June 27, 2011

Gesneriads in San Francisco

by Kenneth Moore

Although I have recently moved to Saudi Arabia for a new job, I had previously committed to helping out at an event in San Francisco with my boyfriend. While on this working vacation in early June, the plant display racks outside of a hardware store drew me in like the proverbial moth to a flame. After a few weeks in Saudi Arabia, the diversity of plant life in northern California was amazing to me—I was almost salivating everywhere I went, and I had to constantly restrain myself from taking little propagatory bits of plants from people's yards.

The plant display at this hardware store was nothing incredibly special for the area—in fact, I had seen much better displays in the window of a closed nail salon near the hostel, with Echeveria priced at $1 for each huge floret and a giant tub for $10, for example.

But, the only gesneriads I saw (literally, only gesneriads I saw the entire trip, although I made no special point of seeking them out) were at this hardware store: a tortured, tattered pink-ish Episcia and some rough-looking Columnea that were barely in bloom.

Maybe I'm biased toward gesneriads (that's misleading: I am biased), but I hope other hardware stores and plant centers in San Francisco treat these friendly, awesome gesneriads a little better! I imagine that many gesneriads could grow quite well in that area.