Though the episcia has the common name of flame violet, it is not a violet. It is a close relative of the African violet in the Gesneriad family.
This gorgeous plant is quite easy to grow so let’s talk about how to care for the episcia or flame violet.
Knowing about the native habitat of our houseplants shows us what conditions they would prefer in our homes. We cannot recreate them exactly but can try to get as close as possible.
This plant hails from the tropical regions of Southern Mexico, Brazil, and the West Indies where it grows under trees in the rainforest as a ground cover. It spreads by stolons sent out from the main plant.
That shows us it doesn’t need full sun to bloom, but bright light. It loves an eastern or western exposure or can be grown under lights.
Episcia Care Under Lights
I will admit that my episcias under lights looked a bit bleached out, so I cut the time my LED lights were on during the day by a couple of hours, and they look much better. Recently, I changed my fluorescent lights to LEDs and am still learning how to grow my plants under them.
Episcia leaves are their best color in bright light, but too much light will bleach the leaves. If that happens, move them to a shadier spot and the new growth should show its true colors.
They did better under fluorescent lights where I could keep them on the edges of the light stand where they received less light. Fluorescent lights give brighter light to your plants in the center area of the bulb, but the bulb ends emit less light and the light fades as time passes. Fluorescent lights are replaced every year or two because the light levels become less intense over time.
Pictured above and below are two of my episcias growing inside enclosed terrariums. The one above is directly planted into the soil of the terrarium, sharing the space with ferns. The stolons have spread out and produced new plantlets which are growing into the media.
Below, the plant is individually potted up and is residing inside a mini conservatory. Its stolons hang over the side of the pot because they have nowhere to root. It does well as a hanging basket and is often found that way to buy.
Episcias are grown for their fabulous foliage and are often called the “peacock plant”. Though they do flower, the foliage speaks for itself. Many have patches of silver, copper, or pink coloring on their leaves.
The foliage has an iridescence that makes them sparkle. I can imagine them in their native habitats with the dappled sunlight makes them glisten on the forest floor as it shines down through the canopy.
Hybrid plants such as ‘Cleopatra’ above and ‘Pink Dreams’ below with their pink foliage prefer to be grown in terrariums. The edges of their leaves will brown if not grown in the high humidity conditions a terrarium offers.
Climate for episcia
Episcias prefer a warm, humid environment and are grown in terrariums for that reason. They will grow in the temperatures we are comfortable in but would rather live in temps. over 65 degrees. (I lower my thermostat at night to 63.)
If temps fall below the mid-50s your plant will react unfavorably and may even die. Keep the humidity up by either using a pebble tray, humidifier, or growing your plant in a terrarium.
These colorful plants are grown primarily for their foliage, but they do send out small flowers in orange, red, pink, white, and even yellow as you can see below.
The flowers are approximately 1/2″ to 3/4″ across and have five petals, and if they are grown with the right light, warmth, and humidity, they could be continually in bloom. As the plants get larger and send out more stolons, there will be more flowers.
Finding episcia plants
You can find them online from other sources, but I’ve purchased plants from both of these companies with good luck and I don’t want to recommend a company I don’t have experience with.
I hope you find an episcia and find growing it as rewarding for you as it is for me. These small, spreading plants have gorgeous foliage and flowers.
Have a great week, plant friends! To learn more about other flowering houseplants, order my book, Bloom.
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