888 Sanchezia speciosaCommon Names: sanchezia Family: Acanthaceae (acanthus Family)
Sanchezia is a 6-8 ft (1.3-2.4 m) semiwoody evergreen shrub with smooth bright green or purple stems, large variegated leaves and colorful flowers. The leaves are up to a foot in length, opposite on the stems and marked with prominent, well defined yellow or ivory veins. The tubular flowers are yellow with red bracts, about 2 in (5 cm) long and borne in terminal spikes of 6-10. In tropical climates, sanchezia blooms throughout most of the year.
Sanchezia speciosa is native to northeastern Peru and Ecuador where it grows in the humid understory of tropical rainforests.
CultureLight: Light, dappled shade. Sanchezia does not tolerate full sunlight at midday, but it needs bright indirect light to develop its best variegated foliage. Moisture: Sanchezia needs a lot of water. Keep the soil moderately moist and use soft water, preferably rainwater. Reduce water in winter. In the house or greenhouse, sanchezia needs a humid atmosphere of at least 60% humidity. Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 - 11. Sanchezia is an evergreen perennial in zones 10 and 11, and a returning perennial in 9B. Plants will die to the ground following a freeze. Although they may not bloom, expect them to come back in spring. This tropical does best when temperatures never fall below about 60°F (15.6°C), even in the non-growing season. Propagation: Sanchezia tip cuttings are easy to root under glass with bottom heat.
In tropical climates, sanchezia is cultivated in shrub borders and hedges for its foliage and flowers. In zone 9 it is an attractive foliage plant. Sanchezia is also grown as a houseplant for its beautiful foliage, but requires a high humidity. If you want to grow it as a houseplant, stand the pot on a bed of pebbles in a tray of water and mist the leaves frequently.
Whether for its foliage or its flowers, sanchezia is beautiful perennial for the greenhouse or tropical landscape.
Steve Christman 12/14/00; updated 3/18/10