Smith Iantha

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(Family Gesneriaceae)

Smithianthas are very attractive plants with ornamental leaves, wrhich have a velvety texture mainly green in colour with brown markings along the veins, above which the flower spikes rise to a height of some 12- 18 in (30-45 cm)

The tubular bell-shaped flowers, which hang down on short stalks all round the main stems, arc bright shades of pink, orange, red and yellow. The inside of the flower is a different colour from the outside and is delicately patterned or mottled, so that you may have, say, a red flower with a speckled orange interior, and the overall effect is most attractive. It is the flowers which give the plant the common name of temple bells. The genus was named after a Matilda Smith, who was a botanical artist attached to Kew Gardens. Smithianthas are closely related to gesnerias and their correct nomenclature has been somewhat confused. They used to be known as naegelias and some nurserymen still offer then under this name. Their native habitat is Mexico. Only the hybrids are grown nowadays, and these are usually offered as mixed colours, but at one time there were named varieties available.

Their natural flowering time is autumn, and, as there are few flowering pot plants sufficiently obliging to produce their flowers during these months, it is a pity that smithianthas are not more well-known and more widely-grown.

Smithianthas are tuberous-rooted plants, and the tubers or rhizomes form at the base of the main stem. The rubers are an elongated cone shape, with a white scaly appearance and usually about l/i-l in (1325 mm) long. Each plant produces an average of some three tubers by the end of the season, and, as each tuber will produce a new plant the following year, you can appreciate that there is no need to propagate by any other means in order to maintain a collection of these plants. Smithianthas can be grown from seed or tubers, but as the latter are usually obtainable it is preferable to buy tubers.


The time to start the tubers into growth is late winter or early spring, but the point to bear m mind is that a

Flowering Pot Plants

temperature of 65°F(18cC) is initially required, and when the shoots appear a minimum temperature of 55°F (13°C) is needed for growth to continue. Tubers started in late winter will usually bloom in late summer and early autumn. Tubers started in spring will bloom in autumn. If you do not have the facilities to maintain a minimum temperature of55°F (13°C) during early spring it is better to delay potting until mid-spring so that the shoots do not appear until the weather is warmer.

Make sure the compost is moist but not wet and do not water until absolutely necessary, as too much moisture at this stage before any appreciable root

Smuhiiinihji are sometimes called Temple Belli. They have attractive flowers and beautiful velvety leaves.

growth has occurred can result in tuber rotting. Place the pots in a temperature of fi5°F{18°C) until shoots appear, after which the plants can be moved to a slightly cooler place. A temperature of60°F(l5°C)is ideal.

The tuber should be placed on its side in the compost about "A in (13 mm) below the surface, using JI potting compost No.2 or compost E6. Pot four tubers in a 5 or 6-in {12.5 or 15-cm) half-pot, which is quite adequate for the root run, and gives a better balance of pot to flower.

Apart from watering as required, the plants do not require any further attention until they have flowered. When grown in a greenhouse they should be given light shading in the late spring and summer

Smuhiiinihji are sometimes called Temple Belli. They have attractive flowers and beautiful velvety leaves.

Red Flower Pot Plant Summer

Subitum ettpnoistrum, the Christmas or Winter Cherry, owes us jllraction to its hright red berries.

Dry Region Plants

months. When the plants have finished flowering, they should be allowed to dry off gradually until the leaves begin to wither away, at which stage withhold water altogether, and allow the compost in the pots to become completely dry. The pots can he stored under the bench in the greenhouse (providing you can maintain a minimum temperature of 45°F/7°C on average), laying each pot on its side.

The tubers will not come to any harm with an occasional short spell at 40°F (4°C) if the pots are bone drv, but should not be kept in temperatures below 45DF (7nC) for weeks on end.

At the end of the winter knock the soil out of the pots and carefully sort out the tubers, which should then be started into growth as already described.

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  • Battista
    When flowering smithiantha ?
    3 years ago

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