Alsobia - Gesneriaceae - How to care for and cultivate Alsobia plants

Alsobia - Gesneriaceae - How to care for and cultivate Alsobia plants



Note 1

There Alsobia it is a delightful stoloniferous species much appreciated both as ground cover and to be raised in hanging baskets.






: Angiosperms


: Eudicotyledons


: Asteris











: see the paragraph on "Main species"


The genre Alsobia of the family of Gesneriaceae it includes several herbaceous, stoloniferous and perennial species, native to central and southern America. These are plants with a drooping or climbing habit, mostly raised in hanging baskets while in nature they form real carpets.

From the stolons thin stems are formed, often covered with a light down with deep green leaves, thick and with wavy margins. From spring and throughout the summer they form large, tubular flowers with fringed margins, of a pure white color, variously speckled depending on the species and variety.

Until recently the genre Alsobia was joined to the genre Episcia as they had very similar characteristics to each other.


There are several species in the genus Alsobia but the only ones commonly grown are:


There Alsobia dianthiflora (photo below) is a compact plant, stoloniferous, with oval dark green leaves and large flowers with white fringed petals.

Note 1


There Alsobia punctata it is characterized by purple speckled white tubular flowers on the inside of the corolla.

Two well known and cultivated hybrids are




born from the hybridization of the Alsobia dianthiflora x Alsobia punctatacharacterized by white flowers with numerous purple dots that stand out all over the corolla. Compared to the two species of origin, they are less demanding, vigorous and fast-growing plants.


The Alsobia they are very easy to grow and require no special care.

Minimum temperatures must not drop below 15-16 ° C. They also bear considerably lower temperatures (about 4-5 ° C) provided that the plant is in absolute vegetative rest during the cold months, reducing the watering starting from autumn.

They love very bright exposures but away from direct sunlight.


There Alsobia it should be watered regularly so as to keep the soil only slightly humid during the spring-summer period. During autumn and winter the waterings will be very spaced, almost suspended as the plant enters vegetative rest.

Beware of water stagnations which are not tolerated in any way.


The Alsobia they are not particularly demanding in terms of terrain. A good mix could consist of leaf soil, peat with the addition of a little sand to help drain the irrigation water.

I always recommend terracotta pots, in this case wider than tall as Alsobia tend to develop a good root system. Terracotta being a porous material, allows the soil to have gas exchanges with the outside.


L' Alsobia fertilize every three weeks starting from spring and throughout the summer by diluting the fertilizer in the watering water and halving the doses compared to what is reported in the fertilizer package. In other periods they must be suspended.

It is advisable to use a fertilizer that in addition to having macroelements such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) as well as microelements such as iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc ( Zn), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo), all important for a correct and balanced growth of the plant.


Pruning is necessary to contain the growth of the plant and give it a more compact posture, moreover, this forces the plant to have a greater growth at the base and to issue a greater number of flowers.

Remember to always use blades that are clean and disinfected, preferably with a flame to prevent them from becoming a vehicle for parasitic diseases ... a vehicle for parasitic diseases.


The flowering period of the Alsobia it is spring and summer.


The multiplication can take place by cutting parts of stolons with roots and transplanting them into single pots or by stem or leaf cuttings.


The stems have very long internodes

Long internodes are the classic symptom that the plant receives little light.
Remedies: move the plant to a brighter position but not to direct sun.

The plant does not bloom

If the plant does not bloom it means that it does not receive sufficient light.
Remedies: move the plant to a brighter position avoiding direct sun.

Presence of small insects on the plant

If you notice small light-colored insects you are surely in the presence of diaphids or as they are commonly called lice.Observe them with a magnifying glass and compare them with the photo shown, they are unmistakable, you can't go wrong.

Remedies: treat the plant with specific pesticides readily available from a good nurseryman. These are generally systemic products, i.e. they enter the lymphatic circulation of the plant and are therefore absorbed during the nutrition of the insects.

(1) Image licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, courtesy of BotBln

Wax flower - Hoya spp. Atlas of Potted Plants - Indoor and Balcony Plants

Common name: Wax flower.
Kind: Hoya.

Family: Asclepiadaceae.

Etymology: the name of the genus recalls that of Thomas Hoy, chief gardener of the Duke of Northumberland, in the XVIII.
Origin: India, southern China, Australia, Java, Borneo, Himalaya.

Genre description: includes about 200 species of perennial, evergreen, creeping or climbing plants. They have dark green leaves, opposite, fleshy or leathery, oval or linear in shape. The flowers, with a translucent corolla with a waxy appearance, appear in summer, gathered in compact and hemispherical umbrella-shaped inflorescences and are very fragrant. The species that best suits our cultivation, both outdoors (in milder climate regions) and indoors is Hoya carnosa. The other species are more suitable for protected environments such as the greenhouse.

Hoya carnosa (photo

Species and varieties

NB: The species that have given rise to hybrids suitable for cultivation in pots are reported.

Erica gracilis: native to Africa, this delicate species, with autumn-winter flowering, which reaches 30-40 cm. in height and 30 cm. in diameter, it is suitable for greenhouse or apartment cultivation and, only in milder climate areas, can it be grown outdoors. The leaves are light green. From September to December it produces purple-red, globular-shaped flowers, which appear, gathered in bunches of 3-4, at the ends of the lateral shoots. Several varieties have been produced including: "Vernalis", with pink flowers that bloom in October-November "Autumnalis", which has pink flowers in September-October "Rosea", with pink autumn flowers "Alba", which in September-October is covered with white flowers.

Erica hyemalis: of not well defined origin, this shrub, which reaches 60 cm. in height and 30-40 cm. in diameter, it has filiform leaves and white tubular flowers with pink shades. It blooms from November to January and, due to its delicacy, is suitable for greenhouse or apartment cultivation.

Erica melanthera: this small compact shrub has tomentose branches on which small narrow leaves attack. The tubular flowers are pink with black stamens. It grows up to 60 cm. in height.

Erica pageana: native to southern Africa, this erect plant has linear, ciliated and verticillated leaves (they are gathered in whorls formed by four leaves per node). In autumn it produces yellow flowers gathered in terminal and lateral racemes. It can grow up to 30-100cm. in height.

Erica persoluta: native to southern Africa, this bushy species reaches 90 cm. in height. It has fragile and velvety stems and, in March-April, it produces white flowers with pink shades.

Perspicua heather: this shrubby species with erect bearing produces tubular flowers, of a white-pink color, gathered in 7-10 cm long racemes.

Erica gracilis seedling (photo

Erica carnea flowers (photo Elena Nelli)

Environmental needs, substrate, fertilizations and special precautions

Temperature: they can withstand temperatures even below 0 ° C, but do not tolerate snow on the leaves, which can cause burns. They do not tolerate winds.
Light: they are undergrowth plants that prefer shady or semi-shady positions but can also tolerate full sun, taking care that the soil is always humid.
Watering and environmental humidity: the soil must always be kept moist. In summer they must be particularly abundant (evening spraying of the leaves are also welcome). It will begin to reduce them from September onwards, to allow the formation of the floral buttons.
Substrate: the ground must absolutely not be calcareous. It is good to mix the soil with leaves and, if planted outside, spread dry leaves on the ground which will slowly decompose.
Fertilization and special precautions: they do not require particular fertilizations. Early flowering varieties are preferably grown in pots. These must be taken outdoors in May, taking care to place them in a shaded or semi-shady position and sheltered from the winds, which they do not tolerate. At the end of October, and in any case when the cold arrives, they must be taken indoors, in a cold greenhouse or veranda, at a temperature of about 4-7 ° C, where they must remain until the arrival of spring, when they can also be repotted. if necessary.
Outdoors they must be planted in September-October or March-April. Mulching of leaves or straw is useful, in order to keep the soil moist and to avoid the appearance of weeds.

It prefers draining, light, porous soils with an acid pH. A good mixture can be obtained by mixing leaf earth (or non-calcareous soil) and light peat in equal measure. It is very important to take care of the drainage: we create a layer on the bottom with lapillus or expanded clay. A handful of pebbles or pozzolana can also be mixed with the substrate, in order to keep it well ventilated.

Growth is faster in young plants: they may need to be repotted even annually, to be done at the end of winter. We always choose containers with a slightly larger diameter than the previous one: we will stimulate development and avoid dangerous water stagnation.

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