Salpiglossis flowers

Attractive, exotic looking plants from South America with elegant brightly coloured flowers. These delicate, frost tender plants are usually grown as an ornamental annual or houseplant in the UK.

Family: Solanaceae (Potato family)
Botanical Name: Salpiglossis
Common Names: Painted tongue, scalloped tube tongue, velvet trumpet flower.

Foliage: Deciduous, simple, pale green narrow leaves.

Flowers: Pretty funnel-shaped flowers on tall stems. Available in various colours: white, red, pink, orange, gold, yellow, blue or bicolour. The flowers usually have a velvety sheen with yellow throats and prominent dark veins along the petals.

Flowering Period: July-September.

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

Conditions: Full sun. Best grown in a west or south facing aspect, in a sheltered location.

Habit: Upright, bushy.

Type: Half-hardy Annual.

Origin: South America (Mexico, Argentina and Chile)

Hardiness: Tender in the UK. Protect from frost.

Planting and Growing Salpiglossis

Painted tongue is not fully reliable or as easy to grow in the UK as some of the more popular annuals, but they are worth the effort if you’re looking for something different. A long warm summer is necessary for the best flowers. Not suitable for cold exposed sites.

Plant in a well-drained, rich soil and a warm sunny position. Shelter from strong winds and protect from long wet or excessively dry periods.

Ideal for pots or patio containers, in a sheltered sunny corner. They also make good pot plants in a cool well lit room or greenhouse.

Cut flowers last reasonably well in water.

Taking Care of Salpiglossis

Water regularly during dry weather and water container grown plants daily.

Pinch out the tips of young plants to promote bushiness.

Support stems in exposed sites with twiggy sticks.

To improve flowering, apply an all-purpose flowering plant food (slightly higher in phosphorus and potassium) every few weeks, or use a slow release form.


Deadhead regularly to extend the flowering period.

Pests and Diseases

Can be affected by grey moulds and root rot.

Propagating Salpiglossis

Sow seeds under-glass in trays of seed compost at the end of March. Prick out and pot up seedlings once large enough to handle. Harden-off and plant out in early June, once all danger of frost has past in your area.

In mild regions they can be sown directly in late April to early May, in a well prepared sunny, sheltered site. Thin seedlings to 10in (25cm) apart.

Popular Varieties of Salpiglossis

Most garden cultivars are based on the species S. sinuata. A variety of good forms are available with varying height and flower colour.

Salpiglossis sinuata (velvet trumpet flower) is the main garden species. Height 18 to 24in (45-60cm), spread 1ft (30cm). Cultivars include:

  • 'Bolero' large colourful blooms
  • 'Black Trumpets' deep burgundy, almost black trumpet blooms, attractively veined. Plants are dwarf, bushy and free flowering. For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
  • 'Casino Mixed' (F1 Hybrid) mixed colours with heavily veined flowers. Compact habit. Ideal cut flower. Height: 18-24in (45-60cm). For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
  • 'Royale Series' broadly funnel-shaped, lobed, veined and often bicoloured flowers in summer, in shades of pink, red, yellow and orange. For sale at Crocus.
  • 'Royale Mixed' trumpet flowers on upright, bushy plants. Height 2ft (60cm). For sale at Van Meuwen.
  • 'Splash' a compact, early flowering, form with a good colour range.
  • 'Tongue Twisters' velvety trumpet blooms etched with golden yellow. For sale at Van Meuwen.