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Calceolaria tenella



25th June 2016


I have a prejudice against Calceolaria that comes from deep in my childhood, when the tiny seedlings I was growing refused to prosper. One after another they succumbed to mildew. Every morning there would be one more slimy patch at the centre of a pot where I had a seedling the day before. It was disheartening and I have not forgotten it.
Time moves on, and eventually I will as well. Up to now I have only considered the 'odd' Calceolaria for the garden, staying well clear of the short lived, free seeding species.
I must have been feeling quite strong when I bought Calceolaria tenrella. I have grown it before. I remember a 7cm half pot with a rather bright and fresh brown colour that served as both home and coffin to the last example. However, I have a new alpine house, and a new plan and perhaps they have filled me with recklessness. Who knows what will happen, I am sure it would be happier if I kept it in brighter light but it isn't dead yet.
It is a small mat-forming species from Chile and Argentina. in habitat it grows in well drained soils along streambanks. I have one in a conventional compost, and a division growing in a hydroponic system which may or may not suit its needs.