This little white fringed flower is so endearing and it belongs to the Alsobia dianthiflora or lace flower. Let’s talk about this easy-to-grow flowering houseplant and how to care for it.
I think mine above is the cultivar Alsobia dianthiflora ‘Cygnet’, a cross between A. dianthiflora and A. punctata. Another cultivar you may find is ‘San Miguel’, which has more prominent purple spots. Alsobia used to be in the genus Episcia, but was changed to Alsobia and the species name dianthiflora means “resembles dianthus”, which is you have grown dianthus, you know they also have fringed flowers, like mine below.
Gesneriad family member
The alsobia plant is a cousin to the African violet and it is apparent when you see its fuzzy, scalloped leaves. Though the leaves are similar, the long stolons it sends out, are not.
The long runners or stolons the plant sends out are one of the means it uses to reproduce itself. Of course, as a flowering plant, it also produces seeds. The thin, pink to burgundy runners creep along the ground attaching themselves with small plantlets, becoming a ground cover in their natural habitat of Mexico, Central, and parts of northern South America.
Alsobias are easy to care for and will flower reliably when cared for correctly. This care includes not allowing them to dry out completely, good porous potting medium, and the right light. This plant could be cultivated with your other gesneriads, such as African violets, episcias, and columneas, whether you are growing them in your windows or under lights.
This one is growing under LED lights that are on for approximately 8 hours per day. Because the stolons hang down quite far, I didn’t know the plant was flowering until I moved it to water another plant. The stolons that were closer to the light have flowers and I should have been turning the plant so it received consistent light all the way around. Aren’t the flowers cute? I grow it on a small stand so the stolons can hang down. This would make a perfect hanging basket plant, which is often how it is found to purchase. I found this small potted one at Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor, Michigan in their gift shop. I’m always looking for the unusual plant to purchase.
This plant has dried out and it has been forgiving, but I have had to remove some yellow leaves. There are always consequences to inconsistent care. The leaves are quite plump, like the African violet, so they store a bit of water. It is better to keep it evenly moist, but not standing in water either. As with any blooming plant, that is more important when it is flowering so the flowers last longer.
I haven’t found that this plant needs extra humidity, but mine is growing on a plant stand with many other plants, so the humidity is naturally higher. You could certainly place it on a pebble tray if you find it needs extra humidity. How would you know? The leaf or flower edges might become a bit brown.
This gesneriad is easy to propagate and there are a couple of ways. The stolons with the small plantlets can be placed in a pot of moist potting soil next to the parent plant, leaving it attached to the mother plant. When the small plantlet sends out roots and begins to grow, it can then be cut from the mother plant. This allows the small plant to receive its energy from the larger plant until it has its own roots to take up water and nutrients. Or the small plants can be cut away from the parent plant, placed on a pot of moist potting medium, and covered with a plastic bag or cloche. The humidity will be kept up with the covering so giving it a better chance of rooting.
I hope you find one of these adorable plants for yourself. They are easy to grow and the small flowers are so lovely, especially if you like purple polka dots!
Have a great week, plant friends!