The Q&A Archives: Gloxinia

Question: In the store the other day I saw a flowering plant that had a tag on it naming it "gloxinia." It was flowering profusely, and came in many colors. I was wondering if this was a perenial, annual, how easy is it to grow from seed vs. a starter plant, growing conditions, etc. Also, do you sell the seeds. If you need more of a description of the plant, please let me know.

Answer: Hardy Gloxinia is Incarvillea delavayi, and can be grown outdoors in zones 6-10 in full sun or light shade. (The more tender Gloxinia is traditionally grown indoors as a houseplant.) Incarvillea delavayi requires humus rich, well draining soil. Keep the soil moist during the growing season, and remove faded blooms to encourage additional flowers. The only absolute requirement of Hardy Gloxinia is excellent soil drainage during the winter months. The plants will grow 1 1/2 - 2 feet tall and about 12 inches wide.

Tender gloxinia (which is probably what you found in the store) is grown as a houseplant. Give these plants average household warmth (minimum 60F degrees), bright light (or shade if you put them outdoors in the summertime), keep the potting soil moist at all times, use tepid rather than cold tap water, and try to keep water off the leaves. Gloxinia's thrive in a moist environment so put the pot on a tray of pebbles and keep water in the tray - or mist the leaves occasionally- to provide the humidity it likes. Reduce watering when the plant has finished flowering, and stop feeding. Allow to dry out when the leaves turn yellow - then store the plant in the pot over the winter. Repot tuber in fresh potting soil in the spring, or repot while it's dormant (Jan - Feb.). Keep warm and dry until leaves appear, then provide the proper temperature, light and watering conditions.

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