Discovered in 1777 by British horticulturists, the bold blooms of the cineraria plant have been brightening global gardens for centuries. Native to southern Africa, the Canary Islands, and Madeira, their cultivation quickly spread internationally, making them a must-see in nearly every corner of the globe.
Today, these daisy-like flowers are a spring favorite, with a wide-ranging color palette featuring every shade of the rainbow, from cheerful yellow and orange to vibrant purple, blue, and crimson. With a variety of sizes and shades available, cineraria is a welcome addition to any home garden.
Since cineraria seeds require light for germination, keep them uncovered on the journey back from the garden center or nursery. When growing indoors, sow seeds in the early autumn to see flowers spring up in time for Valentine's Day; aim for mid to late autumn if you prefer Easter-ready blooms.
Outdoors, aim for a March-April sowing schedule. Seeds germinate in just 8 to 10 days, so you'll start spotting bright blossoms in no time.
Cineraria plants grow best in rich, acidic soil with robust moisture retention and drainage. High compost content can significantly bolster their growth, so experts lean toward a peat moss-based potting mix; you can also incorporate peat moss, eggshells, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and tea bags into the soil for a more nutrient-rich mix.
Start out with smaller pots and transplant seedlings into larger ones as they grow. Beginning with the original nursery-sized pot is just fine, but after four weeks, a 2 1/2-to-three-inch pot encourages the roots to spread out.
Cinerias thrive in indirect sunlight, so too much intensity isn't ideal. Whether grown indoors or outdoors, this shade lover does best in spaces that receive just enough rays to sufficiently flower.
While plants can remain in direct sunlight when rays aren't as intense, move them toward the shade once scorching summer afternoons become more common. Indoors, this means a north or east-facing window. Since overheating can scorch or potentially kill off fresh flowers and leaves, keep an eye on sunlight levels throughout the growing season.
Constant moisture is a must-have for proper growth, so watering frequently is a necessary aspect of care. Water regularly each day, especially during summer, and check the soil to ensure it remains sufficiently moist without becoming too soggy. Excessive moisture results in root rot, so empty any excess water from the pot's saucer to keep your cinerarias from resting in standing water.
Temperature is a key ingredient toward healthy plant growth, and cinerarias are exacting in this regard. 50 to 65 degrees is the preferred growing range; anything above or below this could have devastating results. 35 degrees is a death sentence for cinerarias, while 80 degrees puts an instant halt to the blooming process.
Shade plays a pivotal role here as well; when temperatures climb too high, bring plants indoors to prevent damage. An evenly humid environment is ideal for plants to grow and stay strong.
Since the hardiness zone is pivotal to proper growth, knowing where to grow cineraria plants is key. These vibrant blooms blossom best in zones 9, 10, and 11 — warmer areas that cover the southern half of the U.S., including Arizona, California, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and other states along the coast and within the deep south region.
In these environments, cinerarias grow as annuals and will bloom the majority of the year. Outside of these zones, however, they only grow as perennials that are unable to withstand the frost. If grown indoors, keep temperatures even by keeping plants away from heating or cooling vents.
While pruning isn't necessary for smaller cinerarias, larger garden varieties should be cut back by one-third to maintain a healthy level of growth from season to season.
Routine deadheading promotes robust reseeding and encourages new buds to come in strong, and a 14-14-14 controlled-release fertilizer is an excellent way to supply cinerarias with the nutrients they need throughout the growing season.
Whether your cineraria plants grow as annuals or perennials depends entirely on the hardiness zone. If you're growing them in the recommended zones of 9-11, they can remain outdoors all year, and with even moisture and routine deadheading, you'll notice striking blooms appear from early spring through the end of summer. Growing outside of these zones, however, you'll need to transplant these flowers indoors; cinerarias are not frost-hardy and will die if they're left in cold, moist conditions.
Cineraria can be grown from seed easily in the correct growing zone, and you don't have to put much work in; they often reseed themselves automatically! In colder zones, however, you'll need to propagate cuttings during summer and bring plants indoors to continue the growing process.
Take caution, however; while this is doable, cut cinerarias usually do not flourish as well as those naturally grown from seed.
Cineraria plants are prone to an array of diseases, including bacterial crown gall and Southern wilt. Common fungal diseases include Alternaria leaf spot, black roof rot, Botrytis blight, downy mildew, powdery mildew, Fusarium root, and crown rot.
To prevent all of the above, proper heat, ventilation, and moisture levels are key. Water at the plant base to keep the leaf surface dry, maintain even humidity levels, and apply fungicide to protect healthy plants. If you notice any leaf spotting, immediately remove the infected leaves.
Sucking pests are prevalent predators of cineraria, with aphids, whiteflies, and mites being the most common. You'll find the majority of these pesky invaders around the axils and undersides of the leaves, so keep an eye out for larvae.
Spray insecticidal soap directly on trouble areas to wipe out most intruders. Mites are more difficult to remove, however; you'll need neem oil or Mite-X to successfully scare them off. If pests damage leaves, remove those parts of the plant entirely to prevent diseases from spreading.
These bold blossoms are sure to attract attention anywhere, so whether you display them indoors or out, they'll make an excellent addition. Serving as a splashy backdrop for other colorful blooms, use cinararia's shade-loving properties to your advantage and situate them in the corners, shaded indoor greenhouses, or any interior space that doesn't offer direct sunlight.
When growing indoors, additional measures are often required to keep humidity levels even. Indoor heating and cooling systems suck moisture out of the air, so implement a simple solution such as a humidifier or pebble tray to better mimic outdoor growing conditions.
The easiest way to do this is by spreading a layer of pebbles beneath the pot, filling it with water about a half-inch deep, and refilling it daily to retain sufficient moisture levels.
The family Asteraceae has over 32,000 member species, and the cineraria is just one of them. Related plants include colorful chrysanthemums, daisies, dahlias, helenium, marigolds, sunflowers, yarrow, and zinnias.
Members of the Asteraceae family are highly useful around the world, used for decoration as well as utilitarian purposes in cooking oils, herbal teas, and sweetening agents.
The cineraria is not a single plant, but a group of flowering beauties that contains 36 unique cultivars and varieties. Each variety features unique colors, but the daisy-like blooms and care instructions remain similar regardless of type.
While some varieties grow to just a foot tall, others can reach over as much as 10 feet wide.