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You Can Easily Grow Gesneriads – African Violet Relatives – Under Lights

Episcia is a genus of flowering plants in the African violet family, Gesneriaceae

What do you think of when you hear the term Gesneriads? Like most people, you probably think of African violets (Saintpaulia). But these beautiful plants are so much more than that! And you’re not alone; Gesneriads are often mistaken for their more famous cousins.

Gesneriads are a family of flowering plants that includes African violets, gloxinias, and many other popular houseplants. This article will tell you all you need to know about growing Gesneriads, including the best plants to grow, caring for them, and why they make great houseplants.

The Different Types of Gesneriads

But what exactly are Gesneriads? Gesneriads are a flowering plant family that consists of approximately 153 genera and 3,030 species, but only about 300 are in commercial cultivation. The Gesneriad family is named after Swiss naturalist and physician Conrad von Gesner (1516-1565).

While African violets are the most popular type of Gesneriad, there are many different types of these plants.

Some of the other more popular Gesneriads include:

Aeschynanthus (Lipstick plant)

Lipstick Plant
Aeschynanthus radicans

Cyrtandra

Cyrtandra gesneriad plant
Cyrtandra menziesii (ha’iwale) is seen in a gulch in wet forest at medium elevation on the southern flank of Mauna Loa, Hawaii Island.

Gloxinia

Beautiful Gloxinia is bloom

Kohleria

Variegated Kohleria
This variegated kohleria is called ‘Moufid Saliba’ and will look good on any windowsill.

Saintpaulia (African violet)

African violet with blue flowers

Sinningia (Gloxinia, Brazilian violet)

An elegant Sinningia speciosa in bloom.
Sinningia speciosa, sometimes known as gloxinia in the horticultural trade, is a tuberous member of the Gesneriaceae family native to Brazil.

Why are Gesneriads So Popular?

Gesneriads are native to tropical and subtropical regions worldwide, with most species coming from Central and South America. These plants are typically found in shady, humid locations such as rainforests. One of the reasons Gesneriads are so popular is that they’re relatively easy to care for. They can be grown in a wide range of climates and don’t require much care to thrive. Gesneriads are also known for their brightly colored flowers, which come in various hues, including pink, purple, red, white, and yellow.

So what are some of the most beautiful examples of Gesneriads?

Five beautiful examples of Gesneriads

Here are 5 of our favorites:

1. Aeschynanthus radicans (Brasiliana)

Aeschynanthus radicans

2. Gloxinia perennis

Gloxinia perennis

3. Kohleria amabilis

Kohleria amabilis var. bogotensis
Kohleria amabilis var. bogotensis

4. Aeschynanthus marmoratus

Aeschynanthus marmoratus

5. Saintpaulia goetzeana

Saintpaulia goetzeana

How to care for Gesneriads

Gesneriads are a diverse group of plants that come from worldwide. They are related to African Violets and share many of the exact care requirements. Gesneriads prefer bright, indirect light and should be watered regularly. Overwatering can be deadly, so let the soil dry out between waterings.

Gesneriads are heavy feeders and will benefit from regular fertilization. Fertilize your Gesneriads every other week with a water-soluble fertilizer. Be sure to follow the directions on the package.

Three Things To Keep In Mind When Growing Gesneriads

Gesneriads are relatively easy to care for, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • First, they are sensitive to temperature changes. Gesneriads prefer warm temperatures and will not do well if the temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Second, Gesneriads are susceptible to mealybugs and other pests. Inspect your plants regularly and remove any pests you find. Treat your plants with insecticidal soap if necessary.
  • Third, Gesneriads are susceptible to fungal diseases. Water your plants from below to avoid getting water on the leaves. Remove any diseased leaves immediately and treat the plant with a fungicide according to the directions on the package.

Humidity Considerations

Gesneriads come from tropical climates and prefer high humidity. If the air in your home is dry, you can increase the humidity around your plants by setting them on a tray of pebbles and water. Be sure to change the water regularly to prevent it from getting stagnant. You can also use a humidifier to increase the humidity in the room.

Gesneriads will grow in humidity levels as low as 40 percent, but they require at least 50 percent, and 60 percent is better for robust development and complete blooming.

Best Potting Mix To Use For Gesneriads

Gesneriads require a well-draining potting mix. A good potting mix for Gesneriads should be loose and airy. It should also hold moisture but drain quickly. A mixture of perlite, sphagnum peat moss, and vermiculite is a good option. You can also use a commercial potting mix for Gesneriads. Be sure to read the label to make sure it’s suitable for your plants. If you are shopping for a potting mix at Lowes, Homes Depot, or a garden center, you will undoubtedly find African violet potting mix, perfect for Gesneriads.

Why Grow Gesneriads Under Fluorescent Lights?

One of the best ways to grow Gesneriads is under fluorescent lights. These plants thrive in bright, indirect light and fluorescent lights provide the perfect amount of illumination for these plants to flourish. Fluorescent lights also emit very little heat, which is beneficial for Gesneriads as they are sensitive to high temperatures. In addition, fluorescent lights are very energy-efficient, making them an economical choice for growing Gesneriads.

What About Growing Gesneriads Under LED Lights?

Everything we wrote about the advantages of growing Gesneriads under fluorescent lights applies to growing them under LED lights. LED lights are even more energy-efficient than fluorescent lights so that they will save you even more money in the long run.

The only drawback of growing Gesneriads under LED lights is that they can be more expensive to purchase initially. However, if you are looking for a long-term solution for growing Gesneriads, LED lights are the way to go.

So, if you are looking for an easy and efficient way to grow Gesneriads, consider using fluorescent or LED lights. These lights will provide the perfect amount of light and emit very little heat, making them ideal for these plants. Plus, they are also very economical in the long run.

What Is The Ideal Fluorescent LED Light Setup for Gesneriads?

The ideal fluorescent or LED light setup for gesneriads is a cool white light with a color temperature of 6000K to 6500K. This type of light will provide the perfect amount of illumination for gesneriads to flourish. In addition, cool white lights emit very little heat, which is beneficial for gesneriads as they are sensitive to high temperatures. Plus, cool white lights are also very energy-efficient, making them an economical choice for growing gesneriads. So, if you are looking for an easy and efficient way to grow gesneriads, consider using cool white fluorescent or LED lights.

If you are looking for a simple light setup for a half-dozen plants, we recommend the following two lights that you can purchase on this website.

Model GW215WS-C

Fluorescent Fixture 18 Inch 2 Lamp Chain GW215WS-C

 

The GW215WS-C light is a stylish chain model fixture perfect for your Gesneriad’s needs. The rocker switch makes it easy to turn on/off, and the three-wire grounded cord ensures safety and reliability. With two 15-watt wide spectrum bulbs included and a white finish, this lamp is sure to brighten up any space.

Blue Spectrum Dual 2ft LED Plant Grow Light

Blue Spectrum Dual 2ft LED Plant Grow Light

 

The Feit Electric Blue Spectrum Dual 2ft LED Grow Light is a fantastic choice if you want to help your plants flourish. This light produces more useful 450nm blue spectrum light than standard white LEDs, ensuring that your plants get the light they need to thrive. Plus, this LED grow light has an instant full brightness level from when it’s switched on. You can also daisy chain multiple lights together using the included linking cord, making it easy to expand your setup.

What Is The Right Amount of Light for Gesneriads?

Gesneriads need bright, indirect light to thrive. If you are using artificial lights, place your Gesneriads about 12-16 inches below the bulbs. Provide at least 14 hours of light per day for these plants. If you can provide more light, then they will grow even better.

How Often Should I Water Gesneriads?

Gesneriads should be watered when the soil begins to dry out. Be sure to water evenly to moisten the entire potting mix. Allow the excess moisture to drain away, and do not leave these plants sitting in water. Overwatering can lead to problems such as root rot, so be sure to only water when necessary.

What Type of Fertilizer Is Best for Gesneriads?

Gesneriads need a well-balanced fertilizer that contains both nitrogen and phosphorus. Apply the fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season and once a month during the winter. Be sure to follow the directions on the packaging, as too much fertilizer can burn the roots of these plants.

What Are The Common Pests and Diseases of Gesneriads?

The most common pests that attack Gesneriads are aphids, mealybugs, and whiteflies. These insects can be controlled with regular applications of insecticidal soap.

The most common diseases of Gesneriads are powdery mildew and root rot. These problems can be controlled by increasing the air circulation around the plants and watering only when necessary.

How to choose the right Gesneriad for your home

So which of the many kinds of Gesneriads should you purchase for your home? If you are looking for a plant that is easy to care for, we recommend purchasing an already established plant. This way, you can be sure that it will thrive in your home environment.

If you are looking for a Gesneriad that blooms frequently, we recommend choosing a species that blooms in the spring and summer. These plants will provide you with beautiful blooms all season long.

Suppose you are looking for a Gesneriad tolerant of low light conditions. In that case, we recommend choosing a species that is native to forest floors, such as Kohleria or Episcia. These plants will do well in shaded areas of your home.

If you are looking for a Gesneriad that is tolerant of high humidity, we recommend choosing a species native to the tropics, such as Aeschynanthus or Sinningia. These plants are used to growing in shaded areas and will be more tolerant of lower light levels.

Troubleshooting tips for growing Gesneriads under fluorescent lights

If you are having trouble getting your Gesneriads to bloom, try increasing the light levels. Provide at least 14 hours of light per day for these plants. If you can provide more light, then they will grow even better.

If your Gesneriads are not growing as fast as you would like, then try fertilizing them every two weeks during the growing season and once a month during the winter. Be sure to follow the directions on the packaging, as too much fertilizer can burn the roots of these plants.

If you are having trouble with pests or diseases, try increasing the air circulation around the plants and watering only when necessary. If the problem persists, you may need to treat the plants with an insecticide or fungicide.

You should have no trouble growing Gesneriads under fluorescent lights with these tips. Be sure to provide the right amount of light and water for these plants to thrive in your home.

In Conclusion

Thanks for reading! We hope this article has helped you understand how to grow Gesneriads under fluorescent lights. Be sure to provide the right amount of light and water for these plants to thrive in your home.

Resource guide:

The Gesneriad Society 
The Gesneriad Reference Guide

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