Plant Common Name
This genus comprises approximately 38 species which are found naturally in open, woodland areas of tropical Central America, South America and the West Indies. These tender, evergreen perennials are grown for their showy foliage and small, tubular flowers borne close to the stems. Nautilocalyx is part of the botanical family Gesneriaceae, which also includes the popular houseplants, African violets.
The bold, usually glossy, lance-shaped leaves of these plants are borne in opposite pairs on fleshy stems. Often patterned and colorful, they feature prominent veining and are sometimes heavily puckered or covered with small hairs. Tubular, five-lobed flowers appear either singly or in small clusters at the axils (where the bases of the leaves meet the stems). They may be yellow, white, red, pink or lavender, and are sometimes surrounded by attractive calyces (sepals which surround the base of the flowers), which remain on the plants after the flowers have faded.
Often grown as houseplants, these tropical beauties prefer bright, filtered light and warm, humid conditions. In containers, grow them in light, fertile, well-drained soilless potting mix. Keep soil evenly moist during the growing season and water somewhat less frequently in winter. Where hardy, they may be incorporated in mixed plantings among shrubs, trees, and other plants which share their cultural preferences.