Sal, like in Sally; -pi, like in pin; -GLOSS, like in floss; then -is like in sister. Sal-pi-GLOSS-is. Or in English: Painted Tongue. If I had heard the name first, I don’t think I would have been interested. Sounds like a questionable cultural practice. But several years ago, my parents came back from Buchart Garden and brought me some seeds.
The flowers remind me more of stained glass. The seeds produce a variety of colors, all with areas of dark and light, set off by a pattern of lines that remind me of patterns in a kaleidoscope. They are just thin enough for a good back light near sunset to filter through, giving the petals an even greater vibrance.
I start the seeds in late winter in my greenhouse. They are very cooperative about sprouting and non-fussy about growing. They stay as a rosette of leaves for quite some time, growing in this shape to expand their leaf size more horizontally. This makes them easy to keep under grow lights.
Like with any flower that I want to be able to grow before seeds hit the local stores, I order these seeds online. My source last year was Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
In my growing experience in Southwest Idaho, the rosette of leaves never gets much wider than 5 inches in diameter. Then, the flower stalk shoots straight up about 2 feet. This makes the plant a bit gangly and subject to wind damage. The petunias that I planted alternately around the perimeter of the pot with the Salpiglossis provide some support, but the Salpiglossis would probably benefit from something more reliable.
Common plant information says that Salpiglossis fades in the heat, but it depends on where you plant it and how much you water it. It doesn’t handle all-day-until-9 PM-on-a-summer-night full exposure to the sun, however the plants I have on my patio and near the fire brick oven get unfiltered sun from about 8 AM until about 3 PM. This year, after already a solid month of blistering temperatures, my plants are still happily blooming. They might not make it all the way through August, but it has been worth it to have them through July.