SINNINGIA BULLATA is a popular and hardy GESNARIAD, 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 DO NOT HAVE DORMANT PERIOD OVER. 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 any time 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.
The hairiness on the plants is ON THE STEM OF THE TOP TWO IMTERNODES and the REVERSE OF THE TOP TWO PAIRS OF LEAVES. It’s not easy to tell whether the hairs on the stems and leaves lower down just drop off or somehow mat against the plant surface. I don’t see any signs of fallen hairs, but neither do the lower stems have matted hairs.
INSTRUCTIONS IN TAKING CARE OF SINNINGIA BULLATA
> Sinningia grow from tubers, so there is SEASONALITY TO THEM. When the plant is actively growing, KEEP IT LIGHTLY MOIST. When the foliage dies back, just MIST THE SOIL REGULARLY TO KEEP THE TUBERS FROM DRYING OUT TOO MUCH. Start your NORMAL WATERING when new leaves start to show. As with most plants, sinningias can survive a SHORT DROUGHT, but they DON’T RECOVER FROM DROWNING. Use TEPID WATER when watering. Nobody enjoys a cold shower. WATER THE SOIL NOT THE PLANT. Sinningias are PRONE TO CROWN ROT gray mold which happens when the leaves stay wet. DO NOT LET THE PLANT SIT IN THE WATER, it must be WELL DRAINED.
> Sinningias are SHADE PLANTS. They have the SAME LIGHT REQUIREMENTS as an African violet. MORNING OR SOFT LATE AFTERNOON LIGHT IS BEST. That means an East, shaded West, or North-facing window. By all means, avoid direct sun during the harsh “skin cancer” hours of the day.
>REGULAR MEALS DURING THE GROWING SEASON. When in leaf and bloom FERTILIZE EVERY OTHER WATERING. USE A FERTILIZER with a BALANCED FORMULA ( 10-10-10 or 20-20-20) mixed at ½ the usual strength. You can try to encourage a second blooming by cutting the plant back to the first two leaves after it finishes blooming. When the leaves fall off, move the pot into a cool (58 – 65 degrees), DARK PLACE TO REST.
> Your plant is potted in a PEAT POTTING MIX but any well-draining soil-less mix will be fine. REPOT your sinningia when NEW SHOOTS APPEAR. INCREASE THE POT SIZE only if you must and then by the smallest increment possible. AVOID DEEP POTS, they will HOLD TOO MUCH MOISTURE. Moisten the mix prior to removing the plant from the old pot. It makes it EASIER TO REMOVE the plant WITHOUT DAMAGE. Moisten the new mix before planting. Pot the sinningia so that the mix is firmly in the pot but still airy. Remember to pot the plant so that the crown of leaves sits just above the potting mix surface.
> REMOVE SPENT FLOWERS. In particular, DO NOT LET SPENT BLOSSOMS DROP ONTO THE LEAVES AND LAY THERE. This will invite ROT AND DISEASE. REMOVE OLD, yellowed, or UNHEALTHY LEAVES. A CLEAN PLANT IS BETTER ABLE TO REMAIN PEST AND DISEASE FREE. If you use anything to cut leaves or stems, MAKE SURE TO STERILIZE THE INSTRUMENT FIRST.
> KEEP THE PLANT IN COMFORT ZONE. It is happy in the temperature range between 65 and 85 degrees. It is well suited to NORMAL HOUSE TEMPERATURES.