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Sinningia bullata is a tuberous perennial with crinkled, green foliage, thick, white wool on the back of new leaves and the tips of new shoots, and…
Synonyms: Sinningia sp. “Florianopolis”.
Sinningia bullata is a popular and hardy Gesneriad, a Brazilian relative of the African Violet. It grows naturally as a tuber or caudex, often on very steep slopes. It’s grown mostly for its unusual crinkled foliage, which is hairy and alien-like when it first emerges from the tuber. It also produces orange flowers.
Unlike other tuberous Sinningias, this species does not have a dormant period over winter. New leaves and shoots will emerge throughout the year, and apparently can even handle light frost. However, if the leaves look shabby you can snap them off at anytime and they will renew very quickly.
This plant is fairly tough and easy to grow, adapting to a range of growing conditions. For best results, provide a few hours of direct sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon. Too much sun will cause the leaves to burn, whereas too much shade will result in less flowering and leggy growth. This plant suffers few pest and disease issues. Plants are somewhat vulnerable to rotting off at the base, so avoid keeping the plant too soggy, especially of grown in shade. Best grown as a potted specimen for this reason.
Very easy to grow. Needs some direct sun for best results. Unfussy as to soil types but will not tolerate waterlogging.
Sinningia: Big and showy to tiny and adorable
Commonly (and improperly) known as “gloxinia”, these tuberous gesneriads are both easy to grow and easy to flower. The larger, and showier bloomed, S. speciosa hybrids are most familiar, but sizes and colors vary widely–from the very small (less than 1″) to the very large.
All require generally the same care as African violets. To keep them low and compact, provide them a bit more light, though they will bloom and grow with less. If neglected, plants can die back–but once tuber has formed, will soon sprout again. Sinningias will mature, and generally will have produced a tuber once they’ve begun to bloom. Once the plant has formed a tuber it can always resprout, so long as the “eye” of the tuber (much like a potato)
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We’ve been growing and exhibiting since 1975, and have been in business shipping to satisfied customers world-wide since 1985. We hybridize many of our own plants–are famous for our ‘Rob’s’ and ‘Ma’s’ series of African violets, and our ‘Bristol’s’ series of gesneriads (African violet relatives).
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We hybridize and grow all the plants we sell–we don’t buy from other growers and resell. This means we know what each plant likes to grow best from personal experience. We also collect the best and most unusual hybrids from other growers, then propagate them for sale, as well as collect and grow many rare species not previously grown in cultivation. We rarely travel or attend a show and come home empty handed!
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We specialize in African violets and their relatives (gesneriads), and other plants suitable for the indoor home environment. Most are of a manageable size (can be grown on a windowsill or light stand), and many will bloom readily in the home.
We also grow a huge, and diverse, collection of miniature and terrarium plants–e very plant you need for a terrarium, miniature landscape, or fairy garden. Our plants are true miniatures, not just cuttings of a large plant that will quickly outgrow your container. Safe for use in vivariums. Not harmful to frogs and reptiles. We only use organic, nontoxic, products when growing these plants. For an overview of what we grow, view the “what we grow pages”, or better, our online catalog!
How to grow
Though we’d like to sell you plants (or perhaps we have) use this site as a reference–to learn about the plants you grow (or want to), or to learn how to grow them better. Use our “search function” to answer your question–for example, type “repot African violet”, if this is what you need to know. You’ll be directed to relevant information on this topic, or any other. Our “plant care” pages contain much useful information, including “how to” lessons, and a FAQ (frequently asked questions) library.
If you’ve purchased a plant from us, and are having difficulties growing it, or simply need more information on its care, we can always be reached by email or phone during business hours.
Where to find us
Visit us–our shop and glasshouse are open to the public year-round. Hours and directions can be found in the “about” pages. We also attend (and sell at) a number of shows during the year, throughout the United States. Dates of these upcoming events will be listed in the sidebar at right.
Visit our “facebook” and “pinterest” pages (links found at page top). Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, “VioletsFun”. Join a society–we are longtime members for many plant societies and interest groups. There is no better way to learn than to share your experiences with a fellow grower. We offer incentives to join (a free plant with an AVSA membership) and encourage members to participate and exhibit (coupons for show winners).
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Sinningia bullata is a fun and unique looking plant to have at home. It’s relatively easy to grow. The flowers are red/orange tubes, whose faces are dotted with darker red dots. What’s unique about this plant though is the white woolliness that covers the under-leaves, newly formed flower buds and flower stems. It’s interesting to look at and fun to touch. The bubbly green leaves make a nice contrast to the flowers, both color and texture wise. The colors are very bright and it’s difficult to take a picture that does this plant a justice.
Unlike some other tuberous sinningias, Sinningia bullata does not go through period of dormancy, and it flowers year round. How much flowers you get depends on how well your sinningia has grown and how big it is rather than the season. It does tend to grow a bit leggy and you should feel free to cut off the old growth as there is always new growth sprouting from the tuber.
In nature this plant is found on an island near southern Brazil called Florianopopolis. Sinningia bullata likes steep rocky cliffs, shade and moisture. This plant doesn’t seem to be bothered much by lower temperatures. You can still have it flowering in a cooler sunroom during the wintertime, but don’t let if freeze. Sinnigia bullata is a gesneriad, and there are quite a few other sinningias that are everblooming as well.
I maintain the soil moist but never soggy, especially in the summer. Water less in the winter time, unless you are growing your plant in a warm location. It grows great with a hygrolon strip through the soil to maintain the moisture constant, and it seems to be fine with occasional drying out of the soil.
This plant grows in part shade to shade. It seems to flower better when it has couple of hours of direct sunlight, making east and west windows ideal for it. It grows and flowers great on a north facing garden window, where it gets very bright indirect light all day long as well. Sinningia bullata tends to grow a bit leggy, so although you can easily grow it on a north window, I would not recommend it.
It can tolerate lower humidity levels, but the leaves will curl up at the ends, so higher humidity will be better for this plant. I do not spray the leaves because they are hairy, and I don’t want water to stain them. You can use a humidity tray.
Soil Type and Fertilizer:
Sinningia bullata needs well drained medium, so I use quite a bit of per-lite in my soil. Shredded tree fern fiber, and other epiphytic well draining medium would work as well. I use african violet soil with added peat moss and tons of per-lite for my plant and a bit of orchid potting medium, and is seems to work. It’s very important not to bury the tuber under the soil! You should let it protrude on the surface to prevent it from rotting and to allow new shoots to sprout freely.
Before your Sinningia bullata reaches blooming size you can easily propagate it through cuttings. However, once you plant starts blooming that becomes very hard. I am currently trying to “re-set” growth by removing blooming stems. I hope after the plant start growing out new shoots I’ll be able to root some cuttings. Once your plant is blooming it will form seeds pots and you can propagate it through seeds as well, though it will take a long time for seedlings to reach blooming size.
On I side note, I recently found out that although very difficult, it is possible to root cuttings from a flowering size bullata. Takes longer and it has a lower success rate. I was told that you can root the cuttings in moist sphagnum moss, and shaving the fuzz off the stems and adding rooting powder to your moss seem to help a lot.
Other Care Tips and Personal Observations:
It’s a fuzzy and cute plant that really stands out among other plants. It’s has very bright green leaves and bright orange-red flowers that are a joy to look at. I highly recommend it! Sinningia bullata is a unique looking plant that stays relatively compact and once well established, never stops flowering! Cuttings from blooming sized plants seem to last forever in high humidity (they even continue flowering) but they stubbornly refuse to root. I love sinningias in general and there are many more everblooming ones that I would love to share with you :).