DESCRIPTION: These are herbaceous perennials that are often grown as annuals. There are three basic types: the large-flowered; the stellata or Star-flowered; the intermediate, with flowers similar to the stellata and having the compact growth of the large-flowered; and the dwarf intermediate strain, growing 1-foot tall and having a compact, free-flowering growth. They all come in a wide range of colors. There are two main types of the tall, small-flowered Cinerarias. The most popular is the Star-flowered, which produces an abundance of small flowers in blue, pink, salmon, white and other hues. The Cactus-flowered Cinerarias are similar to the Star-flowered, except they have slender, quill-like petals. Cineraria maritima (This plant is more correctly named, Senecio maritima) is grown for its beautiful, deeply cut, silvery foliage. They are great for summer flowerbeds. The large-flowered Cinerarias come in a brilliant array of colors. Mixed seeds of a good strain will provide flowers in blue, purple, rose, pink and other gorgeous colors, many having noticeable white sections.
POTTING: To successfully cultivate these plants you need to provide a cool, humid atmosphere. The best place for them during the summer is a cold frame that faces north or a shaded greenhouse. The frame should be partially filled with ashes, which will provide a cool, moist bed for the plants. When it's raining hard, the sash or frame should be lowered, but not completely closed. At all other times it should be kept open. Sprits the plants often during hot, dry weather. Make sure the plants aren't crowded, as this will cause the lower leaves to drop. Don't over water them, especially a few weeks following repotting; this can cause them to rot at the base. Cinerarias may stay in the cold frame until severe frost threats. Throughout the winter, the cooler these plants are kept the better. A minimum temperature of 40-45 degrees is high enough. If the greenhouse is too warm and humid, rather than cool, they will most likely become infested with aphids, which will eliminate the rich, green coloring that characterizes the foliage of healthy plants. A temperature of 50 degrees is suitable for plants that have developing flower buds.
PROPAGATION: Seeds should be sown in May and again in August and September to provide a succession of blooming plants. They should be sown in pans filled with finely sifted soil, which should be watered before the small seeds are sprinkled about. After sowing, cover the pans with glass and provide shade. If water is needed before the seeds have sprouted, immerse the pan almost to the rim in water. The pans should be placed in a cool, shady greenhouse. When the baby plants are large enough to safely handle (about an inch high), pot them individually in small pots filled with equal parts of loam and leaf mold with a bit of sand added. When they have a sufficient root system, repot them into pots, 31/2 to 4 inches in diameter, that are filled with two-thirds fibrous loam and one-third leaf mold. They can stay in these until late October, for early sown plants, and November or December for others, when they must be repotted into the final 6- to 8-inch wide pots. They should have the same compost as when they were potted in the 31/2- or 4-inch pots, except some decayed manure should be added.
VARIETIES: Star-flowered; Cactus-flowered; Large-flowered; C. maritima (correctly Senecio maritima).
Go see DICTIONARY OF BOTANICAL NAMES.
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