Master Gardener: Cineraria – what is that?

June 27, 2022

This past Valentine’s Day I received a strikingly beautiful potted plant called Cineraria. The daisy like flowers had black centers and white petals with vibrant purple tips. I had never seen anything quite like it and thought it was worth an article. This plant was grown at the nurseries in Millstadt and sold at a local grocery store. In my research, I found that Cineraria (Pericallis cruenta) are native to the Canary Islands and are hardy in USDA zones 9-11, so not hardy in our area zone 5-6. Cineraria plants originally had greyish green foliage, which was considered undesirable, and therefore various hybrids were created that now have lush green leaves. The plant I received reminded me of Chrysanthemums and was similar in size, however, there are varieties that can reach a height of up to five feet.

Typical blooming period of Cineraria is between February and April and therefore considered a good plant for Valentine’s Day. Mine did bloom for a couple months and the plan was to later plant it outside. I should have done my research first as the Cineraria plant is considered a houseplant and does not like direct sunlight which is unusual for flowering plants. It may be planted outside when frost is no longer a danger, but it must be placed in the shade. The soil should be well drained and moist, but not soggy.

It also cannot thrive in dry conditions unlike other plants that can withstand a bout of drought. If you decide to keep it inside, it also needs humidity which is difficult to regulate. Spraying the plant will help but be careful not to overdo. You might try making a pebble tray by spreading a layer of pebbles or gravel and sitting the pot of the Cineraria on it. By keeping the pebbles wet, the evaporation will add to the humidity, but make sure the pot sets on top of the pebbles and not in water as this will over water the plant and cause the roots to die.

As I said earlier, I should have researched this plant before I assumed I knew what it needed as my plant did not survive. I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me they “kill everything or they don’t have a green thumb.” Gardening is trial and error. If something doesn’t work the first time, try again. As Master Gardeners, we are learning new things every day and are willing to help you along your journey to success. If you would like more information on problems, you might be experiencing, contact a Master Gardener or your local University of Illinois Extension Office.

Pictured above is the Cineraria houseplant.

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