Hemiboea subacaulis var. jiangxiensis ‘Jiangxi Bells’ is looking great in the garden over the last month. This gem is an amazing new, hardy gesneriad from a joint collection by Scott McMahon (Atlanta Botanic Garden), and Mark Weathington (JCRA). Discovered in Jinggangshan, China, this seems to be a new species to cultivation. The 1′ wide, fuzzy-leaf rosettes, spread via stolons to form a lovely deciduous groundcover. Starting for us in mid-September, the rosettes are each topped with a cluster of tubular pink flowers. Light shade, and slightly moist soil make the best show. Fingers crossed, this should show up in the next Plant Delights catalog. Hardiness is Zone 7b-10.
To most folks, especially car collectors and gearheads, Hemi’s refer to hemispherical combustion engines, but to those of us hortheads, Hemi’s refer to a group of gesneriads (African violet relatives) in the genus Hemiboea. We started growing the fall-flowering hemiboeas in the early 1990s, thanks to Atlanta gardeners, Ozzie Johnson and Don Jacobs, both of which were horticulturally way ahead of their time.
Our hemiboea collections are now up to six species that have survived in or climate, including two new gems that are flowering now. Hemiboea subacaulis var. jiangxiensis came from a joint JC Raulston Arboretum/Atlanta Botanical Garden Chinese expedition.
Hemiboea strigosa is a gem we picked up on a UK nursery trip in 2020 that’s also performed very well here at JLBG. All hemiboeas prefer light shade and average to moist soils. Winter hardiness is still to be determines, although some members of the genus have thrived as far north as Zone 6.