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What is Episcia?

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  • Written By: N. Phipps
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2016
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Flame violets, which is another word for the plants in the genus Episcia, are found within the tropical regions of both Central and South America. These perennial plants are typically grown as houseplants for their attractive, and often patterned, foliage. The leaves are also fuzzy and oval in appearance. Foliage color may be anywhere from green to bronze or purple.

In addition to their interesting foliage, the plants produce a wide range of colorful blooms. Episcia flower color includes red, pink, orange, yellow, and blue. The unusual foliage and small, trumpet-shaped flowers make an excellent addition to the home. Those lucky enough to live in warm, tropical-like regions can even grow these beauties outdoors.

When growing Episcia plants, it helps to understand their growth habit. These plants produce creeping stolons, which in turn create little plantlets. This particular feature also makes the plants excellent for use in hanging baskets. To induce additional flowering, the stolons can be easily pinched off. These can be used for producing additional plants as well.

Growing flame violets is easy and their care is much like that of African violets. Cuttings can be taken in summer or seeds can be sown just on the soil surface. Grow these plants in loose, humus-rich soil. Generally, an equal mix of loam, sand, peat moss, and leaf mold or compost can be used. Episcia plants also need bright, indirect sunlight.

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The soil or growing medium should be kept uniformly moist but not wet. In addition, they enjoy humid conditions. Lack of adequate humidity can usually cause their leaves to curl in an effort to conserve moisture. For the most part Episcia plants are low maintenance and require little to no fertilizer. Since Episicas don’t respond well to cool temperatures, they need a minimum temperature of around 60° F (16° C) to flourish. While they’re not usually susceptible to many pests or diseases, care should be given during irrigation. In order to avoid future problems with fungal growths or diseases, it’s best to avoid getting water on the leaves whenever possible.

There are various types of Episcia plants available for growers. Some of the most common include E. lilacina, E. dianthiflora, E. reptans, and E. cupreata. The first one is known for its reddish-purple, velvety foliage and lilac-colored blooms. Lace flower Episcias, or E. dianthiflora, have dark green leaves with attractive lacy, white flowers.

The Episcia reptans species produces interesting brownish-green leaves that include silvery markings. This one also includes stunning scarlet-colored blooms. The variety E. cupreata has scarlet flowers as well but its foliage is fuzzier and purple in color.

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