Gloxinias (Sinningia speciosa) look somewhat like African violets (Saintpaulia ionantha), with their soft, fuzzy leaves. The two plants are closely related. Both make delightful houseplants and add color to the home during the dark days of winter, but can also grow outdoors. While gloxinias grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 12, African violet grow in USDA zones 11 through 12. Gloxinias produce tubular blooms in a range of colors, from pure white to deep velvety purples, with several varieties sporting blooms with white edging. These plants prefer bright, indirect light and bloom for a month or two before going dormant. Although they are relatively easy to care for, gloxinias have specific watering needs.
1 Fill a saucer or shallow bowl with lukewarm water. Gloxinias cannot tolerate cold water.
2 Place the potted gloxinia in the bowl of water to allow it to soak up water. Monitor the soil closely and remove the plant from the bowl of water when the soil in the pot is moist. This may take up to an hour, depending on the size of the pot.
3 Check the soil in your gloxinia's container every few days and water it again when the soil feels dry to the touch. Although gloxinias can be watered by watering the soil from the top, the crown is sensitive to root rot, making bottom watering a better choice.
4 Stop watering your gloxinia when the foliage dies back. This is normal and indicates your gloxinia is going into its dormant stage. Allow the soil to dry and keep the bulb in the same pot for the next six to eight weeks, at 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
5 Repot the gloxinia bulb in fresh soil. Resume watering and move your gloxinia to bright, indirect light. New growth will soon appear.
Items you will need
- Saucer or shallow bowl
- Fertilize a gloxinia with a water-soluble formula designed for flowering houseplants on a 14-day cycle. Mix the solution at a rate of1/2 teaspoon per 1 gallon of water, or according to package instructions. You can also mix the solution to one-fourth strength and use it every time you water your gloxinia.
- Avoid getting water on the leaves as it will leave rings.
- Do not place a gloxinia in direct afternoon sun as it may damage the leaves.
- University of Illinois Extension: Growing Gloxinias
- North Dakota State University Extension: Questions on Gloxinias
- Auburn University: African Violets
- Scotts Miracle-Gro: Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food
- The Garden Helper: How to Grow and Care for Your Gloxinia Plants
- The Garden Helper: How to Grow and Care for African Violets
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images