Sinningia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower)

Sinningia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower)

Scientific Name

Sinningia cardinalis (Lehm.) H.E.Moore

Common Names

Cardinal Flower


Gesneria cardinalis (basionym), Corytholoma cardinale, Dircaea cardinalis, Dircaea lobulata, Gesneria lateritia, Gesneria macrantha, Rechsteineria cardinalis

Scientific Classification

Family: Gesneriaceae
Genus: Sinningia


Sinningia cardinalis is a beautiful plant with a round basal caudex and velvety, bright-green leaves that sprout from it in spring on pale green stems up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall. It has a period of dormancy after growth and flowering. Flowers are brilliant orange-red, hooded, up to 2 inches (5 cm) long and can appear multiple times from late winter to mid summer.


USDA hardiness zones 11a to 11b: from 40 °F (+4.4 °C) to 45 °F (+7.2 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Sinningias grow from tubers, so there is seasonality to them. When the plant is actively growing, keep it lightly moist. When the foliage dies back, just mist the soil regularly to keep the tubers from drying out too much. Start your normal watering when new leaves start to show. As with most plants, Sinningias can survive a short drought, but they do not recover from drowning. Use tepid water when watering. Nobody enjoys a cold shower. Water the soil, not the plant. Sinningias are prone to crown rot and gray mold which happens when the leaves stay wet. Do not let the plant sit in water, it must be well drained.

These are shade plants. They have the same light requirements as an African Violet. Morning or soft late afternoon light is best. That means an East, shaded West, or North-facing window. By all means, avoid direct sun during the harsh "skin cancer" hours of the day.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Sinningia.


Sinningia cardinalis is native to Brazil.


  • Back to genus Sinningia
  • Succulentopedia: Browse succulents by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, Origin, or cacti by Genus

Photo Gallery

Subscribe now and be up to date with our latest news and updates.

Sinningia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower) - garden

Origin and Habitat: Brazil, Rio de Janeiro.

  • Sinningia cardinalis (Lehm.) H.E.Moore
    • Corytholoma cardinale (Lehm.) Fritsch
    • Dircaea cardinalis (Lehm.) Regel
    • Gesneria cardinalis Lehm.
    • Rechsteineria cardinalis (Lehm.) Kuntze

Description: It is a compact plant with green velvety leaves and a silvery hair-covering on whole parts. It grows from tubers and has a period of dormancy after growth and flowering. This species can grow fairly large, with many brilliant red hooded flowers produced at one time
Tuber (Caudex): Rounded often depressed-globose, 6 (or more) cm in diameter with light brown bark. Seedling forms a tuber at the base of the stem very early in its development. When the tuber first forms, it is green, and only turns brown as it develops.
Stems: Ascending less than 30 cm tall from the tuber, pale green and tomentose.
Leaves: About 4-5 pairs per stem, decussate, broad, ovate to heart-shaped up 5-20 cm long and 4-15 cm wide, upper face apple-green to emerald-green with dark green about the veins, lower face paler, soft velvety, covered with dense short silvery hairys, margin crenate. Petioles 1-6 cm long green or reddish.
Flowers: One to several in terminal clusters on short peduncles in axils of upper leaves, about 5 cm long tubular, bright red, calyx lobes reflexed at the apex with the upper two corolla lobes prominently extended and much longer than the lower three lobes, presumably to assist in transfer of pollen to the head of the hummingbird and corolla tube laterally compressed. Pedicel 2-5 cm long with red hair-covering. Filaments up to 6 cm long, red and hairy-velvety, anthers coherent in a disc, style up to 6 cm long pinkish slightly exserted.
Blooming season. Flowers several times a year mainly in late summer and autumn.
Fruit: Ovoidal capsules with persistent style.

Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Chautems, A. 1991. “Taxonomic revision of Sinningia Nees (Gesneriaceae) II. New species from Brazil.” Candollea 46:411-425
2) Maxwell. H.S. 2000. “Sinningia. in European Garden Flora” 6: 378-379.
3) Moore, H.E. 1973. “Comments of cultivated Gesneriaceae.” Baileya 19: 35-41.
4) A. B. Graf “Tropica: Color Cyclopedia of Exotic Plants and Trees from the Tropics and Subtropics” Roehrs, 1978
5) Fritz Encke, Alfred Fessler “Kalt- und Warmhauspflanzen: Arten, Herkunft, Pflege und Vermehrung : ein Handbuch für Liebhaber und Fachleute” Eugen Ulmer, 1987
6) James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees, H. Suzanne Cubey “The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants: A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass” Cambridge University Press, 11/Aug/2011
7) D. J. Mabberley “Mabberley's Plant-book: A Portable Dictionary of Plants, Their Classifications, and Uses” Cambridge University Press, 01/May/2008

Sinningia cardinalis Photo by: Valentino Vallicelli
Sinningia cardinalis Photo by: Sándor Horváth

Cultivation and Propagation: Sinningia cardinalis has a dormant period after flowering (winter rest) and comes into growth in early spring. After a period of dormancy the tuber will send up new growth and the cycle will repeat. Some cultivars can be induced to remain in almost perpetual growth, with no period of full dormancy. Others may go dormant, and never "break dormancy", or begin new growth. But most plants will produce new and better growth after a period of dormant inactivity.
Soil: Use a lime free soil that retains water yet drains well with a little added pumice will suffice.
Pots: Always use a pot with a hole and provide a good drainage.
Watering: Drench the soil and let it become moderately dry between waterings when it is in growth and during the winter or dormant season must be kept very much on the dry side. Perpetually wet soil may result in rotting of the tuber, while dry conditions will usually induce premature dormancy.
Fertilization:: Needa a regular light fertilization during growing season including all micro nutrients and trace elements or slow release fertilizer at the rate of 1/4 the dose indicated in the label. However some of the more robust cultivars will respond favourably to a more concentrated solution, and some of the smaller cultivars need very little feeding.
Exposures: It requires bright conditions, but not sun and can be grown eventually under bright fluorescent lights or in a greenhouse and many tolerate windowsill conditions if humidity can be kept up and bright light provided without too much direct sun.
Pest & diseases: Prone to mealy bugs. Always inspect any new plant for pests before introducing it to your home or greenhouse.

Plants→Sinningia→Gloxinia (Sinningia cardinalis)

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Life cycle:Perennial
Sun Requirements:Full Shade
Minimum cold hardiness:Zone 10b +1.7 °C (35 °F) to +4.4 °C (40 °F)
Maximum recommended zone:Zone 11
Plant Height :8-12 inches
Flower Color:Red
Bloom Size:1"-2"
Underground structures:Tuber
Suitable Locations:Terrariums

Times are presented in US Central Standard Time

Today's site banner is by dirtdorphins and is called "muscari"

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Sinningia cardinalis

Sinningia cardinalis is related to the African Violets and Gloxinias. It looks super tender but is hardier than that. The Cardinal Flower can has slender 2" brilliant red flowers from late Winter through to mid summer. Sinningia cardinalis does best with good drainage and a shady protected spot in the garden. The Cardinal Flower can withstand some sun, particularly closer to the coast. The woody caudex stores up for tough times. The large leaves are almost succulent and fuzzy. Sinningia cardinalis is vulnerable to even a light frost. The plants are often brought indoors for the winter.

Brilliant red flowers of Sinningia cardinalis Cardinal Flower. High resolution photos are part of our garden image collection.

Questions or comments about this website
Copyright В© 1999 California Gardens
Last modified: January 27, 2021

Watch the video: How to Grow Blue Lobelia and Cardinal Flower from seed lobelia cardinalis, lobelia siphilitica