Question: My species plant of S. orbicularis purperea is growing well, but has begun to sucker heavily. Is it best to grow single-crowned, or am I better off letting is sucker naturally?
Answer: Unlike our modern hybrids, which are developed to grow best in a specific form, the Saintpauliaspecies plants can be successfully grown either single nor multi-crowned. The AVSA Master Variety Listsays this species “may be grown single-crowned–does not sucker”. The operative word here is “may”, since many of the species seem to have a mind of their own, and grow best in different forms for different growers. Personally, we have found S. orbicularis to be one species that grows more naturally multi-crowned.
Other species, like S. ionantha, S. velutina, and S. diplotricha, grow extremely well and easily for us as single-crowned plants. They can, however, be grown multi-crowned, if this is their preferred habit under your conditions. To quote from the AVSA Handbook for Judges and Exhibitors, “judges must look at the species as native or wild plants. Occasionally, in the wild habitat, they may have an extra crown or two.” Keep in mind that only the species and trailing varieties can be exhibited as multi-crowned