The genus Nematanthus (nem-a-TAN-thus) was named by Henrich Shrader, a German, in 1821. The genus name is derived from the Greek words Nea (thread) and anthus (flower). Hence the name thread flower. The six species originally included in the genus had pouch shaped flowers hanging at the end of a long penduncle (flower stem). All six species are native to Brazil. Since then the genus Hypocyrta has been submerged into the genus. The Hypocyrta have short penduncles and pouch shaped flowers. Flower colors range from yellow to orange to red.
The culture of the Nematanthus is very similar to the Columnea. They do best in a hanging basket or shallow azalea pot. Plant tip cuttings in a soilless mix consisting of two parts Jiffy Mix (one part vermiculite to one part peat moss) to one part perlite. Nematanthus are more sensitive to summer heat than Columneas and other Gesneriads. Let them dry out between watering and give them good ventilation in the summer. High humidity and misting are beneficial. Some growers don’t put perlite in their soilless mix as it absorbs and retains fertilizer slats which can burn the roots. Do not use lime in the soil since they like a slightly acidic mix. The light requirements are similar to the African Violet. So they do well in a light garden or in a window or on the porch in the summer. Conditions will vary for different cultivars and species. Fertilize during active growth. Use a fish emulsion fertilizer or a 1/4 strength fertilizer such as Rapid Gro every time you water.