Cinerarias – Nothing Short of Spectacular

There are not many annuals that bloom through cold weather, and that bloom better the colder it gets. Cinerarias (Senecio cruentus) are one of these, and although they is a short-lived annuals they delivers spectacular flowers during the coldest months in winter, then have the good sense to die off so that you can plant new annuals for spring.

The flowers resemble daisies, and the petals often have a white inner ring that contrasts with the outer blue, magenta, pink, rose, burgundy or violet petals. They flower so densely that it is almost impossible to count the number of flowers that are carried, bouquet like, above the large, dark green leaves. This has earned it the name ‘florist’s cineraria’. Where to use cineraria Plants are low growing, 20 – 25cm high and wide, and form mounds of flowers. This makes them suitable for pathway or bedding edges, planted en masse in a partially shady area that needs to be brightened and lightened, as a border for spring bulbs, and as high-impact container plants. They are also popular indoor flowering plants, because of the range of colours.

How to grow cinerarias

  • As garden plants, cinerarias need light, bright shade, perhaps even some morning sun, and fertile soil that drains well.
  • When preparing the bed, add organics like peanut shells, milled bark or coarse compost for good aeration and drainage. Also mix granular fertiliser (3:1:5 or 5:1:5) into the soil before planting.
  • Although they like the cold, cinerarias are not frost tolerant. If frost is forecast protect the blooms and leaves with frost cloth because they will be burnt.
  • Water regularly as plants like moist but not saturated soil, and don’t allow the soil to dry out completely. Because the flowers are so dense, water as early as possible in the day so that the leaves and flowers can dry before evening. This prevents diseases like downy mildew.
  • Protect the roots with a mulch of pine needles, bark chips or nutshells.
  • Under-fertilising is one of the main reasons for poor flowering. In addition to the initial fertilising with the soil preparation, feed twice more during the season with a granular fertiliser or with a liquid fertiliser once a week.
  • Cut off dead flowers to encourage new flowers.
  • Indoors, plants like a cool room and flower best in bright, indirect light but not in direct sunlight. Keep the potting soil moist and feed with a liquid fertiliser once every two weeks. Keep out of draughts as this can cause wilting and yellow leaves.
The Gardener