Calceolaria

Calceolaria red flowers

A group of vigorous, free-flowering annuals, biennials and shrubby perennials. Usually grown as half-hardy annuals in the UK. Ideal for pots, containers and sunny sheltered flower beds. Loved for their long flowering season, although not as popular as they once were.

Family: Calceolariaceae
Botanical Name: Calceolaria
Common Names: Slipperwort, slipper flower, pocketbook plant, pouch flower.

Foliage: Mid-green leaves, forming a neat rosette.

Flowers: Brightly coloured pouch-shaped flowers, available in various shades of yellow, red or orange; either plain or blotched.

Flowering Period: Early summer until first frosts.

Soil: Moist but well drained, fertile soil (clay, sand or loam). Acid pH.

Conditions: Full sun or partial shade. Certain varieties will grow in full shade. Grow in an east or south facing aspect, in a sheltered position.

Habit: Bushy, compact.

Type: Half-hardy Annual.

Origin: Chile

Hardiness: Half-hardy in the UK. Protect from frost.

Planting and Growing Calceolaria

Grow in a light, acid soil, in full sun or partial shade.

Traditionally grown as a houseplant or greenhouse specimen. They can be grown outdoors as summer bedding or as container plants. They should be given a warm sheltered spot, ideally at the base of a south or west facing wall.

The flowers are borne in succession from early summer until the first frosts.

Shrubby perennial varieties can survive in the rock garden in milder regions of the UK.

Taking Care of Calceolaria

Do not over-water. Apply a weak liquid feed for flowering plants every few weeks, once the flower buds appear.

Pruning

Deadhead regularly to extend the flowering period.

Pests and Diseases

Susceptible to attack by slugs and snails. Aphids can affect young tender foliage. Root rot may occur in damp conditions.

Propagating Calceolaria

Lightly sow the tiny seeds in trays of compost under-glass in late winter. Gently prick out and pot on once large enough to handle. In late spring, harden off in a cold frame before planting outdoors.

For overwintered shrubby forms, take cuttings of vigorous young basal shoots in September and root in a propagator. Protect plants with cloches during cold winters, especially in the first year.

Popular Varieties of Calceolaria

Calceolaria 'Calynopsis' is a half-hardy Perennial that produces vibrant, orchid-like blooms, from mid spring through to mid-summer. Ideal for containers. Height to 8in (20cm). For sale at Thompson & Morgan. Available in a range of colours, including: cerise, yellow, red and orange.

Calceolaria darwinii is a slightly tender perennial with yellow orchid-like flowers, often spotted with brown. Height from 8-12in (20-30cm).

Calceolaria integrifolia (C. rugosa) is a tall garden plant producing an abundance of small yellow, orange, pink or scarlet pouched flowers, often with contrasting blotches. Cultivars include:

  • 'Midas' an early flowering form with golden-yellow flowers. Height to 18in (38cm).
  • 'Sunset' with yellow-red flowers.
  • 'Sunshine' a free-flowering form with bright yellow flowers. Height to 19in (25cm). One of the most popular yellow flowering bedding varieties.

Calceolaria 'Little Sweeties' a summer bedding mix that produces plants up to 15in (38cm) tall.

Calceolaria 'Sunset Mixed' suitable for the greenhouse or a bright sunny windowsill. A mix of sunny colours, including: copper-orange and red, rich-red, yellow and scarlet. Early sowing recommended. Height: 6-8in (15-20cm). For sale at Thompson & Morgan.