PESTS & DISEASES

Episcia are able to become infected with the same insects, pests and diseases African violets have. When your plant room has a pest or disease, treat with homemade remedies or natural remedies first before resorting to chemicals, which often destroy Episcia before they cure them. New centers grow in extremely slowly if at all when burned out by chemicals or affected by pests. Episcia, especially younger plants, may be more sensitive to certain chemicals and may react badly.


Above Left: E. fimbriata 'Blue Heaven' burnt by an oil-based pesticide for treatment of mealy bugs.
Above Right: E. 'Moss Agate' showing yellow spots due to inorganic fertiliser burn and a tight centre due to lack of humidity.

Episcia are especially subject to foliar mealy bugs. Look on the back of young leaves on spent leaves and flowers, on stems and crevices. Symptoms of mites include centers of the stolons or main crown appearing dusty, curled up and hard.

Sometimes when centers turn brown and leaves completely shrivel up, it may not be mites. These symptoms may be from too high a percentage of nitrogen in the fertilizer which makes it too acid. Or it may be a symptom of salt build-up. Top watering once each six weeks is recommended. This could also be from lack of humidity.

When plants wilt although well-watered and seem not to be growing, in the 50s, it was usually a sign of nematodes, a pest we don't often get these days because of our use of soilless mix. In the past, many growers used a soil mix which contained garden loam and this is probably where most nematodes were picked up. Nowadays, these symptoms may be considered a sign of soil mealy bugs.

Crown rot is caused when soil mix is too heavy and keeps water in the plant. Make sure your soilless mix is light. Most growers recommend using a variation of one part peat moss, one part vermiculite, one part perlite with additives such as charcoal and other organics. Serious growers also use live sphagnum moss.

Mildew is caused by poor ventilation and air circulation.

GROWING CONDITIONS

Why does the stolon you received from a friend's plant not look the same as the mother plant? Growing conditions can make a stolon of your plant look very different from the plant from which it came. Soil mix, amount of light, humidity, different fertilizer and fertilization schedule as well as temperatures make two plants of the same variety look different.



Above: Due to different lighting conditions, the new leaves in E. 'Pink Panther' turned to a dark colour, which lack the two-toned colouration seen in the older leaves.


SLOW GROWING (COMPACT EPISCIA)

This is a partial list of the smaller growing plants that should be grown in three-inch pots.

'Amazon White', 'Chocolate & Cherries', 'Jade', 'Harvest Time', E. lilacina virdis, 'Rose Brocade', 'Star of Bethlehem', 'Still Meadows', 'Tropical Topaz', 'Annette', 'Longwood Gardens', 'Moss Brocade', 'Rose Gold Mist', 'Ruby Red Dress', 'Schizophrenia', 'Singing Sands' (a miniature), 'Sun Gold' and 'Toy Silver'.

'Colombia Orange' is an easy cultivar to grow and bloom and may be best treated as a small pot plant with stolons removed. It prefers more moisture than most Episcia .

An easy-to-grow pink flowered Episcia? Look for 'Green Haga' or 'Pink Haga'.


EPISCIA FOR HANGING BASKETS (HANGING/TRAILER-TYPES EPISCIA)

'Alouette', 'Cameo', 'Chocolate Soldier', 'Gray Lady', 'Helen-O', 'Tricolor', 'Tropical Topaz', 'Wine Brocade', 'Ronnie' and many others.


LARGE-LEAFED EPSICIA

'Chocolate Soldier', 'Carlyle', 'Fantasy', 'Golden Embers', 'Gray Lady', 'Green Haga', 'Halloween', 'Painted Warrior', 'Velvet', 'Velvet Green', many others.


EPISCIA
THAT LOOK ALIKE

'Acajou' - 'Daisy'
'Adam's Rib-Ebony' - 'Laquer Lady' - 'Chocolate Shine'
'Cameo-Ruby' - 'Velvet Brocade'
'Daisy-Cameo' - 'Yoer's Beauty' - 'Topsy'
'Fantasy' - 'Still Meadows'
'Fire and Ice' - 'Frosty'
'Golden Embers' - 'Green Haga'
'Green Cordaroy' - 'Red Cordaroy'
'Green Goddess' - 'Silver Challice'
'Harvest Time' - 'Velvet Green'
'Jade' - 'Canal Zone'
'Mari' - 'Kristina'
'Moss Agate' - 'Shades O' Erin'
'Mountain Haze' - 'Silver', 'Silver Cliffs', 'Sea Cliffs', 'Silver Sheen'
'Olive Lawson' - 'Rosewood'
'Painted Warrior' - 'Purple Glory' - 'Tinted Silver'
'Pinkiscia' - 'Pink Tropicana'
'Royal Robe' - 'Rosy Future'
'Cleopatra' - 'Pink Brocade' - 'Pink Dreams'
'Ronnie' - 'Pink Panther' - 'Teddy Bear'
'Strawberry Patch' - 'Gold Digger'
and many more...


EPISCIA
FOR BEGINNERS

'Acajou' blooms easily as does 'Moss Agate' and are among the easiest to grow for those just beginning a collection of Episcia.

'Cameo' is compact and has many stolons. 'Chocolate Soldier' (or versions of it) is sold everywhere with red flowers, and is very popular and easy to bloom.

'Ronnie' and 'Pink Panther' are fast-growing.

'Colombia (not spelled Columbia) Orange' with a very trailing habit offers many stolons. This cultivar is easy to grow and bloom when kept in a small pot but can become straggly if stolons are left to grow naturally.

'Ember Lace', a variegated sport like 'Cleopatra' emerged from a cross made between E. lilacina cultivar 'Cuprea' and E. cupreata. Its leaves are medium-sized and are brown irregularly blotched with pink and white. It is not easy to make bloom but is very popular because of the general appearance and color. It is an easy plant to maintain. Sparse flowers are pink.

'Jade', 'Moss Agate', 'Painted Warrior', 'Pinkiscia', 'Silver Sheen' (an excellent performer), 'Sun Gold', 'Tricolor', 'Tropical Topaz' and many others are considered easy to grow and to bloom.

Pink varieties such as 'Cleopatra', 'Pink Brocade' and others are not easy cultivars for the beginner. Pink leafed varieties seem to profit by growing in a terrarium. These are slow growers and can be more expensive than most Episcia. These pink varieties are more heat-sensitive and will not grow well in temperatures over 29 degree Celsius but will tolerate 13 degree Celsius for a short period of time if kept fairly dry. Water these plants sparingly at all times.

The pink varieties require slightly more light intensity than most other Episcia, 750 to 800 footcandles. They are often grown quite close to the lights, around 4 inches. Long-fiber sphagnum most may be substituted as soil medium.


GROWING EPISCIA FOR SHOW

Episcia grown for show should be given fresh soil about 3 months before show. If stolons are repeatedly cut or pinched off, the foliage of the main plant has time to grow larger. When it seems to fill about one-third of the pot, allow two stolons, one on each side of the plant to continue to grow, but pinch off any other stolons. When the three seem a good size, allow stolons to grow as they will.

To obtain flowers, pinch off stolons for a period before show then allow the buds to come into bloom.

Fertilizer is important throughout the growth of the Episcia and especially at three months before the show. Use a similar fertilizer schedule as for violets, 20-20-20 for two months, 15-36-15 for two months then for one feeding, use 5-52-10. Occasionally use Superthrive or other bloom boosters a few weeks before the show.


ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

Nancy Robitaille is from Montreal, Quebec, Canada and has been gardening for over 30 years. Her primary interests outside is roses, peonies, and lilies and she likes to experiment with Canna and other perennials. Nancy grows over 200 African violets, 60 Streptocarpus and 25 varieties of Episcia under lights in her home.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Green Culture Singapore is grateful to Nancy for allowing us to publish this highly informative article, perhaps one of its kind, available to Episcia growers.


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