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 :).