The genus Sinningia consists of over 70 species, all native to South America, and is a beloved member of the Gesneriaceae family (same family as African Violets). The genus was named after Wilhelm Sinning, who was a gardener at the University of Bonn’s botanical garden and arboretum in the early 1800s (Germany). Along with their showy flowers, and easy to grow demeanor, sinningias’ fascinating tubers add interest to this unusual group of house plants. Most plants grown in cultivation are hybrids between various species and produce a wide array of flower color, leaf size, leaf color, and habit. Sinnigia cultivars grow best in warm temperatures with higher humidity and in bright indirect light. It’s best not to get water on their leaves, so when possible water from below, or right at the soil level.
The University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Biology Greenhouses has a small collection of sinningia hybrids that all began to flower in late spring of 2016. Below is more information and links to more photos.
Sinningia ‘Arkansas Empress’ – This cultivar was bred by Dr. Jon Lindstrom of the University of Arkansas in 2006. This full sized sinningia is a cross between S. insularis x. S. conspicua and becomes covered in coral-salmon colored flowers. Even when not in flower, the red and purple coloration of the leaves add interest to the plant all season.
Sinningia ‘Lil Georgie’ – One of the smallest sinningias on the market, S. ‘Lil Georgie’ has leaves that are only a few centimeters long. It prefers to grow in a high humidity setting, and produces delicate purple and white flowers. Sinningia ‘lil Georgie’ was hybridized by Jim Steuerlein in Florida and is a hybrid between S. concinnia x S. muscicola.
Sinningia ‘Stone’s Yulia’ - This is cultivar is a miniature sinningia out of Taiwan and gets wonderful pink and white flowers.
Sinningia ‘Bright Eyes’ – This selection was created by Carl Clayberg in 1964 and was created by crossing S. pusilla x S. concinnia and then backcrossing to S. pusilla. It enjoys high humidity and has become well known for its very floriferous nature.