Tag Archives: pilea

Primulina (Chirita) Plants…Something New For You To Try!

chirita plants have beautiful foliage...

chirita plants have beautiful foliage…

No, we didn’t say Chiquita (It’s not a banana!) but chirita, as in chirita plant…these beauties are actually indoor plants closely related to the African violet in the gesneriad family. They’re relatively new on the plant scene, as many have only been released into cultivation within the last 15 years.

Though we are just now becoming familiar with them, Chirita (Also referred to as Primulina.)  is actually a huge genera and has 150 species, ranging from their native Sri Lanka and India through the Himalayas and into China and Southeast Asia. The islands of Sumatra, Java and Borneo also claim them. It’s quite an exotic!  Many of the species can be seen growing in their native habitats on rocky hillsides or cliffs, often on limestone.

Primulina - ChiritaGrown here for their beautiful foliage and flowers, we carry them whenever they’re available as an addition to the indoor landscape. We have quite a few in stock now if you’d like to try one. Their care is fairly simple and similar to African violets, which makes sense since they’re closely related.

Let the soil lightly dry between watering and water with lukewarm water. It’s better to err on the side of dryness – they don’t like to be soggy (Remember those rocky hillsides they grow on naturally!). They will suffer if over fertilized but do need some food. So, every other watering,  mix an even formula fertilizer (20-20-20 would be good) at 1/4 strength.

IMG1744Avoid direct sun on the foliage, especially during the hottest hours of the day. So, near East, West, or shaded South facing windows are ideal for the bright light they need to thrive and bloom. Like most houseplants, temperatures between 60-80 degrees are ideal.

Repot when the plant has filled the pot completely. As with many plants, when you repot it’s best to move only one pot size up. Shallow pots are better than deep pots since they’ll be less likely to hold too much moisture. Always lightly moisten the new potting soil  (We use Fafard soilless mix.).

chirita and episcia

chirita and episcia

The foliage on these plants is so beautiful that, even when they’re not in bloom, the plant is still quite striking. We’ve combined them with pilea and also with episcia, another pretty foliage plant, to great effect.

For all you adventuresome folks out there, these beautiful and easy care plants are definitely worth trying – and, since there are many in stock now, this is the perfect time to come in and have your pick of the greenhouse…because, really, who doesn’t need a little more of the exotic in their lives?

By Kris Blevons






Succulents…See Some Things We’ve Created!

succulents in the greenhouse...

succulents in the greenhouse…

air plants...

air plants…

With the spring planting season approaching, the nursery will be a plant lovers dream, filled with the best of everything we can find. These include fragrant, ornamental, and edible herbs, including the popular oregano ‘Kent’s Beauty’, sun and shade loving perennials for your garden,  bright, flowering annuals for pots and planting beds, and shrubs expressly selected for their ornamental qualities and durability in southern gardens.

Another grouping of plants we have all year around are succulents, and they are so beautiful arranged in containers for the summer or as a combination planting in the home all year around. Some shown here also incorporate tillandsias, or air plants because their care and culture is so similar.

living wreath...

living wreath…

The living wreath shown here that Molly planted was a huge hit on our Facebook page, and for good reason.  Just look at all the interesting textures and colors used, including echeverias, cryptanthus, air plants and even a tiny phalaenopsis orchid! This post on creating a living wreath give you some tips on how to make your own masterpiece. To see yet another that Jamie made, take a look HERE.

imageBecause succulents, air plants and even bromeliads (another great companion) come in so many different shapes, colors and sizes, it’s fun to come up with endless combinations. Here are more that we’ve created in the past few months.

In this long, narrow planter Lauren used a number of different plants including succulent echevarias, sedums, haworthias, and a pretty pink aloe. Meandering through this combination are pilea ‘Aquamarine.’

this will get large!

this will get large!


This two tier planting is going to get quite large! Flapjack kalanchoes share the space with a trailing succulent-like plant called dorotheanthus which will have charming little red flowers as the weather gets hotter. It’s also quite cold tolerant, though not completely hardy for us here. This container would be best moved in for the winter.






We’ve used cork bark planters to great effect in the past, and here Molly planted one with some really beautiful hen and chicks, sempervivum sp., and a couple of hardy sedums. This planting could be kept outdoors through the winter with the exception of the tiny aloes on each end, which can be repotted and moved inside during the colder months. The entire planting could also be moved into a sunny room for the winter.

one of two...

one of two…

air plants add height until the flapjack kalanchoe gets larger...

air plants add height until the flapjack kalanchoe gets larger…

The two pretty white pots shown here work together (There’s actually a third as well.) I used a tall tillandsia to add some height to this planting until the flapjack kalanchoe attained some size. The cryptanthus adds some color at the front and the pilea will contribute delicate trailing leaves to this composition.   In the second pot I added an echevaria to the planting, keeping the pinky color scheme going.

Be careful not to overwater if a container doesn't drain...

Be careful not to overwater if a container doesn’t drain…

Succulents can be planted in anything! This copper planter does not have drainage though, so the plantings need very careful attention to be sure they’re not overwatered – always be mindful of what kind of containers you’re using. Those that drain are always best. I have to confess I just really liked how this looked anyway! And, it’s been growing quite happily in the greenhouse since February.image

Succulents can be used as accents. too. Here a container is home to a tall sanseveria and  pussy willow stems with  sweet allysum tucked between for it’s dainty white blooms.

Finally, if you’re designing a container with succulents (Or anything!) remember the container you’re placing them in is part of the design as well.  This little log shaped planter is brown in color but  tinged with a touch of pink. I liked how the cryptanthus on the left picked up on that but contrasted with the other plants chosen to offset it in color and weight.image

So, with warmer weather right around the corner,  grab a pot, stop in , and find some succulents and air plants of your own to plant up – you can’t go wrong – promise!







An Old Iron Fountain….Repurposed!

Shiny and new...

Shiny and new…

The old iron fountain had seen better days; that’s for sure. Many, many years ago (over 20 now) it was the star of a brand new garden shop, and its place of prominence was at the very center of the entrance…the shiny black finish was reflected in the pool of water filling  the large, shallow basin.

Maybe some of you remember when you had to walk around it, in all its glory, to reach  the greenhouse. Though I have to say I wasn’t overly fond of the giant snails in this old photo!



Can you see the dog in the fountain?

Can you see the dog in the fountain?


The beautiful fountain was a fixture it seemed. Soon, the neighborhood dogs discovered the cool water in the large basin – it was a common sight to see a large lab or some other dog (Where did they come from anyway?) lolling in the water, tongue out, happy, happy.

Keeping the fountain filled was a chore, and we quickly  discovered a definite flaw in the design. The basin was too shallow to hold enough water – ever! So, to keep the fountain running consistently, we had to fill it continuously. Boy, the dogs really loved that. They kept coming…cool, running water any time they wanted it – such a treat!


planting begins....

planting begins….

After many years of fighting this, we decided to move the fountain into the greenhouse, but after one disastrous attempt to use it for a glorified goldfish pond (Note: Goldfish do not like iron or rust.), we finally gave up and it met it’s inglorious fate stored under a table…the enormous basin turned upside down and covered with plastic. The top tiered portion ended up outside, leaning precariously on its side, a sad sight for anyone who remembered it in its heyday.

photo (24)




I’d been wanting to move the top portion and plant it, but busy seasons came and went and there just didn’t seem to be the time or inclination (It is a very heavy piece of iron!). This summer, though, Jamie found the perfect spot in the greenhouse, and I planted it up. It has a new life once again as a fixture of Oak Street Garden Shop!

Because the three  basins are designed to hold water, the plants needed to be those that don’t mind moisture.  I also wanted to have enough plants cascading to create a “fountain” effect, as well as some to create  fullness but not get too large. We’ll see how it grows out.

photo (26)

Saxifraga stolonifera, strawberry begonia, was the first plant I chose. These are wonderful perennial groundcovers in moist, shady spots of the garden. Hopefully they will spread and cascade over the edge happily in their new home.

Next I added a dark leaved trailing coleus. Yes, there is a coleus that really spills! In addition, I tucked in a bit of pilea ‘Aquamarine’ – this plant seems to be able to grow in any conditions and I’m testing it here to see how it does. That’s one of the luxuries of working in the greenhouse – we can always substitute another plant if need be!

photo (23)One of the filler plants I used was a tiny grass, Acorus minimus – all the acorus love moisture so it should do well. I rounded out the filler plants with a few ferns and another bog plant called Syngonanthus chrysanthus  ‘Mikado’.  This is a definite test since we know next to nothing about this plant; however, the fountain basin should give it the boggy conditions it is supposed to prefer!

I’m glad the fountain has a new life and hope the planting grows out the way I envision it. The large basin is in yet another new spot outside, leaning against a sturdy wall. Hmmm… what next for it , I wonder? Only time will tell.