Salpiglossis Sinuata: How To Grow And Care For Painted Tongue Plants

The painted tongue plant – Salpiglossis Sinuata, [sal-pee-GLOSS-iss  sin-yoo-AY-tuh], produces large flowers with interesting patterns along the veins.

It’s a flowering plant native to Chile where it’s a perennial, but most people grow it from seed each year as an annual.

You may also like these other popular annual flowers.

Bloom of the Painted Tongue flower

It belongs to the Solanaceae family, better known as the nightshade family, it has a few common names:

  • Painted tongue
  • Scalloped tube tongue
  • Velvet trumpet flower

The slender stems shoot several feet while the large flowers help brighten sunrooms and conservatories.

While it’s an attractive plant, it requires a little extra attention for healthy growth.

Salpiglossis Sinuata Care

Size and Growth

Salpiglossis sinuate can grow up to three feet tall with a limited spread but rarely grows over two feet in cultivation.

It produces long, elliptical leaves measuring about two to four inches long.

There are also dwarf hybrids with much shorter growth, including the “Bolero.”

The shorter hybrid has large flowers and is available in a range of different colors, including blue.

Flowering and Fragrance

The bloom time begins in late spring or early summer or winter. It depends on when the seeds are sown.

The plant is known for its showy flowers which create a stained glass effect with the sun shining through them.

The five-lobed petals are trumpet-shaped and measure two to three inches.

The flowers have a velvety texture and come in a rainbow of colors.

Common flower colors include orange, deep red, violet, deep blue, crimson, yellow, and cream.

Many of the varieties feature contrasting stripes on the veins earning the common name – painted tongue.

No matter the variety or color of the flowers, the painted tongue doesn’t produce a fragrance.

Light and Temperature

The plant is native to Chile and winter hardy USDA hardiness zones 11 or higher.

It’s rarely kept over winter, except in very warm regions, which is why most people grow it as an annual.

If kept indoors, it can be cultivated year round, even during the winter. Keep it in a room that doesn’t go below 50-degrees Fahrenheit.

Outdoors, give plants full sun to partial shade, but protect it from heavy wind. The thin stems are fragile and prone to breaking.

In very hot locations provide afternoon shade from the hot summer sun.

TIP: Grow it near a structure, such as a shed or property line, behind other plants, to shield it from the wind.

Watering and Feeding

Water this drought tolerant plant moderately throughout the year, but allow the surface of the soil to dry out between watering.

Feed the painted tongue with a liquid fertilizer leading up to the bloom to encourage more flowering. After the bloom, the plant doesn’t need fertilizer.

Soil and Transplanting

For optimal growth, use regular potting soil with some coarse sand added for better drainage. Sow the seeds in the spring or fall to produce summer or winter blooms.

Transplanting isn’t needed, as it’s grown as an annual.

Grooming and Maintenance

No grooming is necessary.

How to Propagate Salpiglossis Sinuata

Propagation is possible with seed. To achieve a summer bloom, sow flower tongue seeds in the spring after the last frost.

Sowing in the fall should produce a winter bloom.

To plant seeds, fill a seed tray or three-inch pots with moist commercial potting soil. Surface sow the seeds over the soil. Cover with a thin layer of the potting mix.

Cover the tray or pots with plastic, but make sure it has ventilation. Set the tray or pots in a shaded area and keep at normal room temperature.

When the seedlings emerge, remove the plastic cover and place the tray or pots in a sunnier spot.

Water the growing plants sparingly, just enough to keep the soil moist.

Wait for the leaves to appear before separating the plants into trays or pots, keeping the plants about 1.5″ inches apart.

When separating, hold the plants by the leaves instead of the stem.

Press a small hole into the soil for the young plants and then press the soil around the plant.

Water the plants gently using a fine mist from a spray bottle.

When the plants are firmly established, transplant into five-inch or six-inch pots.

Painted Tongue Pests or Diseases

This attractive annual isn’t prone to pests or diseases, other than rot.

If the base of the stem looks discolored, plants may have crown rot. To reduce the risk of this problem, always use quality potting soil.

TIP: Add fungicide to growing plants when they’re still in the seed trays to reduce the risk of crown rot.

All parts of the plant are poisonous and shouldn’t be ingested by animals or people.

Always use caution and avoid growing the plant in areas where pets or children may easily reach it.

Suggested Painted Tongue Salpiglossis Uses

Works great on a patio during the summer.

As it can bloom in the winter when the seeds are sown in the fall, it also makes a great choice for adding color to a porch, balcony or conservatory during the colder months.

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