This striking plant is related to the Saintpaulia and is one of several hybrid cultivars developed over the last few years. Aeschynanthus ‘Mona’ is – together with the very similar, but larger-flowered, Aeschynanthus ‘Mona Lisa’ – a solid-looking plant with a bushy form and much shorter trailing stems than many of the species. Aeschynanthus ‘Mona’ has good dark green foliage against which the clumps of deep red blooms are well displayed; the flowers appear from mid Summer through to Autumn. Healthy, well-grown plants look good all year through, and this Aeschynanthus is a good basket plant. These Gesneriads need warmth and humidity to grow well.
The tropical temperatures required for optimum growth mean that this plant will need a 20°C (68°F) Winter minimum; for the rest of the year, aim for 24°C (75°F) and above.
These plants will benefit from good, bright, but indirect, light: for flower production, this is essential.
During the growing period, themust be kept moist at all times: water freely with lime-free water, but avoid soggy compost. During the semi-dormant phase in Winter, keep the compost barely moist; take care not to let the compost dry out completely, as it will be very difficult to re-moisten.
To make the flowers last as long as possible, it is important to provide high humidity. Use lime-free water and mist the foliage regularly during hot periods.
For good flowers, feed with a high-potash feed at every other watering. Repot crowded plants using a free-draining, peat-based compost: a blend of 50/50 sphagnum peat and coarse horticultural sand is also suitable. For hanging baskets, replace the sand with perlite to reduce weight.
Plants in hanging baskets need careful checking for – their water requirements: a combination of warmth and sunshine, together with a peat-based compost, can be difficult to manage. If compost does dry out, soak the plants in deep water until the surface of the compost is wet, then drain.
Mealy Bugs can lurk in crevices: eradicate with methylated spirit and a cotton bud.
Aphids also cause problems; control these with a suitable insecticide.
Tarsonemid Mite causes shrivelling of new buds: infected plants should be burnt.
Botrytis results from poor ventilation and high humidity; avoid over-watering and ventilate the plant well.
Retarded growth may occur if water or compost contain lime.