Experience the thrill of growing Gloxinias
Gloxinias from seed:
Have you ever tried growing gloxinias from seed? It's a fascinating adventure and only takes six months from the time of sowing the seed to the first blossom.
A mixed packet of seed will give you many thrills, because each plant will produce different colored flowers, ranging from white through pastel shades of pink and blue to deep red and purple. You can even grow doubles from seed, and some of the single flowers will be interestingly fluted and mottled as though sprinkled with pepper.
To plant the seed, select a low clay flower pot, plast a flat stone or piece of broken pot over the drainage hole, add an inch or two of gravel or pebbles, and then fill the pot to within an inch of the rim with quality organic soil. Tap the seed from a sheet of paper onto the surface of the sowing medium, but do not bury it. Moisten the soil by setting the pot in a pan of water until it soaks up enough to wet the surface. Let excess water drain off before setting the pot in a clean, dry saucer.
Cover the pot with a pane of glass or plastic and move to a warm, light place. The seed will germinate in six to 10 days. Give the seedlings strong light when they have four leaves, transplant to individual 2 inch pots, and later to 4 inch pots.
By the time they bloom, the plants will have formed small tubers underground. These can be rested a month or two and grown again, just like mature corns.
You can start new plants of your favorite gloxinia from leaf or stem cuttings. Each cutting will produce a plant identical to the parent, while seed from the parent would produce any number of different plants, all varying from the parent and each other.
For a leaf cutting, cut a leaf close to the main stem and insert it in moist sand, or merely set it in a glass of water with its stem submerged half way. Keep the hairy leaf above the water level.
There may be no sign of growth above the medium for some time, but if you grow the leaf in water you will see roots forming and eventually a small tuber will develop at the end of the stem. Finally, the mature leaf will turn brown and the new tuber can be planted in soil. From this point on it can be treated like a mature tuber.
Side shoots that develop next to the main stem of gloxinias can be cut off and rooted in the same way. They will begin to produce flowers in about four months.
Take cuttings from healthy plants only, discarding poorly developed or diseased leaves or side shoots. A poor cutting will not make a healthy plant.
Cuttings root faster under flourescent light than in daylight, often sending up a new plant within six weeks. The original leaf, stem cutting or side shoot can often be cut away from the new plant and used over again to start additional plants.
Gloxinias from tubers:
Tubers can be planted at any time of year and will bloom in four or five months. To start them into growth, place the tubers in moist soil, hollow side up, and keep them in 70 to 80 degree temperature until sprouts begin to grow. If tubers produce more than one sprout, pinch off all but the strongest one and root the pruned ones in water like cuttings to start new plants.
Once the tubers begin to produce roots, they can be potted up with one tuber to a 4 or 5 inch pot, using a rich, porous organic soil. A potting soil mix works great if you don't feel like making your own.
Make sure the pot to be used for planting is thoroughly cleaned, so that you avoid any potential for disease.
Cover the drainage hole with a piece of broken pot and spread an inch of pebbles on top. Fill the pot three quarters full of soil, then place the tuber gently on top of this and fill more soil around it so that three fourths of the tuber is covered. Do not bury the tuber entirely in the soil, because this invites decay at the crown. Set the potted tuber in a pan of water and let it soak up enough water to wet the topsoil. Then place the container in an east or south window to await the first leaves.
Gloxinias from plants:
Plantlets rooted from various hybrids or started from seed can be planted whenever they are available -- usually from spring to late fall. These are just as easy to grow as tubers and will produce flowers in a few months.
Plants arrive in the mail carefully packed. In unpacking, first carefully remove the plants from their plastic bag, then gently lift the leaves and pull any shredded paper from around the delicate crown.
If the soil is moist, take the plant from its paper pot and plant. If the soil is dry, water and pot up the next day. Tap the plant from its paper pot and set it complete with its earth ball in a 4 inch pot of soil prepared for planting tubers. As the plants grow larger, transfer them to larger pots. Set the plant below its former level, but be careful not to bury the bottom leaves. When the soil is filled in around the plant, tap the pot sharply on a bench or table top to settle the roots. Us a soft brush to clean the soil from the leaves.
For quick growth, set gloxinias started from seed, cuttings, tubers or plants under flourescent lights, keeping the lights about 12 to 15 inches above the tops of the plants. Lights can be left on for 15 hours every day. Plants do best in a temperature range from 70 to 80 degrees and with a humid atmosphere in a well ventilated place.
You can find more growing tips for gloxinias here.
You can buy gloxinias here.
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