2008 Convention Show Photos - Class 82

"Gesneriads Outdoors – Spring, Summer and Fall" exhibited by Paul Susi

Read Information

Previous| Home

In the summer of 2007 I decided to try growing gesneriads in the garden. I knew which plants I would try: Kohlerias and Achimenes. My reason for choosing Kohlerias was based on a previous experience of mine when I grew them outdoors in pots. Most of them loved the heat and bright light, even full sun. I choose Achimenes because I knew that they would flower and add some color to the bed.
I choose a spot that received some morning sun but was shaded for the rest of the day – the north facing wall of the greenhouse. The soil in the bed was not amended, but had proven fine for the bulbs and annuals I had planted there previously. Since I grow in zone 5, I wasn’t able to put the plants out until the end of May. Nonetheless, once in the garden, they thrived. The plants weren’t given any special treatment during their time in the bed and received supplemental water only when there hadn’t been rain for over a week.

As you can see from this close-up, the center plant, Kohleria ‘Dark Velvet,’ did very well, with its dark leaves and compact growth (this hybrid can get leggy when grown under lights). Also in the photo is an Achimenes (from Park’s), which flowered almost continuously all summer long. The Kohleria in flower in the upper left is K. grandiflora, which grew at least 50% taller by the end of the summer.

As the season wore on, and we approached our first frost (which can happen in mid-October), I decided to keep the plants in the bed to see how they would fare. Once the first frost hit, the Kohlerias were not happy at all, as you can see from these photos and the dead and damaged foliage.

However, the Achimenes didn’t fare as badly, with only some damaged foliage as a result of a light frost.

After a few days of this torture treatment, I decided to dig up the plants and harvest the rhizomes. As you can see from this photo, the plants (at least this Kohleria) produced ample, healthy rhizomes.