Painted Tongue – Salpiglossis sinuata

This is a flowering plant well worth growing for its dual-coloured flowers that grow on long, slender stems. Salpiglossis is a family of slightly sticky and hairy plants native to Chile. They can either be annuals, biennials or perennials and are suitable for growing outdoors in summer, but give them a bright position sheltered from wind, as wind can easily damage the plant’s rather slender growth. A sunroom or conservatory is an ideal spot for growing plants for both summer and winter flowering.

Slender and branching, Salpiglossis sinuata can grow to 60-90cm (2-3ft). The leaves are larger at the base of the plant than the top and are toothed with wavy margins. The 5cm (2in) flowers are trumpet-shaped and may be crimson, red, blue, yellow or cream, often with colourful veins.


There are several dwarf hybrids that grow to between 30-60cm (1-2ft). ‘Bolero’ has large flowers and comes in a wide range of colours; ‘Kew Blue’ is a new strain with rich blue flowers and gold veins 30cm (12in) high.Painted Tongue - Salpiglossis sinuata

With its rich, two-toned blooms, Painted Tongue is a . firm favourite for summer or : winter flowering.

Growing from seed

For late summer and autumn flowering sow seeds in spring. Sow in early autumn for winter and spring flowering.

1 Fill a tray or an 8cm (3in) pot with moist seed compost and firm down. Sprinkle the seeds evenly over the surface and cover with a very fine layer of the compost. Put in a propagator or cover with a polythene bag. Place in shade and in normal room temperatures.

2 When new growth appears remove the bag or cover and put in a lighter position. Water sparingly.

3 When the first true leaves appear, the seedlings should be pricked out into trays about 2.5-4cm (1— 1½in) apart. Handle by holding the seed leaves, not the stem. Plant seedlings in small holes, then firm the compost around them. Water with a fine rose.

4 When the young plants are well established, repot in 13— 15cm (5-6in) pots.

Pests And Diseases

Stem base becomes discoloured and rots. This is toot rot, which can be a problem with Painted Tongue.

Treatment: Always use sterile compk^st when growing these plant., and Water plants grown in Seed boxes with Cheshunt compound when placing in planting holes. If trouble occurs water weekly with Cheshunt compound but destroy any badly affected plants.


This plant needs a little care. Bright light and some warmth are needed for flowering. A conservatory or sunroom is ideal, but Painted Tongue can also be grown outdoors in a sheltered, sunny spot.

Potting: Use a soil-based potting compost with added coarse sand. Seeds can be sown in spring or autumn to produce summer or winter flowers.

Water moderately, allowing the surface of the potting mixture to dry out before rewatering.

Feeding: Feed every two weeks with a standard liquid fertilizer to promote flowering.


  • Light: Painted Tongue will flourish in bright light.
  • Temperature: Normal summer temperatures are fine. When plants are grown for flowering in the conservatory in winter, do not let the temperature fall below 100-15°C (50°-60°F).

Buying Tips

  • Bedding plants may be available in spring and summer from local garden centres and nurseries. Seeds are available around the year.
  • Choose plants with healthy foliage and take home with care, as this plant is easily damaged. Seeds should be packaged for the current season.
  • This plant is a half-hardy annual. Grow from seed each year.

The large, trumpet-shaped flowers of Painted Tongue are Lattractively veined in contrast to the background colour. Seeds can be sown to provide flowers in summer or winter.

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