Salpiglossis is an annual plant that puts out the most beautiful USDA Zones 6-11. However, if you start them from seeds and wait for the last frost date in Spring, you may be able to plant them in Alaska.

Scientific Name
Salpiglossis sinuata, S. atropurpurea, S.coccinea, S. purpurea
Common Name
Painted Tongue Plant
USDA hardiness zones 6-11 for half-hardy annuals
Water only when top 2 inches of soil is dry.
In warmer climates, full sun or filtered shade
Moist soil. PH 6.1-7.5 (mildly acidic or neutral).
Petunia-trumpet shape, reddish orange, mahogany. Sometimes yellow, purple. They bloom from the summer until the first frost.
Growing Difficulty
Easy to grow and low-maintenance. You must start indoors.


Salpiglossis flowers are unique.

They look like petunias in that they have a trumpet-shaped shape.

The petals are velvety in texture.

Many flowers have multiple colors. The main flower has a different shade or color than the internal veins.

You may even find plants with multiple colored flowers.

These flowers make stunning cut flowers that can be used to decorate outside areas.

Appearance and Characteristics

The plants are 12-18 inches tall.

The leaves have a serrated appearance with green surfaces and occasionally lighter veins.

Salpiglossis Sinuata has very unusual flowers, in the form of a trumpet, petunia or reddish-orange. They come in many colors, including blue to purple, purple to purple and purple to lavender, yellow, and white.

The flowers often look stained glass because of the contrasting vein patterns in their internals.

The petals are velvety in texture.

The Painted Tongue flowers don’t have a scent.

The Salpiglossis Surata flowers are attractive to bees and butterflies, but they might not see the same colors as humans.

The Bees can see the color of flowers using ultraviolet light.

The female bees pollinate 80 percent of the insect crop. Any patterns on flowers can’t be seen by humans.

Guide to Planting

Three ways to plant Salpiglossis Sintata plants are available.

You can direct seed when there is no frost risk, self-start your seeds indoors for a head start or if you live somewhere cooler, buy seedlings from the nursery.

Direct Seeding

Direct seeding requires that you prepare your soil and place the seeds 1/4 inch below the surface.

Because germination can be affected by light, cover the seeds. You should water your seedlings gently.

The soil must be well-drained. Seeds germinate between 14-30 days.

You should sow your seed at least nine to twelve inches apart.

Transplants in the Nursery

Transplants can be purchased at the nursery or plants in early spring.

Before you plant your seeds in the ground, keep them moist. (see below)

You don’t want to damage the root system by being gentle with transplants.

Pre Planting Indoors

Salpiglossis Sinuata seeds can be also planted indoors in individual starter pots eight to ten weeks before the last frost, when they will be ready for planting outdoors in early spring. These are some helpful steps:

  1. Place the seeds 1/4 inch below the surface, and cover with a light covering. Keep the temperature at 70-75 degrees F. Cover the seeds lightly. Salpiglossis Sintata requires darkness in order to germinate. The seeds will germinate in a week to 14 day.
  2. When the seedlings have tiny leaves, place them in the light. Fluorescent grow lights can be used. The plants should be placed three to four inches below the light source ( notice: incandescent too hot).
  3. Allow them to be exposed to sunlight for no more than 16 hours per day. As needed, water them.
  4. You may need to transplant seedlings into three- to four-inch pots if you’re using cells. Seedlings should have at least two leaves to ensure they have enough root system to be able to go outside.
  5. The soil should be well-drained and keep the plants moist, but not soggy. To encourage bushier plants, pinch off the tips of each stem.
  6. When they are bigger and stronger than when you planted them outdoors, you can place them indoors in a sunny spot, such as near a window.

Hardening off

It doesn’t matter if your seedlings were purchased at a nursery or started at home before being planted in the ground.

Place young seedlings in a sunny, wind-protected area outdoors to help them become more comfortable.

Indoor plants cannot be exposed to direct sunlight or wind. Be patient and gentle when you take your indoor plants out.

It is a good idea to place them along the sides of your house or under a shaded roof.

Your plants should be exposed to direct sunlight gradually. You can start with one hour in direct sunlight on the first day. Gradually increase this time by increasing the hourly or bi-hourly intervals until your plants are able to handle full sun and wind. Put your seedlings back in the shade if they start to wilt.

This is called “hardening off”. It protects seedlings against sunburn and shock.

Planting in the Ground

Once they are fully acclimated to sunlight, plant seedlings in a grid 9-12 inches apart. Or in individual containers.

Preparing the soil: Remove weeds, turn it to six to twelve inches deep and add some organic matter.

A light mulch layer should be applied around the seedlings to a depth not exceeding two inches.

This will help to retain moisture and discourage weed growth.

Keep watering your plants until they become established. Salpiglossis Sinuata is drought-tolerant. Water only when the top 2 inches is dry.

However, this does not mean that they do not need water.

During the growing season, water about 1 inch per week.

Ensure they get enough water during dry spells.

As needed, shave.

The plants need water and nutrients, which weeds can compete with.


To ensure continued blooms, it is recommended that fertilize bi-monthly

Deadhead flowers when your plants begin to bloom.

What is Deadheading?

Deadheading flowers is the process of removing the flower’s spent blooms.

After the flowers have been pollinated, the seeds pods or capsules are formed at the expense and growth of the next generation.

Instead of spending energy on flowering, the plant puts energy into seed production.

Flowers can be preserved by deadheading.

You can continue flower production by deadheading flowers.

Reduce the rate at which plants flower, and pinch or cut the stems just below the withered flowers.

Do the same for all dead flowers.

You can make it a habit to deadhead your garden regularly, making the job easier and more enjoyable.


Salpiglossis plants can withstand drought. They only need to be watered when the top 2 inches of the soil are dry. During the growing season, they require about 1 inch of water per week.

Ensure they get watered more in dry periods. They require well-drained soil and should not be overwatered.

Some people prefer to use a drip or trickle system that delivers low-pressure water to their plants.

Please Note: When you use an overhead sprinkler system for watering, ensure that you water the plants early to allow the leaves to dry before it gets cooler.


The Painted Tongue plant loves sun and filtered shade, particularly if they live in warmer climates.

They prefer cool nights at 50 degrees F.

Seed collection

Let the seeds dry on the plant.

Break open the pods and collect the seeds. Label the envelope and place them in a dry, dark place.

Pruning and Propagation

Pruning the tips of young plants can encourage bushier, more compact growth.

Problems, Diseases, and Pests

You should keep an eye on your plants for pests and diseases.

You can check with your local Cooperative Extension Service.

Salpiglossis is almost pest-free

Verticillium-Salpiglossis sinuata is susceptible to Verticillium wilt; a small plant can die suddenly.

Avoid planting the same spot each year.

Root Rot

Many pathogens, fungi and viruses can cause damage to the roots of plants.

Rotate your plants and crops regularly to prevent this. Also, get rid of diseased plants. Don’t put them in the compost bin.


These pests can do a lot to the fruit and leaves of plants.

You can spray the plants with a mixture of dish soap and water, or water-alcohol/dish soap.

You can also find stronger insecticide soaps at your nursery, or online, if dish soap is not effective.

Not to be eaten: Some parts of the plant can be poisonous.


What’s the difference between pruning and deadheading?

Pruning refers to the removal of any part of a plant (stems or leaves, branches, etc.) in order to encourage new growth.

Pruning is a way to make space and to remove older stems in order to encourage the growth of new growth.

Deadheading is the only way to remove flowers. This allows the plant to keep producing more flowers while consuming less energy. Both are good for growth.

From where are they?

They were originally from the Andes Mountains in Chile and were brought to the USA around 1824.

Salpiglossis is a combination of the Greek words “Trumpet”, and “tongue”.