Hardy gloxinia

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@jimmckenney.com
Tue, 31 Aug 2010 07:24:00 PDT
I was out photographing a new plant of Sinningia speciosa ‘Carangola’ which
is blooming now – this came from Plants Delight the other day and the person
who picked out my plants gets a big thank you from me! 


I started to do a blog entry on this plant, and toyed with the idea of
calling it a hardy gloxinia (it probably won’t be hardy for me in any usual
sense; I suspect that it’s a zone 8 plant at best, but I won’t know until I
try) and then it hit me: whatever happened to the OTHER plant called hardy
gloxinia, Incarvillea delavayi?


The Incarvillea is a bignoniaceous plant, the Sinningia is a gesneriad, so
they are not that closely related. They really don’t look that much alike,
either, but there’s no accounting for names. 


I was then surprised to discover that there is no wiki page for this genus. 


When I was a kid, during the spring big wooden crates of Incarvillea
delavayi were displayed in dime stores, Sears & Roebuck stores and other
unseemly places. The Incarvillea plants looked like a bunch of tan or dirty
white carrots attached to a crown with a tuft of glossy green leaves. They
probably weighed a pound each.  They were always relatively inexpensive. If
planted promptly they soon came into bloom. To my eyes, these are messy
looking plants, and I never really liked them very much. But it is
interesting to watch the stigma do its thing. 


I can only remember one occasion when I saw this plant in a local garden.
And when I returned years later to see if it was still there, it was not. I
was never able to keep one past the initial bloom of a new plant. 


I suspect that it needs a dry summer under our conditions – dry as in no
water after the foliage dies down for the year. They probably rot in our
summer soils.


It’s been thirty or forty years since I’ve grown one, and I would like to
try again. 


Is anyone else out there growing I. delavayi or any other species of this
genus in the garden? Be sure to let me know where you are. And if you are in
eastern North America and are able to keep them from year to year in the
garden, I would like to know what you are doing.  


Jim McKenney


Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA zone

My Virtual Maryland Garden http://www.jimmckenney.com/

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Editor PVC Bulletin http://www.pvcnargs.org/ 


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