Tips for Growing Columneas
Question: My Columnea are never as beautiful as yours. My conditions are good, but they always look weedy and don’t bloom very heavily. What am I doing differently?
Answer: Like violets and most other plants, Columnea nearly always bloom from the newest growth. This means that the more new, healthy growth there is, the more potential there is for blooming. Assuming that there is sufficient light and the culture is otherwise good, proper pruning is important in maximizing both foliage and blossom production. Treat columnea and other branching or vining gesneriads like Nematanthusand Aeschynanthus like you would a hedge. Why do you regularly trim a hedge? If you don’t, it just grows tall and spindly, and never has that dense, thick, lush look. Trimming it occasionally forces it to branch and produce new growth, filling in those empty spaces and giving it a full look.
Doing the same to your columnea has the same effect. Let each branch produce one or two new pairs of leaves, then cut the tips. This cut branch will then produce two (or more) branches which can, themselves, be cut when they’ve produced enough new growth. If done regularly, what began as relatively few cuttings in a pot can be made into a very full-looking plant with lots of new growth being produced. Once you achieve the “full” look that you desire, stop pruning and let the plant grow. Disciplining the plant’s growth early will reward you later.