Sinningia speciosa, commonly known as Gloxinia, is a species of flowering plant that is beloved by gardeners worldwide and that makes a great addition to any garden. This beautiful flower, a member of the Gesneriaceae family, is native to Brazil. However, this ornamental plant can adapt to a wide range of environments, so it is widely cultivated in both indoor and outdoor settings.
Growing and caring for a Gloxinia is easier than you might think! For example, if you are familiar with African violets, you will see that these two species have a lot of things in common. Besides their similar stunning appearance, Gloxinia borrows many environmental requirements from African violet.
If you are new to the gardening world and you do not have an African violet in your collection, keep reading our guide to find out how easy creating the perfect environment for Gloxinias is! If you want to become an expert in growing and caring for gloxinia plants, keep reading!
- Gloxinia belongs to the Sinningia genus that contains about 65 species of flowering plants. Still, Sinningia is a genus that does not parade only with its small number of species. It also consists of numerous hybrids.
- Sinningia speciosa delights us with many hybrids to choose from for our plant families. Some of the most attractive cultivars are ‘Ami Thibault’, ‘Kaiser Friedrich’, ‘Mighty Mouse’, ‘Ozark Sentimental Journey’, ‘Pirate’s Petite Angel’, ‘Regina’, and ‘Tigrina Blue’.
- We did not tell you about these cultivars without a proper reason. Nowadays, most Gloxinia plants that growers have in their collections are hybrids, so you will have to look for these if you have fallen in love with Gloxinia’s blooms.
- The best way to keep your Gloxinia with you for as long as possible is to propagate it. Luckily, there are several methods you can pick, such as division, leaf cuttings, or seed. We recommend you use only the first two methods since growing Gloxinias from seed can take a long time.
- Although Gloxinia does not have many implications in medicine, it still plays it significant part. Some people use an infusion of this plant as a treatment against boils. This isn’t something that you should try at home, but it does indicate that the plant is not toxic.
- Gloxinia is completely safe to grow around curious children or pets. Even if your kids or furry friends get into contact with this plant, they will not experience any digestive problems or skin issues.
- You can grow your Gloxinia near other interesting species of plants with similar growing and environmental requirements. These include African violet, Alocasia, Calathea, Ferns, Marigolds, Peace Lily, Shasta Daisies, Dahlias, Crocosmia, Gladiolus, or Philodendron.
Gloxinia Features: An Overview
- This article focuses on the growth requirements of Sinnigia speciosa, which is commonly referred to as Gloxinia. However, a more appropriate name for this plant is ‘Florist’s Gloxinia’, as it is actually a mutation of the true Gloxinia plant. True gloxinias don’t present tubers whereas florist’s gloxinias (Sinningia speciosa) do.
- As mentioned above, Sinnigia speciosa gloxinias are members of the Gesneriaceae family, and they share this family with African violets.
- Gloxinia is a tuberous herbaceous perennial plant that can reach from 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm) in both height and width.
- For the relatively small size of this plant, the foliage of Gloxinia has pretty large leaves. The leaves are very showy, ovate to obovate, featuring a soft, velvety texture and toothed margins.
- Gloxinia blooms throughout the summer months and with proper care, they can bloom for several weeks. In general, this plant dies back once its flowering period has come to an end. But! After a period of dormancy, Gloxinia may regrow and start its blooming cycle again.
- Due to the fact that they die back once their blooming season ends, most people discard their gloxinia flowers. But you don’t have to do this as these versatile plants can be tricked into blooming again. All you have to do to enjoy their beautiful blooms once more is to let your gloxinias rest. The first thing you need to do is to cut back on watering gradually. When the foliage starts to die back, trim it and move the plant to a cool, dark location where temperatures are between 12°C and 16°C (55-60°F). The dormant tuber needs to rest for 2-3 months after which it will start to show new growth. Once you notice new growth, you should transplant the tuber into fresh potting soil and move the plant back to a brightly lit location and resume the standard maintenance process with regular watering, feeding, etc.
- The flowers of Gloxinia are the main attraction. They are small, delicate, tubular or bell-shaped, and can appear in different shades of white, pink, purple, red, blue, and eye-catching mixes of these colours.
As mentioned above, you should not think that your Gloxinia has died forever once its blooming season has ended. This is the normal cycle of a tuberous plant and you will also notice a loss in foliage during its dormant period. But this is completely normal! You can either accept the unique nature of your Gloxinia and wait for it to come back to you or you can treat it as an annual and bring another specimen around. Now let’s talk business!
When it comes to lighting, Gloxinia does not appreciate any direct sunlight exposure. The best growing locations for this plant are those where it can receive only lots of bright and indirect light all year round. If you are growing your Gloxinia indoors, place it near a well-lit window but make sure it has curtain sheers in front of it to create that indirect lighting condition for your beloved plant.
In terms of temperatures, Gloxinia is cold-hardy only in the USDA zones 11 to 12. As a rule, the perfect temperatures for this flower usually range from 70 to 78 °F (21-26 °C). The plant will not tolerate dry heat very well because it is somewhat an admirer of humidity. You should keep your Gloxinia in a relatively humid area. Also, do not mist its leaves as this will easily result in fungal diseases with time.
You will encounter serious issues regarding fungal diseases if you provide your Gloxinia with too much moisture in general. Likewise, poor air circulation is an enemy of this beauty that you should take into consideration while growing it. On the other hand, a plant that experiences very dry conditions for prolonged periods will not hesitate to show its discontent through rolled-up leaves. Find the ideal balance for your Gloxinia and everything will be just fine!
If you manage to find a Gloxinia in a nursery or market, it will most likely be planted in a plastic pot. In case you want to keep it in an indoor setting, you will not necessarily have to repot it in a new container. But if you want it in your garden, make sure you plant it in spring once the last danger of frost has passed. When planting it, try to give it a space of about 12 inches (20 cm) from the other plants you have in your garden to avoid overcrowding and poor airflow.
Now we need to talk about the best growing medium for Gloxinia. Generally, this plant grows at its best in slightly acidic substrates that have a soil pH between 5.5 and 6.5. When it comes to soil type, a loose potting soil that comes along with excellent drainage is the perfect option. You can look for a commercial mix designed for Gardenias or African violets. You can’t go wrong with that one!
- Sow Gloxinia seeds to produce a beautiful mixture of red, blue, and white blooms. These compact Gloxinia plants blossom four to six months after sowing. They will flower for about 2 months, go dormant for about 2 months, and then begin growing again and start flowering.
- Grows as a perennial in USDA zones 5 - 8 only reaching a height of 10 inches.
- Gloxinias make a great house plant, giving wonderful, colorful blooms! Sinningia Speciosa is often referred to as Florist's Gloxinia or Brazilian Gloxinia.
- Florist's Gloxinia care includes avoiding watering the crown of the plant as this might cause the plant to rot, and use water that is at room temperature for watering. The Brazilian Gloxinia plant needs lots of light, but no direct light. Gloxinias do best in temperatures around 65 - 75F degrees, especially when they are blooming. After blooming, keep watering to a minimum and don't fertilize.
- Gloxina seeds are a bit tricky to germinate and do best indoors and under lights. Do not cover the flower seeds after sowing since they need light to germinate. Sinningia Speciosa seeds should germinate in about 3 weeks at 70 - 75F degrees. Soil should be kept uniformly moist, but do not keep it saturated. Seeding Rate: 4 seeds per plant
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- Planting seeds: Prepare a shallow container for seedlings, which is filled with a layer of light substrate with a loose structure of peat and sand in equal parts. Seeds are distributed on the ground surface, then moistened with a spray.
- The container with crops is covered with glass and installed in a well-lit place with a temperature between 22-23°C.
- When the shoots appear, the glass is removed. After forming 2 pairs of real leaves, the seedlings are piqued into separate disposable cups, from which, after a while, the seedlings are planted in individual pots.
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Gloxinia will require fertilizing during its active growing period, from spring until autumn. Feed your flower with a controlled-release or liquid fertilizer according to package instructions. We recommend reducing or even stopping feeding your Gloxinia during its dormancy to protect its overall health.
It is important to mention that pruning is also a mandatory process in Gloxinia’s caring routine. To keep your plant in great shape, it is best to pinch off the unhealthy or dead leaves of your Gloxinia. You can also remove all spent flowers and expect new ones to emerge in those two months of blooming this plant has.
Gloxinia is the type of houseplant that needs repotting once in a while to remain in its best shape. However, you should repot your plant only when the last year’s growing season has ended, typically in late winter. Transplant your Gloxinia tuber in a pot that is slightly larger than the current one and resume its watering routine.
The watering demands of Gloxinia are pretty easy to handle. This delicate plant will thrive if you water it often enough so its soil remains constantly and evenly moist. To keep your gloxinia healthy and happy and to avoid overwatering and underwatering, make sure you check its growing medium in-between waterings. When the first half of soil feels dry to the touch, you can spoil your baby plant with another drink. It is very important to avoid getting the leaves of your plant wet during the watering process because water drops may cause brown spots.
Some gardeners prefer to bottom-water their gloxinias to avoid damaging the sensitive foliage. Bottom watering has some benefits such as providing an even distribution of moisture through the soil, reducing the chances of underwatering and overwatering, and preventing leaf spots.
You can try this watering technique as it is very easy. All you have to do is to fill a bowl or a tray with water, place the gloxinia container in the bowl, and allow the plant to soak up all the water it needs. Don’t leave the plant sitting in water for too long though, 10 to 20 minutes is more than enough. Next, place the container in the sink or in an empty tray and let the excess water drain for another 10 to 15 minutes.
Although it might seem obvious, it is important to mention that you can only bottom water plants in containers that have drainage holes.
Propagating Gloxinia is an easy and rewarding process! Since this plant tends to go dormant after its blooming period, it might not come back as you would expect it to do. Because of this, propagation is a nice solution to the problem, allowing you to keep your plant (or a part of it) alive for more than one year. And you can do this in various simple ways.
When your Gloxinia grows actively, you can propagate it through leaf cuttings. All you have to do is take cuttings of healthy leaves and sprout them in damp seed-starting soil or just damp sand. We suggest you take more leaf cuttings to increase your chances of success, as not all leaves will produce a root system in this process. When the cuttings seem to have some tiny roots, you can transplant them in their permanent location. If you want to grow some of them outdoors, wait for the spring to show its warmth first.
You can also propagate your Gloxinia via division. The tubers of this plant are pretty large, so you will have plenty of propagation material to use in this method. Since you need to repot your Gloxinia yearly, this is a great chance to also divide its tuber to obtain more plants. Divide the tuber into two or three sections and replant each one in its individual container. Water the divided parts whenever the soil feels dry to the touch. If you want to transplant them into the garden, you will have to wait until spring.
You can also grow gloxinia plants from seeds and, if you are a patient gardener who doesn’t mind waiting, this is a great propagation method to try out. When starting gloxinias from seeds, keep in mind that young plants have very tender roots and stems, so it’s best to start your plants in a larger container, to avoid transplanting them too soon.
Start with a 10-15 cm container (4-6 inches) and fill it with African violet potting soil or other similar types of soil. Moisten the soil and plant the seeds by pressing them gently onto the surface of the soil. Gloxinia seeds need light to germinate, so you should never bury them in soil. Cover the container with food wrap to keep the soil moist. In three or four days, you should start seeing the first signs of germination. When you notice new growth, remove the plastic wrap and mist the soil whenever it feels dry to the touch.
Gloxinia Pests and Diseases
If you don’t have a lot of experience growing and caring for gloxinia plants, you might wonder why your plant grows slow and doesn’t produce any flowers. For starters, gloxinia plants can be quite sensitive to the surrounding environment and when their needs are not met, they are known to become capricious. A few common reasons behind the lack of blooming and slow growth are waterlogged soil, cold temperatures, unsuccessful wintering, cold drafts, and nutrient-poor soil. If you checked all the boxes, and you are providing your gloxinia with the perfect growing conditions, you might have to check your plant for pests and diseases.
Leaf curling is also a common issue found in gloxinia plants that usually occurs do to cold air and drafts, dry indoor air, sudden changes in temperature, waterlogged soil, insufficient light, or pests and diseases.
With its easy-going nature and superb flower colour palette, Gloxinia is surely a plant that deserves a spot in any home or garden. You can easily find gloxinias on the market and they will feature attractive blooms, so they will make perfect gifts for your loved ones, as well as perfect additions to any plant collection.
Gloxinias are sometimes considered delicate and capricious plants, but as long as you provide your gloxinia plants with lots of indirect sunlight, water, and suitable temperatures and soils, your green companions will reward you with attractive foliage and beautiful blooms. You can even trick them into reblooming, so there is no need to throw them away once they enter their dormancy period, as they will surely produce more beautiful blooms next season.
Are you growing gloxinia plants? Share your experience in the comments section!