From this herbaceous perennial native to the warm regions of Central and South America during its flowering, it is impossible to take your eyes off. Calceolaria flowers are unusual in shape, reminiscent of a purse or a miniature slipper, and infinitely varied in color. In translation, its name sounds like this – “little shoe”. Planting and caring for Calceolaria has its own characteristics for home conditions and for open ground, but in general, they are not burdensome and, with certain diligence and knowledge, a novice amateur can do it.
General description with photo
The genus Calceolaria belongs to the family of the same name. Despite the fact that in nature this plant is a perennial, in our climatic conditions it does not live long. When grown outdoors, it is used as an annual or biennial. In nature, Calceolaria, depending on the variety, can take the form of not only grass, but also a shrub and even a shrub, but in our country it always grows compactly and usually does not exceed 30 cm (in rare cases 50 cm) neither in width nor in height.
The arrangement of bright green corrugated leaves is opposite or whorled. The flowers are bright, two-lipped, while the upper lip is tiny, and the lower lip is large, spherical, like a swollen hollow ball. Inside are only 2-3 stamens. On one bush there can be up to fifty small buds. Flowering is medium long, from 3 to 5 weeks. After it, in the place of each bud, a seed pod with very small seeds ripens.
Varieties of Calceolaria with a photo
In total, in this rich family, biologists have up to four hundred varieties, the choice of which for home breeding, however, is very limited. Let’s consider them in more detail.
A variety originally from Chile, very elegant and original. It is she who is most often found in home breeding. The stem of the plant is strongly branched, erect. This original flower can often be found in garden plots, where it is planted as a blooming annual. The flowers are bright yellow, sometimes with dark brown spots. With normal planting in the ground, flowering occurs in early summer, with seedling cultivation it can bloom almost a month earlier.
The best varieties of wrinkled Calceolaria: Goldbukett (large inflorescences), Triomphe de Versailles (higher shoots and small flowers) and Sunset with its orange or deep red flowers, dwarf growth. This is a cold-resistant variety that can survive short-term frosts down to -5C.
A large variety that grows up to half a meter. The basal leaves are toothed, the flowers are flattened-oblong, with a dark purple color.
In shady, moisture-intensive places, this species can also stretch up to half a meter in height. The flowers are yellow, with a well-defined “bag” of the lower petal.
This variety includes flowers obtained by the selection method with a large palette of colors. In addition to the variety of the basic tone of the petals, they have spectacular strokes, stains, dots, blots and other contrasting inclusions. The Dundee hybrid, which blooms in bright red, is very popular.
The plant is susceptible to fungal diseases, for this reason it is recommended to treat the plot or land in a pot with fungicides as a preventive measure.
For planting in open ground, you should choose a place that is moist and relatively shaded; Calceolaria does not like bright sun. In the wild, it grows on wooded mountain slopes, but at the same time it loves warmth.
The moisture requirements of this crop are increased, and at the moment it is a certain difficulty for home cultivation, since this flower cannot be sprayed, this adversely affects the appearance of the plant. High humidity will have to be provided by other methods, for example, by installing a tray with water or wet expanded clay next to it.
Despite the fact that Calceolaria is considered a heat-loving plant, it does not like heat in the apartment. Content within + 16 … + 18C will be ideal for her. At elevated temperatures, the plant is easily susceptible to diseases and insect attacks, and can also turn yellow and lose foliage. In winter, it is advisable to lower the temperature by a few more degrees, for example, place a flower on a veranda or on a closed and relatively insulated loggia.
The open sun for Calceolaria is contraindicated. On the site, it is better for her to take a place with partial shading. And at home, place on the north, northwest or east window. She will feel good not on the windowsill, but not quite in the back of the room, because complete shading will lead to a lack of flowers. In winter, the plant should stand on the window or have artificial lighting.
A pot of Calceolaria can be taken out into the open air in summer, but drafts and wind should be carefully avoided.
As a houseplant, Calceolaria can be planted in ready-made soil for flowering herbaceous crops. When preparing the soil mixture yourself, you need to take care of its moisture capacity and nutritional value. Good soil amendments are vermiculite, gutted moss, wood ash, or chopped pine needles.
Moisturizing should be moderate, but permanent. The maximum allowable drying of the soil during the budding period is 2 cm deep. At home, water should be warm and settled, especially with a sharp drop in its temperature from room temperature. During flowering, the bushes should be watered once a week, but more frequent watering may be required in the heat. Water should not stagnate in the pan, this can lead to rotting or fungal infection of the roots. When flowering is over, watering becomes more moderate. If the flower is in the sun or growing in an open area, it should be watered frequently.
An ideal fertilizer for Calceolaria would be a liquid mineral complex. It should be applied no more than 2 times a month. After transplantation, the flower can be fertilized for the first time no earlier than 2 weeks later. In autumn and winter, top dressing is not required and can be harmful.
Reproduction of Calceolaria
There are two simple ways to plant this flower – seeds and vegetative division.
You can plant Calceolaria at home at any time, but this is usually done in March or late summer. The soil should not be acidic and peaty. Before planting seeds, it must be calcined or spilled with a manganese solution. The seed material is very small (several thousand pieces for only 1 gram), so you just need to scatter it over the surface and not cover it with earth. It is enough to put a sheet of paper on top, which is periodically moistened so that the seeds do not crowd, but lie evenly. At this stage, the plant needs heat of at least + 19C. Watering should be done from a spray gun, the soil should not dry out. You will have to wait up to 2 weeks for seedlings.
As soon as the first pair of true leaves blooms, it is necessary to make a pick. The time for the second picking will come in 2 months, this time it should take place with pinching, and the transplant should be carried out in a container with a diameter of about 10 cm (several pieces). No more than three pairs of leaves should be left on each seedling to stimulate the awakening of new shoots. The final transplant to a permanent place is made when the plants are finally strong. The first flowering can be expected after 8-10 months.
The cuttings are cut immediately after the end of flowering, but they are best taken in February-March or at the end of summer, in August. Cutting and planting is carried out according to the traditional scheme. Using a bio-root stimulant powder will speed up the process. Rooting time is about 2 months.
To get lush flowering, Calceolaria is planted with several seedlings in one pot.
For the beauty and splendor of the flower, Calceolaria is recommended to be molded. This is done before the buds begin to form, by pinching the tops of the shoots. The lateral branches growing from the deciduous sinuses are subject to removal. The second method of molding is pinching the lateral shoots not to the very sinus, but with the preservation of a pair of leaves. This method will produce more buds, but they will be smaller. It is recommended to mold the plant every year or at least once every 2 years, since buds do not form on old shoots and flowering can become extremely scarce.