Growing Streptocarpus From Seed

Tips for Growing The Beautiful Cape Primrose

You may have seen the gorgeous Cape Primrose, that rarer cousin of African violets, and wondered, how can I grow more of those? If you needed a challenge, growing Streptocarpus from seed is one to take on.


These gorgeous plants flower so freely that it's no surprise that they make a seed or two - or thousands.  The seeds are so tiny they make a piece of dust look gigantic.

The name itself means 'twisted fruit' for the sinuous seed case.

Special techniques are needed for sowing them, because a heavy sigh or a breath of wind will scatter them, and usually not where you want them.

They're slow to germinate at times, and the seedlings so tiny that it's crucial to use sterilized potting soil for them.  This prevents the overgrowth of moss and other plants that like similar moist conditions, and also pathogens that soil contains. 

If mold gets going, say goodbye to those pricey seeds.

how-to-grow-streptocarpus-from-seed-tiny-seedlings.jpgTiny seedlings emerge - can't see them?

Have your containers filled with soil - a half inch or so in the bottom of a takeout container will be adequate, no need to overwhelm these little guys with a lot of soil.

Make sure it's uniformly moist, by spraying it with warm water the night before, then mixing it in before putting it in the containers.

Then wash your hands. 

Take the inner glassine envelope out of the outer one, carefully.  Look at how it is closed, whether just folded, or taped too. 

Work over a folded piece of white paper (you'll see why in a moment) then gently tap the glassine envelope over the paper.  See that dust?  That's the seeds!

how-to-grow-streptocarpus-from-seed-tiny-seedlings-tiny-seedlings-closeup.jpgTiny seedlings close up - now can you see them?

Take the folded paper and manipulate it so the seeds fall into the valley (fold). They will be much easier to get them over the whole surface of the soil, not just in a clump.

Tap the paper to get them to jump down to one end, and situate the paper over top of the container of soil.

Tap gently, by holding with one hand and tapping that hand with the other to move the seeds.

how-to-grow-streptocarpus-from-seed-newly-potted.jpgNewly potted Streptocarpus seeds - these pots are about one and a half inches across

Try to get it scattered over the surface of the soil, so they aren't crowded - believe me, crowded equals not good. They are so delicate as seedlings that they have hardly any root.

Spray the soil surface with  tepid water, replace the cover and set the container under lights at around 21C or 70F.

Three days to three weeks later, you should have babies. These are sometimes so tiny you can only see them under magnification. 

Keep the air and soil moist but not dripping for a few weeks to months, until they get their first real leaves.  These will be less than a millimeter (1/16th of an inch) so they are tough to get your fingers around.

Tease them apart with a toothpick, then gently pick the seedlings up in your fingers.  The roots are tiny, but set them into a divot in a small pot (1-2" across) and then spray to move the soil into the divot to cover the roots.

how-to-grow-streptocarpus-from-seed-newly-potted-closeup.jpgStreptocarpus seedling getting established in its tiny pot

Watch for days and weeks until they become big enough to actually look like a plant, and marvel as they flower about six months later. 

You could get flowers in solid colors, stripes, mottles, two tones, with bee guides or any combination of these.  They are so varied and gorgeous, no matter what happens you'll be happy with growing Streptocarpus from seed, just from all the happy accidents they produce.

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