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Remember your grandmother’s African violets? Pretty, fussy and a bit old fashioned. Alsobia, aka Lace Flower Vine is the breakout member of the family – cascading (not stiffly uniform) stems, eclectic fringed flowers and a vigorous temperament.
In the warmest parts of the country Alsobia can be grown outdoors but for most of us it’s value is as a great windowsill plant. While a lace flower vine can spend some time outside during the summer, it needs to come indoors when the temperature begins to drop below 50 degrees. Alsobia likes bright, indirect light. That translates into a site where a little early morning sun might sneak in but for the rest of the day when the sun is strongest, the plant isn't in direct sunlight.
As a member of the African violet clan, the lace flower vine prefers similar soil conditions. Either plant in commercially available African violet soil or make your own mix with 1 part each of peat moss, perlite and vermiculite. This mix provides the good drainage that is essential for the long term health of these plants.
The above soil mix is great for drainage and resist compaction, even if left in the same container for several years. It doesn’t, however, offer much in terms of nutrition. That needs to come from a light feeding every other week or so. Just mix a few drops of any water soluble fertilizer in when you water, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Fertilizers formulated for African violets typically offer a 1-3-1 ratio of nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium, which is perfect for robust flower production.
There are two recommended ways to water plants in this family. The first is from the bottom up, where you place the plant pot in a saucer of fertilizer-enriched water and let the moisture absorb into the soil. The second is by using a spouted watering can to add water to the soil surface while avoiding splashing water on the leaves and stems. Splashed water can spot the leaves.
Light: Bright indirect light
Soil: Well drained; African violets soil is ideal
Water: Keep very lightly moist
Uses: Hanging baskets and windowsill pots
Tips: Feed lightly every couple weeks with liquid fertilizer
They Start Out looking Like This:
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