Botanical Name: Sinningia speciosa hybrids
Origin: Gloxinias have their original habitat in the tropical rainforests of Brazil.
Height: Sinningia speciosa hybrids typically grow to heights of approximately 20 cm (8 in).
Soil: This house plant does well African Violet mix or similar moisture holding potting mixes.
Light: While this plant requires plenty of bright light, it should never be positioned in direct sunlight.
Humidity: The Gloxinia requires moderate levels of humidity, which can be achieved with the help of a wet pebble tray. These plants should not be misted, as misting could result in permanent damage to leaves and flowers.
Temperatures: Keeping room temperatures at around 16 to 24 degrees C (60 to 75 degrees F) will enure Sinningia speciosa plants are happy.
Water: Potting mixes should be kept evenly moist, although it is important to provide good drainage, as soggy soil will result in rotting roots.
Fertiliser: During the Gloxinia's growing and blooming seasons, it should be fed fortnightly with a diluted (half/ half) liquid high-phosphorus fertiliser.
Propagation: These house plants can be propagated from leaf cuttings, seeds or via tuber division.
Description and Care Tips
Originally grown from dormant tubers, many of the Gloxinia hybrids bred today will grow from seeds. While these hybrids do produce better blooms - essentially because their energy is not devoted to root-systems - they do tend to not grow back well after periods of dormancy, meaning they are, like many other unfortunate annuals, thrown out after just one blooming season.
In any case, this showy house plant features a lovely rosette of hairy, fairly large oval leaves, the edges of which are scalloped. Rising above this rosette on slender stems are the large velvety, bell-shaped and ruffled flowers.
A real joy to behold, these showy blooms come in an array of colours - from white or pink through red or burgundy to purple and violet. Some of these gorgeous flowers may feature spotted, contrasting throat colours, while other may feature white edging.
Each individual flower will last for around a week, and a succession of flowers ensures a magnificent display for several weeks. Removing spent flowers immediately will not only encourage more blooms, it will also help to prevent pests and diseases.
Once all flowers have gone, the Gloxinia should be watered only lightly until the foliage dies down naturally. If the plant was grown from a tuber, the potting mix can then be allowed to dry out to prepare the tuber for over-wintering (once the mix is dry, the tuber can remain in the pot for the winter). During this period, temperatures should be kept at around 10 degrees C (50 degrees F).
In spring, the over-wintered tuber should be potted on fresh potting mix (on the surface; hollow side up). The mix should then be moistened every couple of weeks until fresh growth appears. At this point, the new plant needs to be placed into bright light (but not direct sunlight) and watered, as well as fertilised, regularly.
Dropping buds, by the way, may indicate one or both of two things: 1) the plant is exposed to drafts (meaning it should be moved into a more suitable, draft free position), or 2) humidity levels are not high enough. If the latter is the case, humidity around the tropical Gloxinia - which is used to average humidity levels of around 70 per cent - needs to be raised. Find out how.