Streptocarpus (group)

Common Name: Cape primrose 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Gesneriaceae
Zone: 10 to 11
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers freely
Bloom Description: Blue-purple, deep pink, white
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Tolerate: Heavy Shade


Cape primose can tolerate only very light frost. Plant in a bright but not sunny, warm, draft free location. They prefer a fertile, moist, humus-rich well-drained soil. This native of South Africa is related to the African violet and is grown under similar conditions. Water well, but allow to dry between waterings. Do not wet the foliage and avoid overwatering. They are best grown in cool to average temperatures. When growing indoors, an eastern exposure is ideal. These plants never tolerate direct sunlight. Mature plants should be cut back after flowering. The plant will remain dormant for up to three months after pruning. Cut back on watering and do not fertilize during this period. Remove faded flowers to prevent seeding.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Streptocarpus is an evergreen perennial grown for the large number of magnificent flowers it produces over a long period of time. The foliage is linear to rounded, velvety, heavily veined, wrinkled and some cultivars are without petioles. The flowers are long-tubed and usually have five petals. They occur in heads on short upright stems.

Genus name comes from the Greek words streptos meaning twisted and karpos meaning fruit for the twisted capsule.


Problems associated with growing cape primroses may include botrytis gray mold, basal rot, if grown too wet, mealybugs, aphids, thrips, spider mites and the leaf edges may turn brown if soil is too wet. Hard water may lead to chlorosis. For more information see: Problems Common to Many Indoor Plants

Garden Uses

Used as a flowering indoor plant or treated as an annual hanging basket if grown outdoors. Cape primrose also does well in containers on a shaded deck or patio.