Salpiglossis, or painted tongue, offers up a kaleidoscope of color, with each flower rich in shadings of pigment and strong veins. Related to petunias, salpiglossis have the same open-faced, trumpet-like flowers. Natives of Chile, they're well worth extra effort to grow.
Description of salpiglossis, painted tongue: Unlike petunias, salpiglossis is a relatively upright grower, reaching up to 3 feet in the garden. Flowers are about 21/2 inches in diameter. The colors are cream, lemon-yellow, gold, orange, brown, red, scarlet, violet, and near blue. Most of them are overlaid with veins and other patterns of color, making them look like stained glass.
Growing salpiglossis, painted tongue: Salpiglossis grows best where summers are moderate, in full sun and fertile, well-drained soil. They must have a continuous supply of moisture. Transplant them outdoors in the spring as soon as all danger of frost has passed. Protect them from high winds. As an alternative, push brushwood into the ground around a young plant; the foliage will hide the support as it grows.
Propagating salpiglossis, painted tongue: Start new plants from seeds. Sow seeds indoors 8 weeks prior to planting out. This will allow good-sized plants for setting into the garden after the danger of frost has passed. Seeds should be covered; they need darkness to germinate. Seeds germinate in 15 to 20 days at 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Uses for salpiglossis, painted tongue: Salpiglossis are ideal for the center of beds or borders as long as other plants cover their somewhat untidy feet. Do the same with containers. Locate them in the center and surround them with lower-growing plants and trailers. They make good cut flowers.
Salpiglossis, painted tongue related varieties: Bolero is a tall strain growing to 21/2 feet, with many different flower colors and variants. Dwarf Friendship Mixture blooms on 15-inch plants. Kew Blue has been selected for blue flowers laced with gold veins. Casino Blade is deep maroon.
Scientific name of salpiglossis, painted tongue: Salpiglossis sinuata