One of the Joys of Maturity
We've grown gloxinias for over 30 years, but have never put together a web page devoted to sharing photos of the gorgeous plants. So here are some of our best plant photos, some dating back 16 years to the first roll of film we had digitalized of our gloxinias. Each image is linked to a larger version of the photo.
Since I'm a writer of sorts, you'll find some commentary about some of the shots and growing conditions interspersed with the pictures.
Please note that all photos on this page and site are copyrighted, but may be used for desktop photos or classroom use without permission or payment. All other use requires prior consent, massive royalty payments, your left pinkie finger... (Actually, I'm a pretty soft touch on non-commercial use of my photos. Just , please.)
Our gloxinia photos go back to 1996 when a couple of my students and I set up a white sheet as a backdrop and grabbed some shots of the plants that adorned our classroom. Over the years, I've edited out the backdrop from some of the photos and also created some nice composite shots. I wonder if the kids still remember our photo day?
A white-fringed, red Double Brocade almost looks too good to be a real flower. The dark purple Empress proved hard to photograph with its deep velvety blooms. And the purple and white Empress is typical of many gloxinias that can have petals and the throat of the bloom different colors. (The far right photo also shows our bedsheet backdrop.)
My students hand pollinated our gloxinias with Q-tips. The saved seed in later years produced a variety of white blooming gloxinias with spots ranging from pink to red to purple such as the two shown above, along with all the normal reds, whites, and purples.
Before getting away from the old school shots, let me add that the kids took home one or two blooming gloxinias for Mother's Day each year. The plants were grown mostly from seed saved by my previous year's class!
After our classroom photo fling in 1996, there's quite a gap in years where I don't have any digital gloxinia shots. Film and developing were an expensive extravagance in those years. Then came the introduction of digital photography with camera resolutions eventually rivaling and surpassing film photography. I went through a couple of point-and-shoot digital cameras, using them to record lots of garden images (along with all the family occasions, weddings, etc., that one hauls a camera to) for several years, but not getting any real "keepers" of gloxinia shots.
Knowing my frustration with what were really neat, but limited cameras, my darling wife suggested I order the camera of my dreams, within reason, for my birthday in 2009. With the addition of a good lens and some filters, I was quickly recording some great gloxinia images, often closeups of blooms to illustrate pollination techniques for Senior Gardening.
But during the intervening years, I was still growing gloxinias on an old plant rack I first built in the late 1970's! It got torn down and reassembled at each place I lived, now residing in the basement of our lovely, hundred plus year old farmhouse.
Even with varying "daylight" time with the fluorescent shoplights we use, our gloxinias seem to know when it's spring and summer. They burst into bloom providing lots of plants to display upstairs on our kitchen counter. And through the winter, we almost always have at least one or two plants in bloom. They make quite a display.
Our kitchen counter with its unobstructed west facing window is our usual display point for our best gloxinias. We set them on coffee cans to give the plants a boost up to window height, using an inverted coffee can lid as a drip pan. Sometimes meal preparation or even just making a pot of coffee can be difficult from all the plants, cuttings, and starts crowding for space on the counter. I'm lucky to have an understanding, loving, and long-suffering wife.
The white Empress gloxinia at the far right above carries a "superstar" notation on its plant tag. It's one of our older gloxinias that produces an incredible amount of blooms over a very long (months) period of time. While gloxinias from seed produce some nice blooms in their first year, it's after the second or third period of dormancy that the plants begin to produce massive amounts of blooms. The white superstar at one point carried 20 open blooms!
A purple Double Brocade, a white fringed red Empress, a velvety red Empress along with a purple Cranberry Tiger are shown above. Our Cranberry Tiger seed came from a seed swap with fellow gloxinia grower John Rizzo. Note that some of the flowers shown are probably crosses, as we still hand pollinate our gloxinias for seed production.
Possibly the best bloom shot I have of our gloxinias came from the rather pastel, white and red throated, open pollinated gloxinia shown above right and below. I was using the plant and bloom to illustrate hand pollinating technique for our Saving Gloxinia Seed feature story. You can see where I dribbled pollen across the flower petal. The shot is always a delight when it comes up in our rotation of Desktop Photos.
Here are some more closeups of various gloxinia blooms.
We hand pollinate blooms and save gloxinia seed from our plants. The image below is of a gloxinia bud full of seed, almost ready to crack open at the base and begin shedding seed.
A related feature story, Saving Gloxinia Seed, gives illustrated instructions on how to hand pollinate gloxinias to produce seed.
I'd posted on our regular blog and our gloxinias blog that we lost almost all of our gloxinia plants to the INSV virus last year. Only a few plants that were in a separate area for dormant corms appear to have escaped the virus. One such plant, shown at left, is a gorgeous Cranberry Tiger in its third or fourth year. It and the few other survivors now line a shaded area of our back porch.
The reason for segregating such beautiful plants is that I still want to keep them separate from our re-start of gloxinias. I had seeded gloxinias from seed we'd saved in February and again in May. Those plants matured in our upstairs sunroom while I disinfected our regular plant room in the basement where our plant rack is.
Gloxinias grown from seed typically take five to seven months to come into bloom. When our new gloxinias began blooming in July, I moved one flat of them (8-10 plants) back under the plant lights in our plant room. When they remained healthy, and when the length of daylight began to diminish in August, I moved the rest of our new gloxinias from the sunroom to the plant room.
Our May planting of the Empress and Cranberry Tiger varieties shown below are also coming into bloom, making an incredible display under our plant lights.
So far, our new plants appear to be disease free.
Having started way too many gloxinias with our re-start of our collection in 2014, we found this year that we simply didn't have adequate space for all of the third year, heavily blooming plants. We gave away around twenty plants, but more space was needed.
It turned out that we had a perfect spot for displaying our gloxinias in bloom. With our dining room table pushed up to the large bay windows in the dining room, the plants received all the light they needed from spring to late fall.
The images in this feature story were captured with a variety of cameras. The initial shots from my classroom were taken with my old Canon AE-1 35mm SLR film camera. The 40 year old AE-1 still works today! A few of the images were taken with my first digital cameras, a Nikon Coolpix 4300 followed by a Nikon Coolpix P60. Each took excellent pictures, but had serious problems that I would call design flaws.
When it came time to move on to a digital SLR, I chose a Canon Digital Rebel XSi. Once I ditched its kit lens in favor of a Canon EF-S 17-85mm zoom lens, I had the camera I needed to do serious closeups along with all the general garden shots I take. The XSi isn't perfect, as its metering system drives me nuts at times, but it's the best camera I've ever used. And the 17-85 lens is heavy, but since I lugged around a Mimiya RB-67 when doing wedding and portrait photography in my younger days, the bulk of the unit feels pretty good in my hands.
Sadly, in the world of electronics, things don't last forever. The 17-85mm lens had an electronics failure and was replaced with Canon's newer version of the lens, a Canon EF-S 15-85mm lens that is a full f-stop faster. (The 17-85 was repaired and is now being used by one of my daughters with her XSi.)
While it didn't fail, after over 30,000 images the XSi was replaced by a new Canon T5i body. The XSi was overdue for a thorough cleaning and adjustment. While Canon had just released their new T6 series of Digital Rebels, I saved a few buck by buying a model behind the latest and greatest. The T5i now sports the 15-85mm lens, while the XSi has its old standard lens on it and serves as a backup camera.
Back to Gloxinias
I started growing gloxinias sometime in the late 1970's. I was already growing some of my own garden transplants, so adding flowers under our plant rack wasn't all that big a deal.
As the years went on, our gloxinia collection would increase and decline. But partially from my years as a wedding photographer, keeping film, photo paper, and especially the expensive 500-volt dry cell batteries we used in the freezer to preserve them, freezing seed never seemed like all that much trouble.
In a bit of a tragedy all of my own making, we lost all of our gloxinia plants in 2007. I then had the experience of starting all over with gloxinias. I had the advantages, of course, of already having a plant rack with lights, lots of seed stored in our manual defrost chest freezer, and some experience in starting and caring for the plants. But having to start over got me back to where folks who are new to growing these lovely plants begin and helped me in writing our Gloxinias and Saving Gloxinia Seed feature stories.
The experience was also a sad reminder that one doesn't usually get glorious, florist quality gloxinias with 10-20 center blooms from a first year plant. And I use the expression "florist quality gloxinias" in a historical sense, as I've not found a florist in recent years that sells and delivers gloxinias! That's sad as I think I "discovered" gloxinias from a plant delivered to the hospital when one of our children was born.
Where to Buy Gloxinia Seed (updated 10/23/2015)
Our previous supplier of seed for the beautiful Empress gloxinia dropped gloxinias from their 2015 seed catalog! It appears now that they may have reconsidered and restocked. I no longer use that supplier. There are a lot of other sellers of Empress seed (and other varieties) on eBay and Amazon. Before buying, you might want to check out the sellers' ratings at Dave's Garden!
Our last good Double Brocade hybrid gloxinia seed came from Pase Seeds.
Another source of gloxinia seed is The Gesneriad Society. I've received some good seed via member swaps. Membership runs $25/year and allows one to order from their massive Seed Fund collection. The Society also has a web page of Gesneriad Suppliers, some of which appear to sell corms and plants.
Note: I don't sell gloxinia seed, corms, or plants. I have, on occasion, traded seed with other growers and give away a lot of plants. One very positive swap was with John Rizzi from California, who sent me a generous sample of Cranberry Tiger gloxinia seed in exchange for some of our open pollinated seed. His seed has produced some really lovely plants.
Other Gloxinia Pages from the Old Guy at Senior Gardening
From Steve, the at Senior Gardening
Last updated: 10/23/2016