Monday, May 20, 2024

Streptocarpus: Repotting and dividing

This lesson will demonstrate when and how to pot Streptocarpus plants into larger pots, and how to divide and repot a mature plant.  More so than some other gesneriads, streps like to have fresh, light, soil into which they can produce new root growth–they need “happy feet”.  Timely potting and repotting ensures that they will continue to grow and bloom.  Like African violets, properly cared for streps can live indefinitely–some streps in our collection have been in continuous bloom for 5 years or more

Streptocarpus

Step 1:  Potting-up into a 3″ pot.  When the first bloom appears on a young plantlet in its original 2″ pot, it is ready to be potted-up into a larger, 3″ pot.  It’s best if both the new soil (in the 3″ pot) and the plantlet’s soil are moist (not dry, not soggy).  Make a “mold” in the 3″ pot by making a hole in the center about the size of the plantlet’s pot.  Having done this, the plantlet can then be easily dropped into the molded hole.

Streptocarpus

Step 2:  The just potted plant.  Firm the plantlet in, and be sure to label the pot.  For the next 2-3 weeks after any repotting,water more sparingly!  The recently repotted plant needs time to establish new root growth into the additional soil. (See photo right)

Streptocarpus

Strep 3:  Potting-up into a 4″ or 5″ pot.  Once in a 3″ pot, most streps will growvery quickly!  For compact growers this means a 4″, and for most other varieties, a 5″ pot.  Shallow “azalea” pots are best.  Basically you just repeat step #1.  Make a mold in the larger pot by making a hole the approximate size of the smaller 3″ pot, then drop the plant into the hole and firm-in.  Again, water carefully for the next couple of weeks, until the plant develops new roots in the larger pot.  (see photo at left)

Streptocarpus

Step 4:  Dividing streps by separating crowns.  After about 6 months in its final, larger, pot, your strep will need to be repotted again into fresh soil.  By then, the plant may be thick with foliage and you may notice more than one plant, or “crown”, growing in the pot.  First, cut away some of the older growth.  These leaves have likely already produced a number of bloom stalks and have served their purpose (we’ve already done this with the plant pictured at left).  Next, you’ll want to divide and separate the multiple plants that appear in the pot.  Begin to do this by making a shallow cut through the surface growth that usually joins the multiple crowns.  Sometimes this growth is quite tough.  You needn’t cut through the entire rootball, just the tough growth at the surface.

Streptocarpus

Step 5:  Separate into two or more plants.  Once you’ve made the initial cut described above, firmly grasp the two plants and carefully pull apart.  You should be able to separate the original potted plant into two or more smaller plants, each with its own rootball.  At this point, these separate plants can each be potted into their own pots (repeat step 3).  Again, be careful in your watering immediately after potting.

In another 6 months or so, this will need to be repeated again.  Streps will go much longer without repotting, but will be healthiest, and perform and bloom best when repotting is done in a regular, timely, manner.  Gesneriads are “survivors”–they will do their best to live under even the worst of conditions, and streps are better at this than most.  But for them to look and perform their best, they need to be cared for when they require it, not when its “convenient” for us (though admittedly, we all procrastinate a bit….).

47 COMMENTS

  • Katrine MundbjergSeptember 16, 2021 4:22 pmThis year my streps have grown many smaller leaves in stead of the large ones they usually produce. They also don’t flower like they used to. Do you know why that may be?Reply
    • L011iP0POctober 6, 2021 10:03 amThey may simply need dividing and/or repotting. Environment, particularly light, might also play a role.
  • JessicaSeptember 5, 2021 1:55 amShould Streptocarpus have only one crown or ate several fine?Reply
    • Violet BarnOctober 6, 2021 10:04 amThey can be grown multicrowned. Much depends upon the look you want. Personally, we prefer to limit plants to only 2-3 crowns. Beyond that, they look to crowded/weedy to look attractive to us. We like to divide and repot every 6-9 months.
  • Constance DellingApril 14, 2021 2:32 pmI purchased three Streps potted originally in Sept. Two are growing like gangbusters, Cotton Candy and Solar Wind. I just got my first flower and two of the plants are loaded with buds. One, Electric Raspberry, just seems to be existing. It has got a few little leaves, but I had to trim back 1.5 of the larger leaves. All three plants are in exact same window, exact same tray but this little guy needs help. Any ideas? I am thinking of limiting water and seeing if maybe it needs less that the other two. Any ideas?Reply
    • Violet BarnApril 14, 2021 6:06 pmIf you haven’t repotted them yet, do so. Fresh soil can get the roots, and plant growing. The larger ones would have needed a larger pot by now–go to one size (1″) larger, and use a soil with a good deal of perlite (well draining). The smaller plant may not need a larger pot (judge based on size of root ball), but will appreciate the fresh soil.
  • Oksana P.August 24, 2020 10:57 amI have gotten 5 streps from you last week (your own hybrids), and some are blooming already . However, the flower are tiny, 1/2 inch in diameter and 3/4 from flower tip to the stems at MOST. I have Bristol’s cat scratch, cat dance, black rubies, black light and show off. Are the flowers for these varieties expected to be that small? (It would be good if flower size was listed in the descriptions). These steps just look tiny next to my collection of AV…if I want varieties with bigger flowers, could you please list some ?Reply
    • Violet BarnAugust 24, 2020 6:51 pmEven though they are blooming now, the plants are not mature yet. Blooms will be larger when they grow out and mature. The photos shown on the site are representative of the varieties.
  • Myra millinerAugust 12, 2020 2:22 pmI have several of your streps and they are all doing great. Should I cut the stalk off after blooms fall off or do I leave the empty bloom stalk.Reply
    • Violet BarnAugust 13, 2020 11:21 amRemove the entire bloom stem down to the leaf. Each leaf will produce 6-8 bloom stalks over time.
  • Jennifer GibbyDecember 28, 2019 1:39 pmI successfully grow AV in self watering pots or by wick watering. I have my first streptocarpus and nearly killed it right off. It currently has 1 large leaf and 2 very tiny leaves. On your advice I water from the top trying to not over water and not neglect it too much. Window sill growing with late day sun. Seems to like window. Does not seem happy with my watering. Would it grow happily in a self-watering or wicking planting situation?Reply
    • Violet BarnDecember 28, 2019 4:20 pmThey can be wicked but, since streps don’t like soggy feet, you MUST use a soil containing at least 50% perlite. Don’t force a small plant into a larger pot before its time. A well-established plant, with a developed root system, will more readily tolerate being kept wet.
  • Michael DixonOctober 27, 2019 5:09 amHi can you put two plug plants into one pot or should they be placed in seperate pots?Reply
    • Violet BarnOctober 28, 2019 3:50 pmYou can place in one pot together, but in long run will grow better in their own pots.
  • Dee ReschkeJuly 23, 2019 1:27 pmI recently purchased three Streps from your online catalog now I want to repot but want to make sure the medium is right. Every couple of days the leaves are wilting and I am afraid they are going to die. I have lost every Strep ever purchased. The plants are still in the same pot that they was shipped in. What are the best soil requirements, I have Fox Farm light warrior soil, my question is do I need to add either vermiculite, or perilite to the soil?Thank you
    Dee ReschkeReply
    • Violet BarnAugust 19, 2019 4:47 pmNot familiar with the soil mix mentioned. Streps generally prefer a light mix, containing plenty of perlite and/or coarse ingredients. Ideally, you want the soil to be moist, but avoid keeping it soggy since streps don’t like to be overwatered.
  • Diana GuignionJuly 8, 2019 2:15 amWondering what kind of fertilizer you use for your streps.Reply
    • Violet BarnJuly 8, 2019 11:53 amSame as we do for all of our other plants, a balanced formula (similar N-P-K numbers). Any houseplant food will work.
  • Hannelore monizJune 25, 2019 6:36 pmFound my first strepto, a few years ago at a friends house , fell in love ,it was white with a tiny deep bluey edge, well since then i bought one over the Internet because i could NOT find one anywhere, $ 17.95 plus shipping, Oh boy what arrived did not look like much of a plant , it had a 2 inch leave and a tiny little green thing that fell off right away,
    So i said hello little one lets see if you like RI, well its now 2 years later , its loaded with green leaves , actually Packed with green leaves and as of last week it has a Tal stem coming out and it is actually blooming, the flowers is beautiful, I forgotten what it was supposed to look like , but its s beautiful shade of dark pink with deep magenta edge , my question is, now that it is finally blooming, BUT SO MUCH foliage, does it need to be replanted, advice if you can , thank youReply
    • Violet BarnJune 29, 2019 11:31 amThis is up to you–it’s a judgement call, i.e. how many leaves are too many? Depends upon the appearance you want. You do want to remove very old leaves, though. They have already done their job and you want to give younger growth an opportunity to develop. Personally, we like to repot, and divide if necessary, every 6-9 months.
  • Maria AtbashianMarch 30, 2019 10:24 amI have purchased a plant from here and one of them is blooming and growing. The other is blooming but is not fully opening the flower. The bottom of the lip is curling up and not fully displaying the beautiful bloom. Is this something that could be fixed?Reply
    • Violet BarnApril 1, 2019 4:37 pmWould need to know the variety name–this may (or may not) be normal for the variety. If the bloom has just opened, it may simply be a matter of waiting and giving it some time to fully open.
  • sarah a andrewsMarch 21, 2019 3:03 pmI just received my assortment of 10 plants plus my streptocarcus . All except one AFV have buds on them .I am so thrilled with the combination that you sent to me . I am trying the strepto for the first time .
    I have purchased many violets violets from you . I am a learner , but getting better by following your advice .Thank you very muchReply
  • Karen ThorntonJanuary 28, 2019 1:03 amHow will I know when the roots have filled it’s current pot? Would I have to remove the strep or AV and look at it? I don’t want to hurt them.Reply
    • Violet BarnFebruary 2, 2019 10:07 amYou won’t know for certain, but the plant will look overgrown and will consume water faster than it had before (because of the larger root system).
  • MicheleNovember 23, 2018 11:36 amI have two streps (Falling Stars and Gloria) that are looong overdue for potting. They have developed a long horizontal “neck” where many leaves and bloom stems have come and gone. If it were an African violet “neck,” I would bury it when I repotted it. Does this also work for streps? Or will it just rot?Reply
    • Violet BarnNovember 27, 2018 10:57 amYes. You can bury the neck. When repotting, remove the old, woody, growth to give it a fresh start. That old growth won’t produce blooms anyway.
  • Jean petersonJune 12, 2018 1:00 amMy strep Bristol’s bluebopper has a white coating on the leaves. Mostly towards the ends. I have had It only a few weeks. It’s covering half of the leaf. The new little leaf in the center is okay.Reply
    • Violet BarnJune 12, 2018 11:18 amSounds like powdery mildew. Not lethal, mostly a nuisance, and not uncommon. Search this term on our homepage to be directed to more information from our plant care pages.
  • Brian PhilpMarch 8, 2018 9:02 amHaving grown streps for years with mixed success, I’ve just found your website.
    Last autumn I took leaf cuttings from 3 lovely streps and made 9 plants. I planted them in 4 inch pots however all but one are doing fine. Should I keep them in these pots until they are flowering?Reply
    • Violet BarnMarch 8, 2018 4:32 pmCan’t answer that without knowing more. General rule for pot size is one size larger than the root ball. If they haven’t filled the current pot with roots, no need for larger pot. Flowering (or lack of) is more a matter of light. Streps will bloom when quite young, even before they fully mature as a plant, if given sufficient light.
  • Sandra WillisJanuary 30, 2018 2:37 pmI have for sure made mistakes with my streps, as they are drooping and I have lost one totally. Either I am watering to much or I transplanted to soon, or both! The top soil looks so dry, and I water them. I have read (a little to late) on transplanting. So, I guess my question to you is, is there any chance after loosing the leaves that the plant might still produce new leaves? My AV’s are doing well, and I’ve done about the same with them as I did with my streps. I’m so sad and hoping the rest of my drooping streps might make it after all. These are supposed to be easy plants to grow. I have always grown house plants with no problems for years, thought I had a bit of a green thumb.Reply
    • Violet BarnFebruary 2, 2018 10:31 am“Drooping” leaves on streps can often be a sign of soil being too wet, soil being too dense/heavy, and/or being overpotted. Basically, the roots are not happy. Of course, they can wilt like any plant. If the soil is VERY dry and you water, sometimes the water merely “runs around” the dry root ball and out the pot bottom, not really watering the roots at all. In any event, if the center/new growth is still healthy, the plants should recover and grow. Streps are VERY tough plants–it takes more to kill them than others.
  • bonnie fiorelliJanuary 15, 2018 3:00 pmI have old strep plants. They have been in self watering pots for several years. After reading your repotting here I realize that these are in dire straits. There are several branch lets with small leaf clusters. They look like little plants. There are no roots at all just creeping along these branches. I would like to separate them and reroot is possible. I have had no luck in rooting leaves right along. I don’t want to loose them. What should I do.
    Thank youReply
  • Erin KaczmarowskiNovember 11, 2017 4:42 pmI have a streptocarpus that blooms very nicely but the ends of the large leaves always turn brown and dry. It’s done this almost the whole time I’ve had it. The plant overall seems quite healthy since it blooms so frequently but I’m wondering if there is anyway tip keep the foliage more attractive?Reply
    • Violet BarnNovember 15, 2017 9:30 amIt’s normal for very old leaves to look unsightly at some point, so if this is the case wouldn’t worry. If you see this on the new, younger, growth then would be concerned. Besides age, any kind of stress can cause this. May be rootbound and need dividing–in any case, repot and give it some fresh soil (don’t use a pot more than one size up from size of root ball). May be symptom of dryness/wilting, too much light, too much heat, too much fertilizer, etc. All are possibilities. Don’t hesitate to remove older leaves and “thin” the plant out. Each leaf will bloom a number of times, but after this, there’s no need to keep it, especially if not attractive.
  • RUth GeringerAugust 19, 2017 1:01 pmMy Streps. Were lovely for about 4-5 months , I repotted as directed but they did not come back well at all , they stopped blooming and look raggedy , they grow under a grow light bar. The leaves on most look like they were sun burned and seem to just be shrinking , I’m not a novice plant grower,m my violets do well and 2 small orchids, what’s happening to my streptocarpus ? Help!Reply
    • Violet BarnAugust 21, 2017 9:14 amWould need far more information than what’s provided here for a proper diagnosis. You can always call us during business hours.
  • Mary joAugust 5, 2017 10:44 pmI have my streps outside this summer in a protected area and they love it! What do you suggest I spray them with before bringing them inside for the fall and winter. I want to make sure I don’t bring any tiny critters inside! Thank youReply
  • Jo VargoJune 3, 2017 7:34 pmI just received 6 streps as a gift from my son. Do I wait u til they bloom to repot from the plastic pot they arrived in to a 3″ pot? I read the enclosed purple sheet and it stated that they should be repotted at about 6 months from the date on the plastic pot. Mine are dated Oct and Nov of 2016. Read about the repotting process on your site but I do not want to move them too soon and cause stress. I have had them about 2 weeks. No signs of bloom time yet. Thanks, JoReply
    • Violet BarnJune 7, 2017 4:40 pmSince streps don’t like to be overpotted, wait until you’re certain that plant has filled the current pot with roots before going to larger pot. When the plant looks top heavy and overgrown, this is likely the case.
  • ElizabethApril 18, 2017 1:44 pmWhat soil do you use when repotting and do they like fertilizer of any sort (such as compost tea)?Reply
    • Violet BarnApril 19, 2017 7:53 amStreps prefer a very light, coarse, soil. We like to use a soil with added perlite, much like a “wicking” soil. Any ordinary, balanced, houseplant fertilizer is sufficient.
  • Kathryn KilpatrickApril 13, 2017 1:25 pmMy streps were repotted into a 2 1/2 inch pot a few months ago. Now, they are budding and some are ready to burst into blooms. (yayyy) Do I need to leave them alone and let them enjoy blooming, or is this the time to repot into a 4 inch pot? I am so nervous I will upset them!!Reply
    • Violet BarnApril 14, 2017 7:26 amStreps will begin blooming when very young, even in the smallest of pots, sometimes before the plant has really grown very much (when this is case, we’ll remove blooms to encourage foliage growth). If plant has a full root system and can fill, or nearly fill, the current pot with roots, then it would be time to pot into a larger container.
  • Myra BritschgiAugust 10, 2016 1:35 amHave had these plants for years. I love them.I did not know how to care for them. Love your website! Thank you for all the info on these wonderful plants. Have one in bloom now & will get it repotted soon.

5 thoughts on “Streptocarpus: Repotting and dividing

  1. In my last order the plants arrived in good condition. They were growing and blooming soon after arriving. I’m looking forward to the arrival of my next order of streptocarpus.

    1. Is it normal for Streps to produce extra crowns more often than African Violets? Out of the six Streps I have gotten 3 have produced more than one crown. I am fixing to divide them and hoping I do a good job and they survive. This is a little scary for me!

      1. This is quite normal for streps. You can grow them with multiple crowns, but it is good to divide them every once in a while when you repot (at least once per year). This will keep the plant fresh and encourage new roots, new foliage, and blooms.

  2. I’ve had an inherited strep for 35 years (who knows how long its previous owner had it but it was large when I got it). I’ve repotted it once in that time and it currently lives in a huge terracotta pot. I love how this huge plant looks but it’s not blooming as much anymore and I know it needs repotting. What’s better for the plant: an even bigger pot (if I can find one) or dividing it into many smaller pots? Also, is 35-40+ years a normal lifespan for these plants?

    1. Remove the oldest leaves/growth, divide the plant and repot each part into its own pot. Use a pot just slightly larger than the root ball. Use a coarse, porous, soil, which streps prefer. Streps will bloom multiple times off of each leaf, but once the leaf gets too old (it has bloomed a few times), it serves no purpose on the plant and won’t bloom again. You can remove these. Like most plants, they will bloom most from younger growth. This is what you want to encourage–repotting and giving it a “fresh” start will help this. Given good care, and enough light, streps will blooms most every day of the year.

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