Chirita is a plant genus that is part of the Gesneriaceae family. It contains about 140 species of perennial and a few annual herbs that are native to southeast Asia. Some of these plants feature a rosette of leaves with no stems, while other plants have stems but only one or two leaves. They are commonly grown in pots and flower beds. A problem to look out for is damage from broad mites.
The name of this genus is derived from the Hindu word for "Gentian." It was coined by the Scottish botanist David Don. Most of the species are mistakenly referred to as the African violet, since they have several characteristics in common.
Chirita is divided into three groups based on the type of plant structure. The Chirita section consists of perennial plants that have stems and large tube-shaped flowers, while the Microchirita section consists of mostly annual plants with stems and irregularly shaped flowers that emerge from the stalk that attaches the leaf to the stem. The Gibbosaccus section consists of plants without stems and feature a rosette of leaves.
When growing plants from the genus Chirita, it is recommended to use a well-draining potting mix. Adding perlite and lime to the potting mix will improve conditions for the plant. It is recommended to keep watering to a minimum since over watering can cause rot. Adding fertilizer to the water also helps the plant develop.
Flower pots containing Chirita are usually placed on windowsills that have sunlight for a few hours each day. Prolonged exposure may cause the leaves to brown or fade. Fluorescent lights can be used instead of natural light. The flowers tend to grow in the direction of the sunlight.
The best way to propagate these plants is by leaf cuttings. Generally, a leaf from the central portion of the plant is cut in the spring and placed in a plastic bag containing a potting mix. Once it is rooted, it should be planted or potted. This usually takes place in the summer or early fall. By the following spring, new plants have developed and a year later, the first blooms will sprout.
Broad mites damage the leaves of plants in the genus Chirita. They are extremely tiny, translucent insects that cause leaves to curl and become purple or brown. New growths are stunted and the flowers may not bloom. Submerging the plant in hot water is a natural way to remove broad mites.