African Violets for Everyone

Plants for pure pleasure

Growing Sinningias in Australia

My other plant passion!
I have been growing Sinningias for almost as long as I have been growing African violets. I began hybridising with them in the late 1980s. I grow many of the species, but the majority of what I grow consists of my own hybrids.

My main interest is in the mid-size plants including S. eumorpha, S. conspicua, S. cardinalis and others similar. One of my aims has been to produce a more appealing peloric sinningia of this type. The original peloric "sport" of S. cardinalis was 'George Kalmbacher' which had very small lobes. I look to increase the size of the flower, the size and spread of the lobes and the range of colours while still retaining a heavy flowering habit. The majority of these plants will grow to 300mm to 800mm in height and approximately the same in width, according to type.

Sinningia Quantum

I have produced countless hybrids so far. Those appearing on the photographic pages are some of the few I think worthy of a name.

They are not available for sale as I do not have the space to grow a sale quantity of plants. I do, however, produce some extra plants of each variety I think worthy and they are distributed in a very limited way, normally through the societies. The photographs below are of some fairly new seedlings that show some promise.

Sinningia hybrid
Sinningia hybrid
Sinningia hybrid

The foregoing raises the question: What is a peloric Sinningia?

Sinningias naturally produce flowers that are zygomorphic, which is to say they have a two-lipped appearance. There are normally two top petals in the flower, and three bottom petals. These flowers are symmetrical about the vertical centre line of the flower only. That is, they have two halves that are mirror images of each other. They are often nodding, or slipper shaped. Peloric  flowers occur as a mutation and they have all the petals the same size, the flower being symmetrical radially, or about any axis line. Fortunately this mutation can be reproduced in hybridising. For me, this ideally means they must be radially symmetrical as to the calyx, the tube and the face of the flower.

So if the normal flower is the slipper-shaped one, why would one look for a peloric flower?

That is simple. Such flowers  usually stand pretty much upright, excepting where a long or weak stem curves down so they hang. They present a very attractive appearance. The inside of the flower is often more highly coloured and has more markings than the outside, so it seems to me that it is desirable that it should display itself. In the zygomorphic flower markings often occur only in the bottom of the tube and on the lower petals. In the peloric flower the markings appear identically in each petal. The second of the three photographs above shows this  well.

A note on growing sinningias:

The plants I grow are best grown in a very bright position. In my area which is the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia, they grow well in outdoor conditions, although a very bright indoor position will do. Sturdy compact plants with a multitude of flowers are the result of a high light level.

In this fairly warm climate they are little bothered by winter temperatures, because that is their period of dormancy. They retreat to a dormant tuber that sits at or partly above the surface of the soil or potting mix. While dormant they should be protected from freezing temperatures and from flooding. A little moisture is needed to keep the tubers from withering.

Many of my plants are grown in a shadehouse, whose main function is to protect them from bugs, rather than to provide shade. I grow most plants in pots. I only plant in the garden those tubers that are spare plants, or which I don't really need. The pots are then placed under cover during winter so they cannot become too wet.

The potting mix should be light textured, yet moisture retentive. Pots should be squat shaped and not normally more than 30mm wider than the tuber. Once in active growth there is quick growth so regular fertilising is needed.

Ruth Coulson

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There are a number of photographs of Sinningias in the Photo Galleries

There are a number of articles on this site to help in caring for African violets and other Gesneriad plants. New material will be added from time to time. For now this is the last article in the sequence. Other articles coming soon.  

The book "African Violets for Everyone" is available for purchase from this site. It is full of information and illustrations to help in growing these plants. 

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