Gloxinia derives from the flowering plant family Gesneriaceae and is a genus of three species of tropical rhizomatous herbs. These particular species are usually found in the Andes of South America, with exception to Gloxinia perennis, which is found in both the West Indies and Central America, likely because it has escaped from cultivation.
Up until recently, the gloxinia flowering houseplant (also known as Sinningia speciosa) was considered to be a perennial; this is down to the fact the shrubs would flower and then die back. After a period of dormancy, however, the plant would rise again, showcasing a fresh flush of oversized, velvety flowers.
Today’s gloxinias are hybrids cultivated to produce a large number of flowers in a speedy fashion. These plants produce an impressive display of blooms for around two months, but once these blooms fade, the plant seldom grows back. This is because it invests all of its energy into its flowers rather than ensuring sturdy roots.
This is one of the reasons these plants are grown as annuals. If you wish to maintain gloxinia flowers once they have been discarded post the first bloom cycle, focus on keeping the plant looking healthy while it is in bloom.
Caring for the gloxinia plant
Gloxinia flower care is not too much of a chore. For best results, place these blooms in a well-lit area, out of direct sunlight. A good option is a sunny window, but far enough back not to be in direct sunlight.
Growing gloxinia houseplants
These shrubs thrive in average room temperatures of between 16-24°C. It’s important to water gloxinias often enough to ensure the soil is kept moist. However, avoid watering the leaves directly as they will develop brown spots if they get wet. For best results, apply the water directly to the soil below the leaves. If allowed to dry out completely, gloxinias will go dormant. To keep your plant healthy, apply a high-phosphorus liquid plant food to the shrub every two weeks. When growing gloxinia houseplants as annuals, you’ll be happy to know they don’t require repotting. However, you may wish to plant your gloxinia houseplant in a decorative container or see that some of the soil needs replacing, if this is the case, use an African violet potting soil.
How to grow gloxinia from seeds
If you’re unable to reach your local garden center or find that the ones on display are a little too pricey, you may wish to try your hand at growing them from seeds. When doing this, it’s important to remember the roots are tender and this can make the plant quite difficult to transplant. For best results, begin sowing the seeds in a pot or container measuring between four and six inches and move to a larger container when it is young, this will avoid having to move the plant again and will allow it to grow to its full size.
A step-by-step guide to growing gloxinia
- Fill the pot or container with African violet potting soil to about 1 1/2 inches from the top
- Sift an additional 1/2 an inch of soil into the top of the pot using a screen – this will prevent the tender roots from rising through the soil when the seeds germinate
- Moisten the soil and press the seeds gradually into the surface. It’s important not to bury them as seeds need light to germinate
- Place the pot in a plastic bag and seal the top of the bag, this will help to keep the soil moist and the air humid
- The seeds will normally germinate three or four days post-planting them, when this happens, open the top of the bag. After a week has passed, remove it completely
- Finally, mist the soil when the surface feels dry to the touch.
Pruning and caring for gloxinia
These plants are relatively low maintenance, but if you wish to keep them in tiptop condition, remove any wilted flowers on a regular basis as this will also spur on the appearance of new buds.
Watering indoor gloxinia
- Although Gloxinia reacts well to regular watering, it’s important not to give it too much
- For best results, mist the leaves enough to refashion the plants’ native environment and correct moisture level
- At the end of the flowering season (which falls in October), it’s a good idea to slowly reduce watering and halt it completely when the leaves have died
- It’s at this point that you should allow the plant to hibernate, you can do this by placing it in a cooler, darker room at a temperature of between 10°C and 15°C
- When February/March arrive, begin watering the plant again and place in a more luminous, warmer room that boasts a temperature of between 18°C and 22°C
- In early May, weather dependant, you can even take the plant outdoors, just be sure to avoid standing it in direct sunlight, but still, maintain the proper level of light.
Gloxinia requires fertilizer during the entire vegetation phase, which starts in March and ends in September. If you do this, you will ensure your plant brandishes beautiful flowers throughout the entire period. With this in mind, it’s important to provide a quality liquid flower plant fertilizer pretty much every two weeks. If you wish to, you can create your own liquid flower plant fertilizer extremely easily by fermenting weeds. Slowly stop adding the fertilizer in early September, and stop it completely in October.
Gloxinia post flowering
Once the flowers have died off, it’s imperative you water the plant less, at least until the leaves have also withered and died. When no leaves remain, transfer your gloxinia to a dry, shaded, cool location. The preferred temperature for the rest phase is between 13°C and 15°C. When winter is almost over, repot the tuber in fresh soil mix and start to water on a regular basis again.
When you notice the first buds beginning to show, water plentifully. Your gloxinia is now ready for a new cycle of flowering!