Streptocarpus Dimetris

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 Post subject: MY RED STREP IS NOT RED
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2015 3:46 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2012 12:09 pm
Posts: 341

Recently one of my friend asked me a very interesting question. He and his friend in Europe are growing the same Streptocarpus hybrid (Pyotr’s one) that supposed to be red. My friend and the guy in Europe use the same fertilizer. My friend’s plant has burgundy color and plant in Europe is red as it supposes to be. Question is, why? When I started to think about it, I understand that there are a lot of factors that can influence the red pigment. Indeed that it is so complex that I decided to break it to simpler task. Let's start with water. .


The water quality does pay a very import role in the coloration.
The substances that make flower petals colorful are called pigments. The pigments responsible for blue, purple and red colors are anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins interact with many organic and inorganic cell compounds. They can change color depending on this interaction.
First and foremost factor that influence the purity of the red color in particular is the water hardness. Divalent cations like Mg++ and Ca++ are responsible for the hardness of your water. If the grower uses hard water, most likely the red anthocyanins will look more burgundy or even violet. On the other hand, monovalent cations like potassium and ammonium change the color of anthocyanins to the true red. If you add potassium to your hard water it may shift the color back to red. However, too much salt might be not tolerable to Streptocarpus.

Second factor that influences the anthocyanins color is pH. pH is the measure of alkalinity or acidity of the solution. The more acidic solution the better the red color. If we isolate anthocyanins from plant cells they can even be used as pH indicator. In alkaline solutions pigments turn purple and even blue.
When we add our water to the plant the pH of the solution inside the soil will be completely different because soil and fertilizer can dramatically change the pH of your original water. If you add hard water to the good buffered soil and right fertilizer you still might have burgundy color instead of read. If you add soft, distilled or reverse osmosis water to the right soil and good fertilizer you will not have problems. Final soil pH for the true red color should be around 6. When pH is 7 or 8 we see burgundy and other variation.

Another factor that can influence pigment color are toxins that can be found in water. It is better if you use clean water.

We strongly recommend you use Reverse osmosis (RO) water, which removes divalent cations. If you have alkaline water (bad for your red-colored Streptocarpus) RO process will make it slightly acidic. If you already have acidic water RO will not make it harmfully acidic to your plants. RO water also remove all toxins.
Distilled water also can be used to, but since distil water does not have any salt in it, it is possible that in some occasions your plant would have an osmotic shock.

Dr. Makarova (Francheska)

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