Kohleria eriantha

This is a Colombian relative of the African violet, but it grows happily outdoors in the Sydney climate in a lightly or fully shaded, sheltered spot. It is a shrubby perennial plant from South America, with very tactile, velvety leaves edged and veined beneath with orange, and long hanging trumpet-shaped orange flowers, which appear in late winter and/or early spring. It can grow 50-100 cm tall (although is usually around the 50 cm mark in our climate) and spreads by rhizomes to form a clump. The colour of the flowers has a neon quality which really glows in the shade and it is an apt partner for other blooms in this colour range at this time of year, such as Clivia miniata, Justicia rizzinii and the many brightly coloured Chinese lanterns (Abutilon x hybridum), to form an exotic subtropical look in a lightly shady garden area. Avoid planting in very dense shade as this may cause the plant to become very leggy. The plant seems to be best if it has ample water. The plants can be cut back after flowering. Plantings can be seen in the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney. After a wet summer and autumn, it may reflower in autumn, as it did in 2012. It is frost sensitive, but if grown beneath trees, this may provide protection for it. It can be grown in a hanging basket.

Flowers in August, September, October, November.

 Out now in my Sydney Garden.