Gloxinia Growing For Beginners

Like the Achimenes, this is another greenhouse plant to suffer from lack of popularity in recent years, until it is now generally believed to be a plant quite beyond the scope of the modern gardener. Nothing could be further from the truth but for an early summer display, it is necessary to start the tubers in heat in the very early spring, March if possible, and at that period the heated greenhouse is generally being used for more important crops. If the plants are to be had in bloom through late summer, then they may be started in a cold-house in late April, but in a cold-house even at that time, growth will be slow.

The Gloxinia enjoys a temperature of around 70 F. Even when the greenhouse temperature reached 90 F. in July it is not too high for this plant, provided a high degree of humidity can be obtained. As with the Achimene and Begonia the tubers should be pressed into the compost and should in no way be covered. At first they should be watered only sparingly, more water and a moister atmosphere being given as the plants make foliage. After flowering, the plants are dried off in exactly the same way as for Achimenes.Gloxinia 11

Propagation is by several methods, all equally successful. They are:

(a) By division of the tubers as for Begonias.

(b) By sowing seed in a compost made up of equal parts of peat, sand and fibrous turf loam. The tiny seeds are just pressed into the compost and not covered. A seed pan is the most suitable utensil, and after sowing the seed should be watered, covered with a sheet of glass and stood in a temperature of 70° F. In an unheated house sowing should take place in June or July.

(c) By cuttings removed when 2-3 in. long and placed in 24 in. pots containing a mixture of peat and sand and placed in a temperature of about 70 F.

(d) By leaf cuttings. The leaves are carefully removed and the veins are cut with a sharp knife before placing them flat, underside down, on to a compost similar to that used for seed sowing.

Again, a temperature of around 70° F. is required for rooting to take place quickly.

With their compact habit, vivid colouring and freedom of flowering the following are excellent varieties:

  • Bacchus. Rich wine red.
  • Duke of York. Vivid scarlet, edged white.
  • King of the Reds. Rich crimson-red self.
  • Princess Elizabeth. Lovely clear blue, with a white throat. Purity. Glistening pure white.
  • The Duchess. Deep purple, edged white.

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