If you enjoy growing and caring for plants, you probably also enjoy the challenge of growing some that aren’t necessarily the easiest to care for in the world. After all, some of the most fickle plants in existence are also the most beautiful, provided you give them the time and attention they command. Calceolaria is definitely a plant that falls into this category. They have quite a specific region where they grow in natural conditions and they’re not the easiest to care for. That being said, they’re absolutely stunning to look at. If you’ve always wanted to grow your own calceolaria, here’s what you need to do in order to have beautiful, healthy plants.
Calceolaria: Understanding the Nature of the Flower
Many people that have spent their fair share of time around flowers know that the only thing that even comes close to competing with the amount of names people have for calceolaria is the number of plants involved in this particular family. That’s because the genus from which this particular plant comes from, Calciolariacaea, has almost 400 plants that are part of the family. Calceolaria is only one of them.
Just in case you’re curious, it also has a number of nicknames attached to it as well. Just some of those names include slipperwort, lady’s purse, pocketbook flower and even slipper flower. There is another name for a very specific type of calceolaria that is only grown in greenhouses called florist slipperwort. As far as the version of the plant that grows naturally is concerned, you’ll have to travel to Central Mexico to see them for yourself. If that doesn’t work for you, you might be able to find some in Patagonia, but that’s about it for finding calceolaria that grows naturally. Fortunately, you can grow it in greenhouses and indoors as a potted plant.
Spotting Calceolaria for Sale in Your Region
While you may not be able to find calceolaria that’s growing naturally in the wild, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find it in virtually any place you live, provided you know where to look. That’s because it is a popular plant that’s typically cultivated and then made available for sale at certain times of the year. If you live in the United States, you can find it relatively easily anytime between mid February and late April. As a matter of fact, the plant has become so popular that almost every garden center worth its salt will have these types of plants available for sale.
How exactly are you supposed to spot calceolaria that’s available for sale? Fortunately, this is one of the more prominent plants when it comes to its features, so it’s easy to know exactly what you’re looking at. These plants are potted plants, so it’s important to remember that you’re not looking for something that’s taller than you are. They’re colorful, with bright green leaves that easily resemble the types of leaves you would find on a geranium. As far as the flowers themselves, you’re looking for something that’s brightly colored and slightly resembles slippers or even a purse, hence its name. More often than not, the flowers are a bright yellow with some pops of red color splashed throughout.
Caring for Your New Houseplant
As long as you’re caring for a plant that’s already been cultivated, the process is relatively straightforward. The most important thing you can do is keep the plant indoors, away from direct sunlight. These plants grow in a region that is typically considered to be hot and dry, but in this particular case, they grow in elevation. As a result, the ambient temperature there is much cooler. In addition, this particular region doesn’t see as much sunlight. Therefore, putting one of these plants in a window that gets direct sunlight can be extremely detrimental.
If you have no place to put the plant but in a windowsill, make sure that you’re picky about which window you choose. The last thing you want is to put it in an area where the hottest rays of the sun will be hitting the plant directly, especially when things really start to heat up in the afternoon. It’s really best to find an area where there is a source of relatively bright light in the room, yet the plant is sitting on a surface that is located away from that particular light source.
You definitely don’t want to put your new plant in complete darkness, but these plants simply cannot tolerate direct sunlight. By the same token, they don’t do well with a lot of heat. This is especially important if you live in an area where the temperatures tend to be much warmer. You’re not just worried about direct sunlight in this case, but also how warm it gets in the location where the plant is displayed. It’s best to keep the sun’s rays directly off of it and keep it in an area where the temperature is relatively stable and not too hot.
Watering Your New Plant
This is another key component of caring for your already cultivated calceolaria. If you water it too much, it won’t be very long until the plant starts to die. It’s imperative that you get both the lighting and watering correct. Otherwise, your plant won’t stand a chance in the long-term.
Your plant really should have come in a pot that has a drain hole in the bottom. If it didn’t, the first thing you’ll want to do is replant it into a pot that does have this feature. That’s because these plants can’t tolerate having too much moisture. Therefore, you need something that allows excess moisture to drain away. In fact, when you water them it’s really best to leave them in a place where they can drain for up to 10 minutes. The last thing you want to do is inadvertently trap water in the pot.
After you’ve retrieved your plant from the sink or wherever you left it to drain, make a point of not watering it again until the soil is dry to the touch. This is definitely not a plant that needs to be watered on a daily basis.
Growing Your Calceolaria from a Seed
What if you don’t want to purchase a plant that’s already been cultivated for the purposes of enjoying it as a houseplant? In some cases, you might be far more interested in planting calceolaria seeds in your front yard and watching them take root. Fortunately, this is something you can do. However, you have to be very aware of the amount of sun these plants get as well as the heat that is typically experienced throughout the day.
Growing calceolaria from seeds is definitely not impossible, but it may not be a task that first-time gardeners want to tackle, either. The plant needs more sun as the seeds are sprouting than it does once they’ve actually come up and become fully formed. That means that you’re going to have to move the plants from one location to another at least once. Plant them where they can get full sun in the morning, when the temperatures are cooler. Once they’ve actually bloomed, they’ll need cooler temperatures.
Some people don’t have a problem transplanting flowers from one location to another, but it’s enough to make others decide that it just isn’t worth it. In addition to the added level of work required, it’s definitely a shock to the system for plants when they are moved from one location to the next. Unfortunately, some of them don’t survive.
In addition, it’s worth noting that these plants only bloom once a year, during early spring. They don’t tend to do well during the heat of the summer and in many cases, they will simply die off. That is especially true in warmer climates where the temperature can exceed 90 or even 100 degrees, even in the shade. Why do you need to know whether or not plants that you worked so hard to grow and care for will come back next year? For some, it simply isn’t worth it to go to all of this effort of planting and replanting, only to have the plants die a few months later anyway. The choice is yours.
Can You Grow Calceolaria in a Greenhouse?
Fortunately, you can indeed grow calceolaria in a greenhouse. Truth be told, these plants do their best when outdoor temperatures don’t succeed 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, your best bet (if growing the plant outdoors) is to carefully cultivate it in a greenhouse that is temperature controlled. These plants can be touchy in the sense that they don’t do well at all in temperatures that are below freezing, but they also tend to die off rather quickly when temperatures get into the 80s. In some cases, temperatures in the upper 70s can even be detrimental if they have the sun beating down on them all day.
If you prefer to grow your calceolaria in a greenhouse, there are a few things that you should be aware of. First and foremost, make sure that you have some type of shade that can be pulled down in order to keep direct sunlight off the plants. If you have a greenhouse with an opaque design as opposed to the clear plastic that is sometimes used, you should be okay. That being said, it is absolutely crucial that you either live in a region that these plants can thrive in or that you’re capable of controlling the temperature inside the greenhouse.
Again, your other major concern involves the amount of water that the plants will get in a greenhouse. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about a fully cultivated plant or seedling, the same thing holds true. They need to be in loose soil that will allow them to drain and they should only be watered when the soil is visibly dry (just like the potted plant you grow in your house). If you’re wondering about fertilizer, the good news is that they don’t need anything that’s particularly difficult to handle. In fact, a basic fertilizer will usually do the trick. In many cases, you can simply add in some peat moss to help them grow faster and hold on to their blooms longer.
The Best Way to Grow and Care for Calceolaria
You’ve been given a number of options when it comes to growing and caring for calceolaria. Now you know that you can grow the plant outdoors as well as in a greenhouse. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s the best way to go about things where this particular plant is concerned. In fact, the best way to ensure a happy and healthy calceolaria is to grow it as a potted plant inside your home.
Why does this particular method work better than others? It all comes back to the basics of controlling light and water. When you’re growing the plant indoors, you have complete control over the amount of sunlight the plant gets. You can also more carefully monitor the amount of water that’s in the soil because you have to water it in order to keep it growing. Outdoors, you’re at the mercy of the weather. You can always add water, but you can’t take it away after heavy rainfall.
Last but certainly not least, growing the plant indoors allows you to control the temperature, something that is very important where calceolaria is concerned. Remember, these plants don’t like it particularly cold, but they definitely don’t like the heat. If you live in a warmer climate, this may be the only way that you can truly enjoy them.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you. Don’t be afraid to try growing the plant with all of the different methods discussed herein. After experimenting for a while, you’ll find the method that works best for you. Most importantly, remember to sit back and enjoy the beauty that these plants have to offer.