Sinningia pusilla Run Amuck

My butter dish terrarium, which won People's Choice at the Gesneriad Society local chapter show in September, was growing gangbusters on one of my plant shelves for the past five months. Although the show judges booted me to third place because they thought the plants I chose wouldn't live well in the container for any length of time, it's been almost half a year, and not only are they living, but they're making babies left and right! This photo is cropped from a larger photo, just so you can see how the Sinningia pusilla seedpod--still attached to the main plant!--has seedlings growing out of it. On the bottom right, you'll see a couple seedlings popping up out of the sphagnum. In the full photo, there are several mounds of green where seedpods dropped onto the sphagnum or seeds were dropped when the seedpods popped open.

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8 Responses to Sinningia pusilla Run Amuck

  1. Would you have any S.p to sell? they are hard to find! Brian

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    1. Hi Brian!

      Sinningia pusilla seeds are fairly common on eBay, but you're right, the plants themselves are a bit tricky to find still, although they're out there. I don't currently have tubers I'm willing to part with, but they're out there! The Gesneriad Society supplier listing will have at least one grower with Sinningia pusilla available, I'm certain!

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  3. Would you care to elaborate on your choice of growing medium and any tip for success with sinningia pusilla...love your blog! Thanks, Patrick

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    1. Hi Patrick! Thank you for the love!

      And regarding the growing medium, in the photo, it's a tiny bit of whatever-the-tuber-was-growing-in-originally around the roots and then stuck in some long-fibre sphagnum for placement and moisture during the show.

      Usually, I grow most of my gesneriads in a pretty simple mix: about 50% milled sphagnum, 25% vermiculite, and 25% perlite. I do this all by feel, so it's not really an exact measurement--if I used a bag of milled sphagnum, about half of a bag of the other two (maybe less on the vermiculite, depending on how the mix feels) gets tossed in my mixing tub. I adjust the perlite upward if I have plants that need a more free-draining mix (many of my larger tuberous Sinningia) or for plants that I plan to grow completely enclosed.

      In fact, because I mostly grow gesneriads (about 1/2 of my collection), that tends to be the standard mix for all of my plants. The Stapelia don't complain, nor do the Musa/Ensete or even the Tephrocactus!

      Of course the orchids are a completely different story...

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    2. Now, tips on Sinningia pusilla success--humidity. Lots of it. Got a mason jar? Grow it in that with the lid on. The soil shouldn't be wet--I've had S. pusilla rot in no time with wet soil, but grow happily for weeks and even months with dry-ish soil, as long as they were enclosed with humidity.

      They don't need a ton of light--they can be grown on the edge of the plant shelf where the fluorescent tube light starts petering out. I have a few growing in acrylic containers in my office window happily--they're just babies, but they bloom every once in a while.

      One tip? Don't get complacent. S. pusilla is a baby-making demon if you treat it right (it self-fertilizes its flowers, and the pods don't take long to mature), but once you have dozens of plants lurking around, you start giving them away, trying new things with them, and suddenly, you can't find a good-looking specimen anymore and you wonder whether you have any left at all! I have one struggling tuber at home (it's not really enclosed, it's in a misting tank with the orchids) and the two in the office--I think that's all that's left of the dozens I used to have, after selling/gifting/generally losing my stock.

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    3. I keep hitting "publish" too soon.

      Soil moisture: "moist" is best, generally. "Wet" is less good, "dry" also less good. But I'd err on the dry side than the wet side--it's easier to correct!

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  4. I just pecked out a long reply on my smart phone only to lose it when I hit the publish button lol! Thanks for your quick and informative response! I'll elaborate when I can get to my desktop! So disheartening this sketchy phone service!

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