cutting. Last Summer I used moss to root all of my cuttings from convention. And, right now I have some little happy streps still in that moss. I'm not sure what I am going to do.

Good light is critical to success in rooting cuttings. A light stand always works better than a bright window. Low light is often the reason why cuttings rot.