Cineraria, also commonly known as the “first flower of the spring,” is a tender perennial flowering plant belonging to the Pericallis genus and from the Asteraceae family, also referred to as the aster, composite, daisy, or sunflower family.
Cineraria is a hybrid plant of two Pericallis species, namely Pericallis cruenta and Pericallis lanata, which are native to the Canary Islands and the Azores, Madeira.
The parents of the mounding perennial Cineraria grow abundantly on the cool ocean cliffs.
The genus name Pericallis originated from the Greek word “peri,” meaning around, and the word “kallos,” which means beauty.
Cineraria plants are showy, tender perennials producing dramatic clusters of daisy-like flowers that come in a wide range of vibrant colors with broadly lance-shaped leaves.
Cineraria is also known by its common names, including:
- Cineraria Cruentas
- Cineraria x Hybrida
- Common Ragwort
- Florist’s Cineraria
- Pericallis X Hybrida (per-ee-KAL-liss hy-BRID-uh)
- Senecio Cruentas
- Senecio x Hybridus (Senecio X hybrida)
In addition, Cineraria was first developed in 1777 by the British Royal Gardens, and was widely cultivated with over 51 accepted “varieties.”
Examples of accepted Cineraria “varieties” include:
- Cineraria abyssinica
- Cineraria anampoza
- Cineraria canescens
- Cineraria decipiens
- Cineraria erosa
- Cineraria glandulosa
- Cineraria hederifolia
- Cineraria lyratiformis
- Cineraria multiflora
- Cineraria pulchra
- Cineraria saxifraga
Moreover, the epithet Cineraria means “ash gray,” referencing the gray lines underneath the green leaves of the Senecio variety strains. In some countries, Cineraria plants are called “ashplants.”
Quick Facts On Cineraria
- Family: Asteraceae
- Light: Partial shade; Filtered sunlight
- Temperature: 50° to 65° degrees Fahrenheit
- Water: Moderate watering; Moist, well-drained soil
- Fertilizer: Half-strength Balanced Fertilizer
- Propagation: Through seeds or leaf cuttings
- Common Problems: Aphids, Mildew, Root rot
How Big Does Cineraria Grow?
Cineraria plants commonly reach about 6″ to 15″ inches tall and 9″ 12″ inches wide. Some varieties may even grow a lofty height of up to 60″ inches.
In addition, Cineraria plants have a medium growth rate, reaching maturity in 1 to 2 years.
When Does Cineraria Flower? Are The Flowers Fragrant?
Cineraria is prized for its gorgeous and long-lasting clusters of daisy-like flowers that come in various vibrant shades of blue, pink, purple/lavender, red/burgundy, white, and many-bicolors.
It also often has a white garland, also called white eye, around the center of the flower.
Each flower has 7 to 20 petals or rays, often measuring up to 1″ to 5″ inches in diameter, and stands on tall, smooth stems above the lush foliage of large, bright, lance-shaped green leaves.
Cineraria is a seasonal bloomer. It typically blooms in the late winter or winter spring (February through April), hence the name, “first flower of spring.”
It continues to flower for up to 4 weeks, emitting a sweet and delicate fragrance.
What Are The Lighting Needs And Temperature Requirements?
Cineraria plants grow best in partial shade or filtered sunlight as they are quite sensitive to direct sunlight or hot temperatures that can cause their leaves to pale and halt their flowering period.
They thrive in cool temperatures, ideally with daytime temperatures between 50° and 65° degrees Fahrenheit in a north-facing window shaded by other companion plants. They also prefer nighttime temperatures between 50° to 55° degrees Fahrenheit.
Even though cineraria plants are sensitive to warmer conditions, they can still be exposed to direct sunlight but only for 2 to 6 hours on only part of the day.
Also, they do not tolerate temperatures below 35° degrees at night, as they will stop blooming. Nevertheless, when grown under great conditions, cineraria may continue to bloom for up to 3 weeks.
In addition, cineraria plants prefer moderate to high relative humidity, about 40% percent. They also grow best in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11.
How And When To Water And Fertilize Cineraria?
Cineraria plants need frequent watering, especially during the warmer and blooming seasons, but be careful not to waterlog or let them sit in standing water as it can cause crown and root rot diseases.
Ensure to water them well at the plant’s base, keeping the soil moist but not soggy.
As for the fertilizer, feed your cineraria plant with a half-strength balanced fertilizer every 2 weeks until after the flowering season.
What Is The Best Soil For Cineraria, And When Should You Transplant?
Cineraria plants are pretty picky when it comes to soil requirements. They thrive in rich, fertile soil with excellent drainage.
They also grow best in a well-balanced soil environment with high organic matter, such as compost, to ensure good drainage that holds enough moisture.
In addition, cineraria plants also prefer slightly acidic soil but may tolerate other soil types, such as sandy, chalky, loamy, or clay soil.
If you need to create good soil conditions, you may amend the soil with coffee grounds and peat moss.
For planting cineraria plants, remember to plant them in a standard potting mix with 12″ inches of space apart.
Does Cineraria Need Special Grooming Or Maintenance?
Cineraria plants are low-maintenance plants, and no grooming or maintenance is necessary, but you may deadhead the withered blooms and leaves to keep the cineraria plants tidy.
It will also encourage the cineraria plants to produce more flower buds and extend the blooming season.
How To Propagate Pericallis x Hybrida?
Pericallis x Hybrida plants may be propagated through 2 methods, namely:
- Stem cuttings
For seed propagation, you may do the following steps:
- Cut a 4″ to 6″ inches of stem tip cutting from a healthy plant using pruning shears or a sharp knife.
- Remove the leaves but keep the top leaves.
- Dip the end of the stem cutting in a rooting hormone.
- Plant the stem cuttings in a small pot filled with standard potting soil.
- Moisten the potting soil and place the planted stem cutting in a large plastic, ensuring the plastic does not come in contact with the leaves.
- Place the stem cuttings in a cool location with indirect sunlight.
- Check the planted stem cuttings periodically by tugging on the stem and feeling resistance.
- Once the roots have formed, remove the covered plastic bag.
Using the stem cutting propagation method allows the new pericallis x hybrida plants to flower within 3 months.
For the seed propagation method, do the following:
- Sow the seeds and plant them in flat trays or small pots with a commercial seed-starter mix.
- Press the seeds lightly into the soil.
- Do not cover them as the seeds need adequate light to germinate, usually taking 14 to 21 days.
- Remember to keep the seeds moist but never soggy.
- Check the seeds, and once they have developed true leaves, the plants can be repotted into individual pots.
Florist’s Cineraria Pests And Disease Problems
Florist’s Cineraria plants are susceptible to pests and diseases. Examples of pests include:
- Leaf miners
- Spider mites
- White Fly
Florist’s Cineraria plants are more prone to aphid infestation, hence why there are also referred to as “the aphid plant.”
The best way to treat an infestation is to discard infected plants to prevent their spread to other houseplants.
Using chemical pesticides or horticultural oil such as neem oil is another good treatment.
For diseases, Florist’s Cineraria are prone to the following:
- Crown rot
- Root rot
- Fungal rot
- Gray Mold
It is best to keep the proper humidity and moisture levels to prevent these diseases. Also, remember to keep the leaves dry at night because damp leaves may result in rotting.
Uses Of Florist’s Cineraria
Because of their lovely daisy-like flowers, Florist’s Cineraria plants make excellent houseplants.
They can also be used as annuals for garden beds to provide vibrant and lush colors to your outdoors.
Florist’s Cineraria plants also make beautiful container plants for window boxes, patios, decks, and borders.