Gesneriad References

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 groups, blogs and mailing lists that may be of interest to gesneriad growers.

Here are some valuable lists of interest to all gesneriad growers:

Books | Book Sections | Journals | Miscellaneous Articles

Books entirely about gesneriads

The Gesneriaceae of South China

Prof. Wei Yigang Chinese & English, 777 pages, text & color photos of gesneriads. US$125, shipping and handling included (additional shipping outside continental US) 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.

[ back to top ]

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.

Well-Clad Windowsill

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.

[ back to top ]


African Violet Magazine, The Journal of the African Violet Society of America”

For information visit the AVSA web site.

[ back to top ]

Periodicals/Magazine articles


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.

“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 grown many 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 genus Streptocarpus.

“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”

Sunset Magazine
April 1980 v164 p238(1).
Subjects: Sinningia, African Violets, House Plants

“Try Codonanthe”

Ruth Katzenberger, Flower & Garden Magazine
Dec-Jan 1987 v32 n1 p54(1).

“Achimenes Accumulate”

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.

[ back to top ]

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 Julie Mavity-Hudson

Membership Links

Not a Member?

Membership in The Gesneriad Society has numerous benefits, chief among them being the quarterly journal, Gesneriads. Read more about the benefits of being a member.


Take advantage of all the members area has to offer. You can:

  • Order seeds from the Seed Fund
  • Get information packets for chapter shows
  • Download the Flower Show Manual at no charge…

Login to the members area