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How to Grow: Gloxinias
This common florist plant originated from Brazil. The original species featured large, bell-shaped, lavender-colored flowers on plants with big, hairy leaves. Through breeding there are now selections ranging in colors from pink to dark purple with single or double flowers. This potted plant can be grown as a summer annual and as a houseplant. It’s the gloxinia.
Gloxinia found at the florist and garden centers in winter make attractive houseplants for a time. Unfortunately, the large, colorful flowered selections are grown from seed and don’t easily reflower indoors. These hybrid varieties are best enjoyed while flowering and then composted afterward.
But you can grow gloxinias as a perennial houseplant. You just have to select tuber-grown varieties such as the Butterfly Series. Pot up the tubers in winter in containers filled with moistened potting soil and compost. Gloxinias like a well-drained soil high in organic matter. Since gloxinias are related to African violets, treat them the same way.
Place the pots in a room with bright, indirect light in a 70 F room. Keep the soil evenly moist. Avoid getting the leaves wet and keep the humidity high by clustering plants together and placing them on pebble trays filled with water.
Your gloxinias should grow strong and start flowering within a few months. They’ll keep blooming for 3 to 4 months. Once flowering finishes and the leaves start to die back, your gloxinias will need a rest. Cut back the foliage, stop watering and place the containers in a cool, dark basement for 2 months. After this rest period bring them back out to grow and flower again in winter.