Many people believe that Florist Gloxinia (Sinningia speciosa) are gift plants that should be tossed after blooming. Did you know that gloxinia can be grown as house plants? True! Gloxinia are fabulous gift plants AND can be spectacular house plants if you give them proper care.
Gloxinia plants can grow quite large – a mature plant can have up to two dozen or more very large blooms (3″ or larger) open at one time creating a fantastic display. Gloxinia can be grown in natural light or on lighted plant stands, and come in a wide variety of colors and flower shapes: single or double flowers with plain or ruffled petals, solid colors, edged flowers, bicolors. (See gloxinia photos)
Gloxinia can be easily grown from seed which is often easier for beginners than mastering the art of propagation by tuber or leaf.
Gloxinia Temperature and Humidity
Gloxinia prefer higher humidity than African violets or Streptocarpus, and many growers find that they must supplement the humidity in their grow rooms with pebble trays or a humidifier in order to grow Gloxinia successfully year-round.
Gloxinia Light Requirements
Gloxinia require very bright, indirect light in order to bloom and do not like intense, direct sunlight. On plant stands I use two fluorescent tubes and place plants 10 to 12 inches from the lights for 14 – 16 hrs. per day. Growing under lights keeps plants from getting “scraggly” or leggy from uneven light conditions and ensures that they receive enough light to bloom freely.
A good rule of thumb is to feed your Gloxinia a weak (1/4 strength) balanced fertilizer solution each time you water. Adjustments may be made depending upon your water composition and growing medium. Stop feeding when you reduce watering in preparation for dormancy (see below).
Tuber Rest Period
The biggest difference between growing Gloxinia and growing African violets or Streptocarpus is that Gloxinia require a period of dormancy or “winter rest” in order to bloom again. Your plant will start to wind down, usually around October or November (in the Northern Hemisphere), with blooms fading more quickly and fewer or no new buds being formed. When that happens, your plant is telling you it’s time to rest. Reduce watering to about half the usual amount and remove dead flower stems.
After three or four weeks at reduced watering gently dig up the tuber, remove any remaining leaves, trim away any dead or rotted roots, and rinse well under tepid water. Place the tuber in a small plastic container or Ziplock® baggie with about a cup of moistened perlite or vermiculite and store in a cool, dark place. The ideal rest temperature would be around 50-55F degrees – the refrigerator is much too cold! Try a protected area like an insulated attic, cool basement, or protected garage. (A maximum/minimum thermometer is ideal for checking conditions over a 24-hr. period.)
Check your tuber for new growth every 30 to 40 days. When new sprouts appear (usually within 90 days or so) it’s time to repot the tuber in fresh medium and enjoy the blooming cycle again.