Streptocarpella- pretty plant with a funny name

Jane Powell

January 1, 2023

When I asked the plant’s name, the nursery guy told me to remember Strep throat on the carpet. What? But it worked. I will always remember the name Streptocarpella.

This pretty plant also has several nicknames, false violet, cape violet, cape primrose, and my favorite, nodding violet.

A relative of the African Violet, nodding violets are tropical plants growing in Africa’s warm, humid forests. Here, they are hardy in southern Zones 9 and 10, but they are grown as houseplants in most of North America.

The plant has dark-green fuzzy leaves, which are pretty but serve as a backdrop for the real reason this plant is beloved. The dainty lavender trumpet-shaped blooms are the star.

The 1- 11/2 inch blooms appear on scapes, long, leafless flower stalks produced from the stems nodes. As the plant matures, the blooms will become prolific throughout the year. Having these lavender blooms during the winter sure does brighten a gloomy day.

While the plant is indoors, give it a spot where it will receive bright but indirect sunlight. Water consistently. Streptocarpella is a tropical plant and enjoys warmth, but be sure to keep away from heater vents. The blowing air is drying to the soil and leaves. 

I need to keep this in mind. Over the holidays, I moved this potted plant to different locations depending on what activities were happening in the little house on a big hill. They have not always been ideal. Soon the Christmas tree will be down, and furniture will return to its usual spot, then this happy plant will get the sunlight and attention it needs to thrive.

Because of my neglect, I may need to do a wee bit of pruning, but with consistent care, this is not necessary. Give this plant sunlight and water – maybe a shot of fertilizer in the spring – and that’s all it needs.

When the outside temperature warms, and the threat of frost is gone, I will move the pot to the front porch. It will sit on a table showing off its cascading stems and blooms. Because of the flowing stems, this plant also works in hanging baskets and window box designs. But remember to bring the nodding violet inside when the temps dip below 55 degrees.

To propagate, take a cutting 2-to-4 inches long from beneath a leaf node. Place the cutting in clean water and indirect sunlight. Roots will appear soon. When they reach 2 inches, transfer to a container with well-draining potting mix. Be patient. First, you will see a mounding leaves, then the cascading stems and abundant blooms will come, but the plant can be slow growing.

I purchased this pretty plant with a funny name because of the irresistible blooms. It proved to be a conversation piece with visitors. When I mentioned it would thrive inside through winter, that was a surprise to most. 

I must admit, Streptocarpella, the lovely plant with the sweet blooms has surprised me, too, being hardy and strong and continuing to bloom even after being shuffled around through the holidays.