July 31, 2011

How to Tease Hummingbirds

Semi hardy Sinningia tubiflora in the garden. This still relatively difficult to find, yet easy to master perennial will still need winter protection in Zone 5, but when grown in a container, it makes a fragrant, long-lived plant with delightfully fragrant, long-tubed flowers. When dormant, the potato-like tubers can be divided and shared with friends, for it produces many.
 The hardy Sinningia ( think - Gloxinia, yes, as in Florist Gloxinia and African Violets) are making a big impact with plant collectors. Hardy outdoors in zones up to USDA Zone 7, these tuberous-rooted perennials which also make great container plants, are really well performing plants worth seeking out. There are a few species being crossed together, to create these forms and new colors, mainly Sinningia tubiflora, which appeared on the scene about ten years ago with little fanfare, Sinningia curtiflora ( Corytholoma curtifolorum), Sinningia warmingii and Sinningia aggregata. Now, gardeners can have not only white forms, but pinks and even pale yellow forms. If you are not growing this plant yet, you should. Just be patient, and don't fuss too much with them. I never had luck until I abused them, tossed a bag of tubers into a large pot and just let them do their thing outdoors. Now? The entire garden smells just like sun tan lotion ( yeah, suntan lotion - the coconut kind). Perfect.
This container of S. tubiflora is three years old, I started with one tuber, and now the container is so full of compressed tubers, that I will need a sledge hammer to unpot it later in the winter. The foliage dislikes getting wet in the evening, it will discolor quickly. When watered in the morning, it will evaporate, especially when grown on a gravel walk, such as here. The extra heat helps keep the foliage dryer. Rain does not bother it.

A new cross, Sinningia warmingii x Sinningia tubiflora  came from a seedling raised from a Gesneriad Society seed exchange. It was names Sinningia 'Carolyn', and it is proving to be a real winner in many test plantings with stems as tall as 36 inches. I a. growing this one in a large, 12 inch clay pot . Introduced in 2011, it was trialed since 2007 with many rave reviews. You can order it from Plant Delight Nurseries.

Who would ever had imagined that an African Violet relative might ever make a super garden plant~
So why are my hummingbirds pissed? This morning I watched them trying to get nectar out of these floral tubes, but alas, the tubes are too long ( or the beaks too short). Damn Darwin! He never planned on Plant Delights or the Internet.

1 comment :

  1. Nice post, I'll have to get some of the colored forms!I think they smell a little like fruit loops..!


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