Did you know that the first gloxinias brought from South America in the 18th century were rhizomatous, while the tuberous species were only introduced from the same places in the last century? And that it was the tuberous gloxinia that became the basis for the development of many beautiful varieties of this indoor crop?
What’s more interesting: in botanical reference books, gloxinia is listed as the beautiful gloxinia, although gloxinia and gloxinia are two different, although related crops: gloxinia is a rhizomatous plant, while gloxinia beautiful is a tuberous one.
From this article you can learn how to care for gloxinia during the growing season, how to stimulate its flowering and then how to organize a dormancy period for the plant.
Planting and caring for gloxinia
- Flowering: from March to the end of summer.
- Lighting: bright diffused light with a 12-14 hour light day.
- Temperature: During vegetation normal for living areas, during dormancy about 10˚C.
- Watering: During vegetation – regular, but moderate, method of lower watering, from August the plant is preparing for the dormant period, and watering should become less frequent.
- Air humidity: elevated, but spraying of the leaves is categorically not recommended, it’s better to keep around the plant containers of water.
- Fertilizing: During active vegetation once every 10 days with a solution of full mineral fertilizer for flowering indoor plants.
- Pruning: in May or June, after the first flowering, and in the autumn before the resting period.
- Dormancy period: from the end of October to the end of February.
- Repotting: at the end of the dormancy period.
- Propagation: by seeds, leaf cuttings.
- Pests: thrips, cyclamen and spider mites.
- Diseases: grey rot, viral infections.
The gloxinia plant (lat. Gloxinia), named after the Alsatian physician and botanist Benjamin Peter Gloxin, forms a genus in the family Gesneriae. Gloxinia flowers are perennial tropical herbs and semi-shrubs. The gloxinia is native to Central and South America, where it grows in the deciduous forests of Brazil and Peru, in the cliffs of Mexico, in the Andes or on the banks of rivers. Another name for the gloxinia, Sinningia, was given to it after William Sinning, a Boston University gardener who devoted himself to breeding and hybridizing gloxinia. Through his efforts, the hybrid or house gloxinia (Sinningia), represented by many varieties and hybrids, appeared in floriculture.
Botanical description, species
Indoor gloxinia is a tuberous perennial with a short stem and juicy velvety leaves of a rich green color. The same velvety bell-shaped flowers, simple or tumbled, pink, red, white, purple, speckled, frilly or bicolored, reach 5 cm in length and 7 cm in diameter. Numerous gloxinia seeds are very small. Of the 25 species that exist in nature, only gloxinia royal and gloxinia beautiful have been the basis for selection work.
A flower with thickened stems up to 10 cm tall. The dark green, pubescent leaves with silvery streaks on the top and reddish streaks on the underside are broadly oval, arranged in opposite rows of 4-6, and are about 15 to 20 cm long. The flower stems are long, bell-shaped, dipped, dark purple flowers are 5 cm long and 7 cm in diameter.
A herbaceous plant with broadly oval, evenly green leaves narrowed to the base on long stalks. Flowers in a variety of shapes, depending on the cultivar, including the macerated gloxinia, white, red, purple, blue, pink, purple, there are forms with a white rim around the edge.
Like any plant, gloxinia has some peculiarities:
- After flowering, the above-ground part of the flower dies off, and it is important to wait for this process to spontaneously end;
- before the dormancy period, the gloxinia requires fertilization with nitrogen-free fertilizers – potassium monophosphate, for example;
- A gloxinia pot requires a decent size, for an adult plant – at least 15 cm in diameter;
- If you want your gloxinias to bloom all year round, arrange them on a shelf or a warm shelf with extra light for 14 hours a day.
Home care for gloxinia
If you decide to grow gloxinia, provide it with a spacious place with bright diffused light: it needs a light day of twelve to fourteen hours, so during the long nights be prepared to arrange additional illumination for the plant. There’s a simple way to find out if the flower has enough light: if the dark green leaves are horizontal and the stem is short you don’t have to worry, but if the leaves and stem are stretching upwards it means the plant lacks light.
But remember: the care of gloxinia involves, first of all, protection from direct sunlight, which is destructive for the plant.
And one more important point: no draughts! If you decide to keep the flower on the windowsill, you will have to forget about frequent airing. And the humidity of the air, which needs gloxinia, will have to increase artificially, placing around the flower containers of water, because the plant does not like to get moisture on the leaves and flowers, which, when spraying can not be avoided.
As for temperature, during the growing season the gloxinia will do at room temperature usual for this time of year, but during the resting period it needs a cooler environment of about 10 ºC. Observe the plant and it will tell you which changes it needs: Overheating makes the gloxinia leaves stretch upwards and if the leaves are below the edge of the pot then it is freezing.
Water the gloxinia during the growing season in the tray or top watering, taking care not to get the leaves or flowers wet. Between waterings, the top layer of substrate should dry out. In late August, the intervals between waterings are increased so that the plant gradually enters a dormant period until late October. Both overwatering and underwatering should be avoided. Water the gloxinia with distilled or filtered water a degree or two warmer than room temperature.
Feed the gloxinia in the period of active growth once a decade with a complete complex fertilizer for ornamental flowering plants. In the middle of August, fertilization stops. If you neglect making fertilizers, there can be problems with both growth and flowering: growth slows down, the buds become shallower, the color of the flowers fades, which affects the decorativeness of the plant, the flowering period becomes much shorter.
Sometimes the plant suffers from a lack of boron. This becomes noticeable in the summertime when the light day is at its maximum: deep nicks appear on the edge of the leaf plate. In this case, you need to carry out foliar feeding of gloxinia with a two percent solution of borax. And let me remind you that an excess of fertilizer is much more dangerous for the plant than its shortage, so try to observe moderation in this matter.
Every year at the end of the resting period, transplant the gloxinia into a new pot. The same soil mixture is used as for begonias and violets. It can be purchased in the store, or you can compose yourself from two parts of the leaf, one part of the humus soil and one part of the sand.
So, in February the tubers of gloxinias removed from the pot with a lump of earth and poured into a new pot, slightly larger than the previous one, which pre-lay a layer of drainage, and on top of it – a layer of soil. Then gradually add the substrate and tamp it down. As a result, the tuber should be buried in the substrate only halfway. The same principle is used for the initial planting of gloxinia.
Gloxinia has bloomed – what to do?
When the gloxinia has flowered (usually this happens in May-June), cut the stem and almost all the leaves, leaving only 2-4 lower leaves on the plant, in the axils of which will soon appear the steps, of which you will leave a couple of the strongest, and remove the rest. At this time it is advisable to fertilize the flower with fertilizers for growth, and a month later, when the buds appear, you need to introduce fertilizers for flowering.
The second flowering will probably not be as lush as the first, but this is normal. Sometimes, however, the gloxinia blooms all summer, and the question of a second bloom falls away. When the gloxinia blooms finally, you need to gradually reduce watering and stop feeding, wait until the leaves turn yellow and dry, then cut the haunches, leaving a stump of 1-2 cm above the tuber.
Gloxinia in winter
There are two answers to the question “how to store gloxinia after flowering”:
- Gloxinia cut in winter will be stored in a dark, cool place until the end of February. Gloxinia is moistened in winter only 1-2 times a month, so that the tubers do not dry out. Gloxinia wintering can take place under a bathtub or in an insulated loggia;
- The second way of preserving the gloxinia during the dormancy period involves removing the tuber from the pot, and since in late January or early February you will have to transplant the gloxinia into a new pot with new substrate anyway, so why not take the tuber out of the pot in the fall? The removed tuber is cleaned of residual soil, placed in a polyethylene bag with a lock, add vermiculite and substrate to the bag in a 1:1 ratio, fasten the lock and place the bag for winter storage in the vegetable department of the refrigerator. Now you do not have to worry about the fact that the tuber in three or four months of dormancy can dry out without watering.
Worry about how to keep a young gloxinia grown from seed in winter, you will not have to: it is left in a pot and moderately watered, so that the small, still weak tuber did not die over the winter.
Propagation of gloxinia at home
Growing from seed
The rich assortment of gloxinia seeds in specialized stores inspires optimism to those who want to try themselves as a breeder. But don’t expect too much from this experiment. Growing gloxinia from seed begins with the purchase of seed – thank God, today it is not a problem – and it is better to buy pelleted seeds. The packaging usually indicates a germination period of 4-6 months, and even 9-10, but this is if you will sow in winter or autumn. If you do it in March, the process will go much faster.
You can use for sowing a purchased greenhouse, and you can make a greenhouse of your own: in a plastic deep container with a lid, freely and soak the peat tablets, on which and spread the pellets, not embedding them into the soil. Make a few holes in the lid for ventilation. Put the greenhouse with the seeds in a bright, warm place with a temperature of about 22-23ºC and for a week and a half to two weeks, gently moisten the soil as needed and wait for the seedlings to appear. When the seedlings have germinated and are hardy, place them in disposable cups along with the peat pots, and after a while in permanent pots.
Propagation by leaf
Whatever they say, but vegetative propagation is usually more reliable than seed propagation and if you have no particular reason to grow plants from seed, go with the vegetative method and we will tell you how to grow gloxinia from leaf cuttings. Because gloxinia leaves are quite large, either take the smallest leaf or split a large leaf into pieces. The leaf plate should be cut crosswise, parallel to the transverse veins, the leaf petiole should also be cut, leaving no more than 2 cm. Use a sharp tool to cut, otherwise the edges of the leaf or its fragments may rot later.
Plant the fragments in pots with light, slightly moist substrate and put them in a greenhouse or cover them with a plastic bag – within a month you will not have to water the soil or air the greenhouse, and after a month the rooted fragments should be gradually accustomed to life outside the greenhouse, opening briefly the polyethylene. Keep the greenhouse with rooting parts of gloxinia should be in a well-lit warm place.
Pests and diseases
Unfortunately, gloxinia as well as other flowers suffer from diseases, which are usually a consequence of improper care. Affects gloxinia gray rot, manifested by brown spots on the leaves. It must be fought by treating the plant with fungicide, first removing all the damaged places. But most often the plant is affected by root rot: the roots become dark brown, the stem rots at the base and the plant dies. This happens from constant overwatering of the roots or watering the plant with too cold water. In addition to these diseases take care of gloxinia from phytophthora, black leg, powdery mildew and fungal diseases. For preventive treatment, use phytosporin, for treatment – Fundazole.
Viral diseases also will not avoid gloxinia, especially if thrips, cyclamen or spider mites will get on it, so try to avoid this.
Cyclamen mites can only be seen under a microscope, with the naked eye you can detect only a large cluster of mites, looking like a layer of dust on the underside of the leaf plate, but if the plant leaves began to deform and thicken, and at the edges to wrap down, if the twisted stem, wither buds, the flowers deformed petals and shoot tips dry – then the flower occupied by cyclamen mites.
The spider mite is also almost invisible, it also settles on the underside of the leaf and feeds on the cell sap of the plant. You can tell that you are dealing with a spider mite by the white dots that later turn into yellow-brown spots, or by the thin web if the infestation is already in a very strong stage.
The presence of thrips is indicated by light dots, dashes, and spots on the leaves and by the silvery sheen of undamaged areas of the leaves, which eventually dry out, turn brown on the underside, and the edges begin to curl upward. Thrips larvae go into the soil, so to control the pest, you will have to change the top layer of substrate, and better still replace it with a new one, but before that, conduct a triple treatment of the plant with insecticides (actara, carbophos, fytoverm, actellic) at intervals of a week. The same measures are effective in the fight against mites, but you do not have to change the soil.
- Read about the subject on Wikipedia
- Features and other plants of the Gesneria family
- All Species List at The Plant List
- More information at World Flora Online