Smithiantha belong to the Gesneriads and are often referred to as 'Temple Bells' as their flowers rise above the foliage in late summer to Autumn and hang down, bell shaped and nodding. These colourful plants have been highly hybridised and are widely used as an indoor plant.
Growing and Care of Smithiantha
Grown for the flowers which range from yellow to red these plants are a perhaps a little more difficult to grow than some other Gesneriads as they do require warm humid conditions, similar conditions to african violets, they flourish in a conservatory or greenhouse.
Generally purchased as tubers they can be planted in an African Violet growing medium about 3-4 cm deep, watering and fertiliser should be applied in a similar manner to other Gesneriads, avoid watering the foliage and use a general purpose slow release fertiliser.
Remember that humidity is important so try the saucer of water with pebbles to sit the pot on, this allows some humidity without the pot sitting in water.
Smithiantha Varieties and Species
Smithiantha zebrina with its nodding orange / yellow flowers is widely grown, Smithiantha aurantiaca has a tall flower spike with yellow flowers. Smithiantha canarina is lovely plant with deep green foliage and lemon yellow flowers (rare). Smithiantha cinnabarina with its red / green velvety foliage and mid red flowers that hang neatly. Smithiantha laui has glossy green foliage covered with fine red hairs and wonderful pale blue flowers, a varied species. Smithiantha multiflora is another well worth looking for
Many hybrids are available and Smithiantha are available for sale as tubers or rhizomes and can also be grown from seed.
Summary of Cultural requirements
These wonderful plants do require a consistently moist root system, in the UK they are best grown in a greenhouse, however they can also be be grown beneath a cloche or bell jars indoors especially when flowering so that they can be 'shown off'.
So similar conditions to African Violets, not much sun but good light. Cool in summer.
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Smithiantha Plants are available for sale from the following nurseries and growers.
STAN'S PLANTS email: email@example.com
Stanley Mossops achimene rhizomes are once again for sale. Also selling: kohlerias, african violets, streptocarpus and smithianthas