While there are few books devoted entirely to gesneriads, these popular houseplants are mentioned in a wide variety of sources. Here are some that you may enjoy.
The Gesneriad Society publishes a number of valuable resources on gesneriads.
In addition, there are many Internet mailing lists that may be of interest to gesneriad growers.
Books | Book
Sections | Journals | Miscellaneous
Books entirely about gesneriads:
The Gesneriaceae of South China
Prof. Wei Yigang Chinese & English, 777 pages, text & color photos of gesneriads. US$125, s&h incl: add'l shipping outside continental US http://gesneriaceaeofsouthchina.wordpress.com/ Mail check to: Stephen Maciejewski, 2030 Fitzwater St., Philadelphia, PA 19146, USA Email contact
The Miracle Houseplants:The Gesneriad Family
Virginie F. and George A. Elbert. Crown Publishers 1984.
The subtitle of this book is "African Violets and Other Easy-to-Bloom Plants in the Gesneriad Family". At this time, this is the most up-to-date reference book on gesneriads. It is well worth checking out of one's local library. Unfortunately it is now out of print, but copies are often available at used book stores.
African Violets, Gloxinias, and Their Relatives: a Guide to the Cultivated Gesneriads
Harold E. Moore, Jr., MacMillan Co. 1957.
This is one of the classic, original references on gesneriads. Many things have changed, but if you can find it, the illustrations and information are worth it.
Gloxinias and How to Grow Them
Peggie Schulz. M. Barrows and Company, Inc. 1965.
This is a revision of the 1953 book written by one of the founders of the American Gloxinia and Gesneriad Society. The Gloxinias referred to in the title actually are Sinningias now. The book also has a chapter on "other gesneriads."
Streptocarpus, an African Plant Study
O. M. Hilliard and B. L. Burtt. University of Natal Press So. Africa 1971.
This book contains the "full story" on Streptocarpus up to the time of its writing.
How to Select and Grow African Violets and Other Gesneriads
Theodore James, Jr., HP Books 1983.
African Violet and Gesneriad Questions, answered by twenty experts
Helen Van Pelt Wilson. Van Nostrand 1966.
Keys to the Gesneriaceae of China
Translated by Wang Wen-Tsai. Edinburgh Journal of Botany. 1992.
A technical identification guide for the gesneriads of China.
Gesneriads and How to Grow Them
Edited by Peggie Schulz, Diversity Books, Inc. Grandview, Missouri, 1967.
Chapters written by 28 gesneriad authorities including Elvin McDonald, Lyndon Lyon, Frances Batcheller, and other gesneriad experts. Includes numerous black & white photos and illustrations.
Handbook on African-Violets and Their Relatives
Brooklyn Botanic Garden Handbook Series, First Printing May 1967.
(There are at least 5 printings since then.) Articles by gesneriad authorities including Peggie Schulz, B.L.Burtt, Robert E. Lee, etc.
African Violets and Related Plants, A Wisley Handbook
The Royal Horticultural Society, Cassell Educational Limited, London, Bill Wall 1990. 64 pages with many color pictures.
Streptocarpus, A Wisley Handbook
The Royal Horticultural Society, Cassell Educational Limited, London, Rex and Gareth Dibley 1995.
64 pages with many color pictures.
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Books with sections or information on gesneriads:
Plants That Really Bloom Indoors
George and Virginie Elbert, Simon and Schuster, New York 1974.
Large section on Gesneriads, pp 108-137. Some color photos and black and white line drawings.
Tovah Martin. MacMillan-USA 1994.
This book is divided into directional exposures of windowsills. Gesneriads are discussed in the "Eastern Exposure" section. Tovah Martin is staff horticulturalist at Logee's Greenhouses in Connecticut and is related by marriage to the Logee Family.
The New Houseplant: Bringing the Garden Indoors
Elvin McDonald. MacMillan Publishing 1993.
Elvin McDonald is one of the founders of the The Gesneriad Society. The gesneriad plant family is mentioned specifically on pages 132-141 and in other locations throughout the book. The background of the cover photograph features an Episcia, one of the more commonly available gesneriads.
Illustrated Encyclopedia of Indoor Plants
Kenneth and Gillian Beckett. Doubleday & Company, Inc. 1976. One can look up the names of some specific gesneriad genera and find out general cultural information and descriptions of a few specific varieties.
The Sunroom Gardener: A practical guide to growing plants in sunrooms, atriums, and conservatories
Anne Swithinbank. A Reader's Digest Book 1993.
If one knows specific gesneriad genera to look up, this book has some good information and beautiful photos. It is divided into sections somewhat based on growing habit, i.e climbing, trailing, smaller plants, etc.
Success with House Plants
Reader's Digest 1993.
A general house plant book with many sections on various gesneriads.
Note: Several of the above books will also give one an idea of what other plants go well with gesneriads. Or to turn it around, if one is already growing the more common and familiar plants mentioned, information can be found on what gesneriads would fit easily into a particular growing situation.
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"GESNERIADS", The Journal for Gesneriad
Growers (formerly THE GLOXINIAN)
Available to members of The Gesneriad Society as part of their membership.
$25.00 per year (US funds).
Peter Shalit, Editor
Selected back issues may be
"Crosswords, The Journal for Gesneriad Hybridizers"
Membership in GHA is $8.00 per year ($9 outside the U.S.) payable in U.S funds. Send to
Martha Lacy, GHA Memberships, 260 Stoddards Wharf Rd, Gales Ferry, Ct. 06335-1130, USA.
"African Violet Magazine, The Journal of the African Violet Society of America"
For information visit the AVSA web
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Carla Petra Pavone, Indoor & Patio Gardening
Volume II, No. 1, January 1996, pages 72-80.
"Gesneriads: choose a flamboyant bloomer for the patio or a mini that will grow in a thimble"
Darrell Trout, American Horticulturalist
Am. Hort. Soc. Feb 1994, Vol 73:2, p 20.
Darrell Trout is a long-time member of The Gesneriad
Society and currently serves on the Board of Directors.
"Hydroculture: a beginner's adventure"
Jim Roberts, House Plant Magazine
Spring 1994, Vol 3:1, p 58.
Jim Roberts is a long-time member of The Gesneriad
Society and has successfully grown a lot of Gesneriads hydroponically.
"Gloxinias: against the snow"
Doris E. Stebbins, Flower & Garden Magazine
Feb-March 1995 v39 n1 p41(4).
Abstract: Gloxinias (actually Sinningias) are Brazilian plants and relatives of the African Violet. They produce flowers in shades of red, purple, blue and rose. The plants are easy to grow indoors, but need bright light in the morning or afternoon, and diffuse light the rest of the time.
"Houseplants From Leaf Cuttings"
Tovah Martin, Horticulture, The Magazine of American Gardening
Jan 1995 v73 n1 p68(2).
Abstract: Houseplants that have root cells in their leaves can form new plants from small pieces clipped from the leaves. Begonias, tolmieas and African Violets can be grown by planting leaf cuttings in coarse sand in a covered plastic box that is accessible to light. New thumbnail size plants are then potted.
"Blooms for Rooms: a sampler of indoor flowering plants"
Thomas Fischer, Horticulture, The Magazine of American Gardening
Jan 1993 v71 n1 p48(4). A few gesneriads are mentioned in this article.
Abstract: Thirteen varieties of flowering indoor plants can provide plenty of color during the periods when outside garden color is dormant. Plant specifications and care instructions are provided.
"The Lipstick Plant: grow this plant for its gracefully pendent stems and beautiful, exotic blooms"
Inger Skaarup, Flower & Garden Magazine
Oct-Nov 1993 v37 n5 p10(3).
Abstract: The lipstick plant, also known as Aeschynanthus, is an ideal basket vine plant due to its long stems that hang gently. This genus has more than 170 species. Because it likes sun and humidity, a bathroom or kitchen is a good place to keep it. Growing tips are provided. Includes list of three species and sources for buying the plant.
"Capture the Beauty of Cape Primrose"
Steve Bender, Southern Living
Jan 1986 v21 p58(2).
Cape Primrose is a common name for the Streptocarpus genus.
"Streptocarpus: an expert's introduction to these colorful houseplants"
Larry Hodgson, Horticulture, The Magazine of American Gardening
Dec 1990 v68 n12 p24(5).
"Grow a Goldfish in a Pot (Hypocyrta glabra)"
Beryl Gould, Flower & Garden Magazine
Oct-Nov 1987 v131 p13(1).
Hypocyrta is an old name for the genus Nematanthus.
"The Smallest: the tiniest flowering house plants"
April 1980 v164 p238(1).
Subjects: Sinningia, African Violets, House Plants
Ruth Katzenberger, Flower & Garden Magazine
Dec-Jan 1987 v32 n1 p54(1).
Peggy Byers, Flower & Garden Magazine
April-May 1988 v32 n3 p46(2).
"The Lipstick Vine; Aeschynanthus"
Greg Sytch, Indoor & Patio Gardening
Summer 1996 v2, No. 4 p.34.
Editors, Indoor & Patio Gardening
Summer 1996 v2, No. 4 p.39.
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Do you know of other gesneriad references? Have you run across references to gesneriads in other magazines? We'd love to hear about them!
Send your ideas to Susan