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How to Grow and Care for a Gloxinia

 

If you are looking for a colorful plant to add to your indoor plant collection then the gloxinia is for you.  But before we move on how to grow and care for this plant, let’s talk about the types.  There is a hardy gloxinia and a florist gloxinia.  While both can be grown indoors, the hardy gloxinia is a clump forming perennial that survives in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 6 through 10.  Its leaves are a dark green that are deeply divided to the point that they look like ferns.  The flowers are trumpet shaped and are colored purple, pink or white with yellow throats.  Believe it or not, this plant is commonly called a hardy gloxinia but is not even in the same family as a true gloxinia.

The true or florist gloxinia belongs to the same family as the African violet.  This herbaceous perennial is more often than not grown for spring and summer enjoyment but with a little work can bloom any time of the year.  The leaves have a velvety texture with a dark green color.  The flowers are bell shaped and can be up to 3 inches in diameter.  Each flower is perched on a long petiole or stem.  While the flower color can be somewhat limiting, the varieties are not.  Gloxinia flowers can be found in white, pink, red, blue, and purple.  Where the variety comes into play is with the two-toned types, which includes flowers with white edges or white throats along with wavy or smooth flower edges.

When it comes to gloxinia care, one must select the location perfectly.  If this is not done, the plant will not bloom and/or the blooms will drop.  What is the perfect location for a gloxinia?  Well, it is a room that has a nighttime temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit and a daytime temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit.  As far as light goes, you will need bright but indirect sunlight.  The best solution to this requirement is to set your gloxinia near a brightly lit window but not on the windowsill.  Doing this will allow your gloxinia to receive the light requirement indirectly.

As far as watering goes, it is very important not to get the leaves wet.  Allowing water to hit the leaves will cause spotting and death of the leaf.  How do you water the gloxinia without getting the leaves wet?  Well, the answer is simple and starts off with getting a saucer.  If you gloxinia came with a pot cover, remove the cover and place the planted gloxinia on a deep saucer.  Next, pour water into the saucer.  Monitor the water and add additional water if you find the top of the soil is still dry. 

When it comes to watering, you should never let your plant’s soil completely dry out.  Prior to watering, always check the soil moisture with your finger.  This is a simple step and only requires you to stick your finger into the soil to the level of your knuckle.  Once that is done, pull your finger straight out.  If your finger is covered in damp soil then do not water.  On the other hand, if it comes out clean you need to water.

Gloxinias should be fed with a balanced fertilizer such as a 15-15-15 every time they are watered.

To keep the flowers looking their best, always remove spent flowers throughout the plants growing season.  As the growing season continues, you will notice that your plant stops producing blooms.  This is a sign that your plant is going into dormancy.  When you begin to notice that no more flowers are being produced, gradually reduce your watering to the point that the plant receives no water.  Allow the foliage to dieback.  Let the plant set for 2 to 4 months but keep an eye on it.  The plant will tell you when it is ready to come out of dormancy by a flush of new growth.  Once you see new leaves appear, begin watering again. 

When it comes to propagating a gloxinia, you have three choices.  They can be propagated by seed, tuber, leaf or stem cuttings.  Since seed propagation produce more compact plants, this technique will be covered.

To begin the process of propagating a gloxinia from seed starts off with the container.  You will need a wide but shallow pot.  But before you put soil in it, you will need to sterilize the container.  The sterilization process is simple and begins with filling a basin with water and a capful of bleach.  Once that is done, place your container in the water and allow to soak for 5 to 10 minutes.  Next, scrub the pot with a brush to remove any debris and then rinse in clear water.  Sit the pot out to dry.  While you may be tempted to skip this step, do not.  This should be done for new or old containers.  This simple step will reduce the chance of your seedlings developing a disease or pest problem.

Once the container has dried, the next step is to add the soil but do not just add any soil.  The best planting medium to use is one that is sterile.  Since the gloxinia seed is very small, it is a good idea to moisten the soil before planting the seed.  This will prevent the seed from being moved through the soil with the water and in doing so being buried.  To do this, just add water until the soil is evenly moist.

After the soil has been moistened, the next step is to plant the seed.  There is no easy way of doing this since the seed is so small.  In just, this best process is to sprinkle the seed on the soil’s surface.  Do not cover with soil.

Gloxinia seeds need light to germinate.  To meet this requirement, either put your container on a windowsill or under grow lights.  In a week to two weeks, you will begin to see little green dots.  These are the gloxinia seedlings.  Keep them in this container until they have produce their second set of true leaves. 

Once the second set of true leaves have appeared you are ready to move them to a four pack.  Make sure to clean and sterilize the four pack before planting.

Transplanting a gloxinia seedling is a little different than other plants.  To protect the roots, you will need to stick a knife or plant label under the plant and lift up.  The more soil you take with the seedling, the better.  Once you have your seedling lifted, create a small hole in one of the cells of the four pack that has been filled with an all purpose potting soil.  Gently place the lifted seedling in the hole and secure the soil around the roots.  Repeat with all the seedlings with two sets of true leaves.  Since gloxinias are known to be slow germinators, you will need to repeat this process a few times to get all your seedlings. 

In 4 to 6 weeks, you will need to repeat the process and plant your gloxinia in its final pot, which is a four inch square container. 

Throughout the seedling’s life, do not forget to water from the bottom and place in indirect sunlight.

 

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