Episcia - Gesneriaceae - How to care for and grow Episcia plants

Episcia - Gesneriaceae - How to care for and grow Episcia plants



The Episcia sThey are small stoloniferous plants that are very cultivated because they form real lawns, very attractive as they have been selected cultures and hybrids that produce leaves with very pleasant colors.






: Angiosperms


: Eudicotyledons


: Asteris











: see the paragraph on "Main species"


The genre Episcia, belonging to the large family of Gesneriaceaeincludes evergreen plants native to the tropical forests of South-Central America.

These are perennial herbaceous plants, stoloniferous, with a creeping habit that usually do not exceed 15-20 cm in height and form real lawns.

The leaves are usually large, opposite, often variegated and covered with a light down at whose armpit the solitary flowers develop, often gathered in groups, characterized by a tubular corolla and by colors ranging from red, to pink, to white, to lilac.

They are plants that can be grown both as creeping plants and as hanging baskets with a great decorative effect.


The genre Episcia includes about 40 species among which we remember:


L'Episcia cupreata, a perennial plant native to Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil, is among the most cultivated species as an ornamental plant. It is characterized by oval green leaves with metallic and slightly velvety reflections. It blooms from spring to autumn producing red and yellow flowers sometimes with red spots in the throat.

There are numerous hybrids that differ from each other for the different shades of the leaves.


There Episcia lilacina it is a perennial epiphytic or terrestrial creeping plant which forms ovate copper-green leaves, 5 cm long, with green veins and a red underside. It blooms from spring to autumn producing flowers, gathered in racemic inflorescences, white in color with blue-lavender throats.


There Episcia reptans It is a plant that has large leaves covered with a light down, of a beautiful dark green color and with silver veins. The flowers are bright red.


There Episcia dianthiflora it is a species native to Mexico and CostaRica and is a creeping perennial plant, characterized by dark green oval leaves and solitary white flowers that bloom from spring to autumn.


The Episcia they are plants of easy cultivation and do not require particular precautions if one considers that they are plants of tropical origin.

The minimum cultivation temperatures must not fall below 12-15 ° C and have no problems with maximum temperatures. This means that in regions with cold winters, plants must be stored in sheltered places.

The light must be intense but must not be exposed to direct sun. We realize if the amount of light to which the plant is exposed is sufficient from the internodes which in case of low light tend to stretch and the plant not to bloom.


During the spring-stivo period the Episcia should be watered regularly, keeping the soil moist, not soaked, and waiting for it to dry slightly on the surface before proceeding with the subsequent irrigations.During the autumn - winter period, watering should be drastically reduced and watered just enough so as not to dry out the topsoil.

They are plants that love humid environments so it would be advisable to place the pot in a saucer with gravel or other inert material in which there will be a little water (be careful that the water is not in contact with the bottom of the pot) which evaporating will guarantee a humid environment around the plant.


The repotting of Episcia it is done when the pot has become too small to contain the plant, in early spring. In the choice of the pot it is preferable to choose a wider pot than a deep one as the roots are quite superficial.

You can use a mixture formed by peat, leaf soil with the addition of a little coarse sand to help drain the irrigation water as they are plants that do not tolerate water stagnation.


During the spring - summer period, fertilize with a liquid-diluted fertilizer in the irrigation water, once a month, decreasing the doses compared to what is indicated in the package.

Use a good complete fertilizer that in addition to having nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K) also contains the so-called microelements, i.e. those compounds that the plant needs in minimal quantities (but still needs them) such as magnesium (Mg), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo), all important for a correct and balanced plant growth.


The Episcia they are plants that cannot be pruned. The parts that dry out are simply eliminated to prevent them from becoming a vehicle for disease.


The quickest and safest way to multiply Episcia it is through division of the stolons.

In spring, pieces of stolons are taken from the plant and rooted in a mixture of peat and sand. In a short time they will take root.


Leaves that turn yellow and mottled

If the leaves show this symptom associated with the presence of thin cobwebs, especially on the underside of the leaves, it means that the plant has undergone an attack of red spider, a very harmful mite.

Remedies: increase the ambient humidity around the plant as a dry climate favors their proliferation. Only in case of a severe infestation use a specific insecticide.

Presence of aphids on all green parts of the plant

Small whitish insects that are found all over the green parts of the plant may be aphids commonly known as lice.

Remedies: the plant must be treated with specific pesticides.

Poisonous plants: List of autochthonous-native species

Which plants to choose for a book like this? It is not easy also because, if we wanted to examine the problem carefully, any plant, in particular circumstances and quantities, could turn out to be toxic (for example, parsley). But the question is: which plants are actually responsible for poisoning and which, although poisonous, represent a remote danger that is more theoretical than real?

The answer is easily obtained by examining the data collected in more than 40 years of activity since Poison Control Center (CAV) of Milan, which is based at theNiguarda Ca 'Granda Hospital in Milan. The plants that, on the basis of clinical experience, cause adverse effects, are largely those of the flower market and, in particular, the well-known "houseplants". These are mostly plants that do not belong to our climate and must necessarily be kept indoors, at least during the bad season.

The symptoms that occur following the ingestion, usually accidental (especially children), of parts of these plants can also be serious, however it is always relatively easy for the doctor to trace, through the competent sources, the botanical identity of the intoxicating cause. In fact, these plants are always available from horticulturalists, garden centers and botanical gardens and, once the correct scientific binomial (Latin name) of the species sought has been established, it is possible to trace the class of chemicals involved in the symptoms of poisoning thanks to special banks. data available at hospitals and universities.

The situation of symptoms resulting from the ingestion of plants of the spontaneous flora, the so-called "wild herbs", whether they are indigenous or spontaneously exotic and, in some cases, even simple contact with them is quite different. The problems here appear manifold (Colombo et al., 2006, 2010a, 2010b Davanzo et al., 2011). In fact, what is often ignored is that nature and its fruits are not always synonymous with safety and harmlessness and that, on the contrary, they hide even serious dangers even behind their apparently most harmless forms, plants (Warrel, 2009). In fact, the toxicity of some species has been known and used since ancient times, the death of Socrates being the most illustrious example (Schmidt et al., 2008 Dayan, 2009), but those who approach nature in search of edible plants seem to ignore or underestimate the risk of confusing them with other more dangerous ones (Moro et al., 2009a, 2009b): Table 1 shows the spontaneous and spontaneous species, in addition to those cultivated, which more frequently than others have been subject to risk exposure and / or intoxication, according to the data of 13 years of monitoring (from 1995 to 2007).

Tab. 1 - List of autochthonous / native (n) and introduced (i) species, concerning plant-related exposures at risk, monitored by the CAV of Milan in the period 1995-2007 (from Colombo et al., 2010a, modified).

Thanks to Italian Society of Natural Sciences Corso Venezia 55, 20121 MILAN Tel. And Fax 02-795965 e-mail: [email protected]

All rights reserved Authors: Enrico Banfi, Maria Laura Colombo, Franca Davanzo, Chiara Falciola, Gabriele Galasso, Emanuela Martino and Sandro Perego

Species and varieties

Cocos nucifera: of this species, native to the Pacific islands (where it is cultivated for the production of coconuts), young specimens grown in pots are found on the market and characterized by a tuft of long, pinnate leaves divided into linear segments carried by a long stalk protruding from a half-buried coconut. Under these conditions the plant cannot grow more than 2-3 m. (unlike the 30 he reaches in his places of origin) and usually does not live for many years. The “Nino” variety is particularly suitable for growing in pots due to its compact habit and the beauty and brightness of the leaves.

Pests and diseases Alsobia

If the plant is placed in excessively humid environments such as bathrooms and kitchens, the plant suffers from the attacks of cochineal, an animal parasite that forms whitish cottony masses that are clearly visible on the leaves and stems, especially on the more internal or poorly ventilated ones. It suffers from root rot due to water stagnation.

Cures and treatments

Alsobia is a low-maintenance plant and requires special care. You just have to pay attention to environmental humidity and light. Excessive humidity causes the stems to soften, while if the light is insufficient, the plant struggles to bloom and, in both cases, it will be sufficient to move it to a brighter and more ventilated environment, avoiding the strong temperature variations that are not at all appreciated by Alsobia.

If a few cochineals appear on the twigs, they can be removed with a cotton wool soaked in alcohol while if the infestation is extensive, the foliage of the plant must be sprayed with a specific pesticide.

Episcia - Gesneriaceae - How to care for and grow Episcia plants

Nature likes refined colors, strong color combinations, images repeated endlessly to create mosaics of alternating shapes and colors.

He never misses an opportunity to show us colors and, for this purpose, in addition to flowers, he often uses foliage as well.

A quick visit to Park Pheonix in Nice confirms the extraordinary ability of the green world to invent colorful palettes with herbs and plants that present unusual colors and colorful kaleidoscopes.

In that place these plants, usually herbaceous suitable for shady and humid areas, showed all their beauty. The leaves are arranged in such a way as to make the most of the lighting of the place, widening and expanding so as to create large thick silvery, red or violet spots. Bright contrasts between greens of various shades are encountered: from the dark, opaque one of old bottles to the very clear and lively one of emeralds. White colors the ribs, highlights them and is drawn with mysterious writing on very intense greens. Carmine red and fuchsia flare vividly, incredible for their beauty and elegance, surrounded by bright greens. Sometimes the green is ignored, it no longer exists, and the whole plant is cloaked in purple, red or purple.

Parallel lines of various colors: yellow, red, pink and green run along long arched leaves.

Pinkish spots camouflage small leaves, bright red margins instead accentuate the shape. The bronze glistens and glitters in the dim light, sometimes spotted by small red flowers and lighter designs (Episcia cupreata).

Mosaics and kaleidoscopes of leaves in the home and in the garden

It is possible to reproduce this kaleidoscope of leaves even in homes and in our gardens.

Of course, a single plant does not have the effect of many arranged in spots, so colors and shapes are enhanced if continuous repetitions of their characteristic motifs are created.

Plants with decorative foliage must therefore be used if possible on large surfaces and associated with each other in order to create pictorial effects to personal taste and liking, elaborate mosaics in which the colors alternate regularly.

Even in the apartment you can associate plants with decorative foliage, carefully choosing those that have something in common, but also something different. In this way the decorative effect is ensured.

They can be placed in large planters, placing the lower ones in the front row, behind, the more erect ones. Some species, such as the Fittonia verschaffeltii and the Pellionia daveauana they widen horizontally, are only a few centimeters high, and therefore require adequate space.

The shady flower beds, in the summer and in suitable areas, can welcome the colors of these plants without flowers and with a prostrate bearing followed by taller plants, such as the beautiful Coleus. For some, good atmospheric humidity and shelter from direct sun are needed. Some are suitable for dry and hot climates, such asAnanas comosus 'Variegatus'.

There Neoregelia carolinae 'Tricolor' produces a spectacular effect when placed in symmetrical and regular groups. The red of the central rosette suddenly stops to continue in the yellow and green, drawing parallel streaks that rejoin the pointed apex. In addition to its colors, therefore, the very shape of the leaves adds beauty to beauty.

There Guzmania zahnii 'Sunstar' it also has colored longitudinal bands in which the dominant color is deep pink just marked by thin green lines.

Green and red in this variety of Caladium x hortulanum 'Red Flash' are decorative colors and contrasts. The flowers are no longer needed and the colors of the large leaves have nothing to envy to those of showy blooms. Green is only on the edges, while red dominates the leaf.

Conversely, in the leaves of the Cordyline terminalis 'Rubra' the red is on the edges and the dark green contrasts with it.

Red and green also dominate the spathe of Anthurium andreanum in which it seems that the green of the leaves is trying to invade and gradually replace the glossy red, common in many varieties.

Definitely red ribs are drawn with meticulous precision on the bronze-green leaves of the Fittonia verschaffelti

There Hypoestes phyllostachya it has dark green leaves flecked with intense pink. In relation to the variety the contrasts can be accentuated.

There Iresine herbstii 'Brilliant' even, it has no green part, 'suffocated' as it is by the lively red. In this way it defends itself from parasites. They certainly cannot imagine that these 'flames' are edible, as they are so far and different from the common patterns of the plant kingdom.

Green and white are another pleasant and widespread combination. It can be seen in theAlocasia 'Black Velvet' where the white veins draw the leaves with impressive and precise embroidery, in Fittonia verschaffelti 'Argyroneura' in which all the minimal veins of the foliage are drawn with silver threads.

Straight white lines are drawn on the leaves of theOplismenus hyrtellus 'Variegatus' which in some varieties then turn towards pink hues.

In theAnanas comosus 'Variegatus') it is yellow that approaches green in linear bands. Light yellow are the ribs of the Aphelandra squarrosa arranged in a herringbone pattern on a dark green background.

Another group of plants has been able to exploit all shades of green.

In Pellionia pulcra only the central band of the leaves is green, while the very dark bronze and the almost black bottle green, sometimes just lit by brown reflections, are the dominant ones present in the Pellionia daveauana.

There Vriesea hieroglyphica and the Aechmea chantinii they alternate on their leaves, with an elegant arched shape, serpentine zebra stripes of light green and dark green.

Metallic reflections appear on the dark leaves of the Strobilanthes dyerianus decorated, between the ribs, with geometric violet spots.

Having space in height and wanting to enjoy a somewhat particular atmosphere, large creepers with decorative leaves can be used, suitable for creating spectacular vertical curtains of intense beauty. It is necessary to ensure them light supports, which will then be covered so much as to be invisible.

The Cissus discolor it can grow for meters and meters and, by branching, produce large carpets of leaves. The upper page is dark green along the main vein and colored by silver embroideries along the lateral ones up to the leaf margin. The reverse is of an intense violet-very dark purple. Since all the leaves are arranged in the same orientation on the two surfaces, both the right and the reverse can be seen at the same time.

There Passiflora trifasciata finally, it is filled with cascades of shoots covered with violet or dark green trefoil leaves in which original pink and then yellow spots run along the three main veins.

Almost all of these plants, however easily available everywhere, can be grown without problems, as long as they are correctly acclimatized, given suffused light and good atmospheric humidity. Then you need taste, imagination and creativity to obtain the best combinations in order to enhance their beauty thanks to the pictorial effects produced by the leaves alone.

Video: Flame violet Episciaplants care and propagation