Sinningia bullata

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.

Sinningia bullata

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.

Sinningia bullata

Watering needs:

Sinningia bullata

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.


Young sinningia bullata

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.

Sinningia bullata flower

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 :).

17 thoughts on “Sinningia bullata

  1. Hi there,

    I have a Sinningia Bullata which does not get any direct light. It gets afternoon filtered light from a west facing window sill.

    I bought it potted in a glass vessel using moss instead of soil. The pot is not drianed but it keeps well drained from the moss.

    Recently it has developed brown spots on the leaves which looks like rot. I’m afraid to cut the leaves as I don’t know what will happen. It has never flowered (in 2 months) but that does not matter to me as I love the unique look and texture of this plant.

    Do you have any care tips which may help me maintain a strong and potentially blooming plant?

    Kind regards,


    1. The spots might be from water drops that precipitated on the leaves. I’ve gotten brown spots on the leaves as well after accidentally spraying the plant with water. You can wait out the leaves to fall off naturally if that’s the case. If it looks more serious you can try spraying it with fungicide. In my experience fungicide does further damage to the leaves and they might fall off or you can try and rinse the fungicide an hour after the application to prevent further leaf damage. You can also make your own spray dissolving baking soda in water (the high pH disrupts fungal infections, since fungi like acidic conditions). Keep in mind that getting baking soda solution onto your sinningia bullata’s roots might be disastrous, since the plant likes acidic conditions.

      If you have a tuber formed at the bottom of your plant you can pretty much cut off the whole leafy part (and root it since your plant hasn’t started flowering yet) and new shoots will sprout out of the tuber shorty after. So don’t feel bad about removing a few leaves if you must. Running low on certain nutrients (mostly K) will makes your plant more susceptible to diseases like rot, and sometimes simply re-potting it solved the problem. If your leaves were browning at the tips I would suggest higher humidity and a humidity tray, though I don’t think that’s the case with your plant.

      Depending on how big your plant is, it might be just a matter of time before it starts blooming (sometimes it takes couple of years for the plant to reach blooming size). You can also try slightly higher light levels, maybe an hour or 2 direct morning/late afternoon light will be sufficient to induce blooming (that might help with the fungal infection as well).

      My best advise would be to make cuttings while you can. Once it starts blooming it seems impossible to propagate it. If you have just a few spots on your leaves you can definitely make cuttings and ignore the spots. That way you can try different conditions and see what works best. If there are a lot of spots, it might be better to just cut off and throw away the infected parts.

      I’ve made it a standard practice to propagate plants as soon as I acquire them. That way I always have a back up with my new plants, and can experiment with my conditions.

      I hope this was helpful. If you’re not sure which way to go with your plant you can always send me a picture of it, maybe I’ll be able to help out more.

  2. I just bought a Sinningia bullata plant. It has bulb (slight brown colour stuff, like a mushroom) above the soil, leaves come out from the middle of the bulb and round 4 inches high.

    Would you please advise

    1. how to do the Propagation? Is it to cut the leave part with part of the bulb and replant it in new pot?

    2. When I water the plant, should I water the bulb or the soil?


    1. 1. You can try to root a cutting. You cut off a small branch. Best place to cut it is about half an inch under a node (node is where leaves can come off from the sides of the stem), then remove the bottom leaves leaving 1 or 2 leaves at the top of the cutting. Dipping the bottom of the cutting in rooting hormone before putting it in water or moist soil to root will definitely help. I have not tried to cut a piece off the bulb, it might cause the bulb to rot. If your plant is flowering size, rooting cuttings wont work. You’ll have to propagate the plant through seeds.

      2. Definitely water the soil. The bulb stores water and nutrients for the plant, so S. bullata can take occasional neglect. As long as the bulb remains healthy the plant will be able to recover from all sorts of issues. Watering the bulb directly, cutting it, or covering it with soil, all can lead to the bulb rotting, so I would not recommend it.

      I am not sure If I could manage cutting a piece of the bulb with a growth on it, without killing the original plant (getting the bulb to rot for example), but I think I might try it, since I have a spare S. bullata. I’ll let you know if I make it work.

      Hope this helps! Let me know if you have more questions!

  3. Hello,
    I just bought the Sinningia Bullata and I’m a bit confused with the care and watering. I was wondering how often you water your Bullata plant? The nursery where I bought mine said to water once a month while other websites have said once every 3 months. These websites mention other types of Sinningia plants though so I’m not sure if the care instructions can be applied specifically to the Sinningia Bullata.

    Also, I was wondering if you feed your Bullata plant or if it is necessary? If so, what kind of feed would you recommend?

    Thank you!


    1. Hi Jessica,

      The watering needs depend on many factors: what type of soil your plant is in, size of the plant, how humid the environment is and so on. I would generally recommend making sure there is enough humidity in the air and waiting till the plant is fully dry to water it. Pick up the pot and if it feels very light (it will be easy to tell) then it’s time to water the plant. That would be the best way to figure out how often to water your plant. Better to dry it up a bit too much than over water it (if you dry it out you still might recover it from the bulb, but if you overwater it and the bulb rots than it will be much harder to recover the plant). I let my plant fully dry and soak it for a bit. I do feed it african violet fertilizer at 1/4 of the recommended concentration. Keep in mind that nurseries usually manage to keep the humidity very high. I personally water my plant about once every week to 2 weeks depending on the season, because my humidity level is somewhat on the dry side and my plant dries out fast.

      I hope this helps!

  4. I grow this plant in Sydney, Australia, outside in a shadehouse. It does well in a hanging basket as an alternative to a pot, the basket turning the “legginess” into an asset. I have finally rooted cuttings from a flowering plant – I find I have to try 6 or 7, preferably new shoots coming from the tuber, just to get one to root. I think if the shoot has never flowered, there is some chance of success even if older shoots from the mother plant are flowering/have flowered. I use long-fibre sphagnum moss as a medium, lots of rooting hormone, terrarium conditions (eg in a pot inside a plastic bag) and put the cuttings over a heat mat, even in our friendly climate. It still takes ages – and most die. This is a lovely article about an outstanding plant – and I would agree with Vesi – cutting into the bulb sounds too risky.

  5. Hi I am interested in trying to grow some from cuttings from my plant ( which has NOT flowered).
    I’m am unsure wher to take the cuttings from, ie the tip of the new Shute or take the stem from the tuber

    Cheers Juliana

    1. Try taking tip cutting that includes at least 2 nodes (wider part on the stem where new growth can come from), and remove any leaves from the bottom node of the cutting. The bottom leafless node of the cutting is where roots can start growing. You can either “plant” the cutting in moist moss in an enclosed container with high humidity (I use ziplock bags or glass jars), or put it in water.

      Hope this helps! Let me know how it goes :).

  6. I have a sinningia bullata in Sydney Australia, it is indoor in a very light room. It just has one stem and has had one flower. It looks very healthy but is getting very leggy and leans, should I support it in some way or should I cut some of the stem. Will it only grow new shoots from the bulb or will the stem produce more shoots on it.

    1. You can do either. I would suggest trimming it a bit (a tad bit above a node), and moving it to where it gets a bit more light, or closer to the window. The plant can branch out from the stem too. You can also support it and wait for new growth before trimming the leggy stem.

      Hope this helps!

  7. I have this plant and it was flowering when I bought it but has not since. It has grown quite large but hangs down over the pot, like a hanging basket. Should I trim it or let it keep growing? It is quite healthy.

    1. In my experience, it seems to flower on new growth. Trimming it should encourage a better and denser-growing plant and more flowers.

  8. Finally! Someone who knows about this lovely plant! I received one three years ago. It lives on the kitchen windowsill. I think it needs repotting. I’ve no idea about how to go about this. It’s in a 5’’ pot from the nursery and when it got so leggy I just trimmed it. I don’t keep it wet. If anything it gets a bit neglected. But I feel that if I gave it new soil and a bit of TLC it might look happier again. Can you please advise me on a pot size, growing medium, etc? It’s only flowered twice in 3 years.
    Many thanks.

    1. Sure! In my experience it likes to be pot bound, so I would repot it in an only slightly larger pot, or leave it in the same pot, and just exchange the potting medium. Leave the bulb/tuber poking a bit out of the soil. It prefers light acidic soil. Any well draining acidic soil should work. I usually add peat moss and perlite to an african violet soil and it works pretty well. You can also add a bit of moss, orchid bark, or even clay pebbles. Just any epiphytic medium mixed with regular potting soil or african violet soil, some grow this plant in just moss. A bit more sunlight and some light feeding should get it flowering a lot more. Having it pot bound also promotes flowering.

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