Episcia is an attractive trailing plant which has never enjoyed the popularity of its well-known relative, the African Violet. Because it requires high air humidity it is often difficult to grow as an isolated specimen plant or in a hanging basket, but it makes an excellent ground cover between taller plants where it can benefit from the increased humidity in the enclosed environment.
Episcia is grown for its attractive foliage and pretty, if rather small, flowers. There are two types of this plant – the Flame Violet (Episcia cupreata) and the delicate Lace Flower. The Flame Violet has the more eye-catching leaves – large and quilted with silvery or pale green veins.
The trailing stems grow about 1½ ft long – with the Lace Flower the small leaves are borne in groups along thread-like runners. Both bloom throughout the summer and the runners root in surrounding compost, forming plantlets for propagation. Shorten stems after flowering.
The Flame Violet bears tubular orange-red flowers which are yellow-eyed and about ¾ in. across. It has produced many hybrids and sports – Amazon, Metallica, Acajou, Cleopatra and Harlequin are examples.
Episcia dianthiflora produces larger flowers, white and deeply fringed. Other species are hard to find. Episcia reptans is rather like some of the E. cupreata varieties, bearing silver-veined leaves and bright red flowers. On the other hand, E. lilacina is easy to recognize – the flowers have lilac lobes and a yellow throat.
Episcia cupreata “Acajou”
Secrets of success
Temperature: Average warmth – minimum 55°F in winter.
Light: Bright light, away from direct sunlight in summer.
Water: Keep compost moist at all times during the growing season. Reduce watering in winter.
Air humidity: Mist leaves frequently. Surround pot with damp peat.
Repotting: Repot in spring every year.
Propagation: Layer runners in spring or summer.