(Species: Sinningia (= Gloxinia) speciosa - Family: Gesneriaceae)
Gloxinia and its origins
Originating in South and Central America, Gloxinia is most commonly associated with Brazil but also has links to Burma. A common house plant, it was first introduced to Europe in 1817, where it was actively cultivated.
Sinningia Speciosa was introduced into cultivation as Gloxinia Speciosa, today it continues to be known under the general term “Gloxinia”.
Velvety in texture, this tuberous species of Gloxinia has bright, vibrant flowers and is sometimes described as flashy thanks to the vivid hues of its petals.
This variety of Gloxinia is sensitive to both temperature fluctuations and humidity levels, and as a result, is more often grown as a house plant. Other species in the genus can be hardier and as a result grown outdoors in warmer climates.
Seasonality: Gloxinia in flower
Flowering over the summer months and often into the autumn, Gloxinia produces rich, luscious and velvet-like blooms. The flowers are bell-shaped and most species are semi-pendular.
The plant is available in an array of bright and vibrant colours ranging from reds and purples to pinks and blues; petals can also have contrasting trims with white edging on deep purple or violet.
Some species have single or double blooms. Gloxinia can grow up to 15cm and produce a large number of flowers in any one bloom.
How to Plant: Gloxinia
Sinningia Speciosa is very delicate and as a result, difficult to grow. Incredibly sensitive to sunlight and dry air, this Gloxinia requires bright light but cannot be placed in direct sunlight as it will burn. Equally, it likes a humid environment but misting the plant will blotch and disfigure the blooms and leaves.
Gloxinia tubers such as those of the Sinningia Speciosa are planted in early February following a period of dormancy for the tuber in late winter. Some species are rhizomatous; they are planted earlier in the year after blooming period is complete.
Gloxinia enjoys warmth and a constant temperature when they are actively growing. They also thrive in a humid environment, misting is difficult as it causes damage, therefore use a humidifier if necessary.
The soil should be a good quality, well-drained soil. The plant enjoys constant watering but a water logged soil will cause the tuber to rot. Care must also be taken when watering to avoid blighting the leaves and blooms with drops of water; it may be easier to water from the base and remove any excess water. In between watering, let the soil dry, it should feel dry to the touch. Then water heavily, this will help the Gloxinia to thrive.
Propagation of Gloxinia
Propagation is by division of the tuber. This will take place in late winter. The main Gloxinia tuber should be replanted immediately, placing it just below the soil surface and only giving it a light soil covering. The offsets can then be potted and placed under a plant light.