Painted Tongue

Painted Tongue
Plant Type
Sunlight Amount
Painted Tongue Salpiglossis sinuata
Painted Tongue Salpiglossis sinuata
Painted Tongue

A Chilean relative of the petunia, painted tongue demands attention with its spectacular trumpet-shape flowers in shades of magenta, deep violet, and gold. This easy-to-grow annual adds pockets of color to both gardens and container plantings. Thriving in moderate temperatures, painted tongue unfurls its flowers in spring and fall and ceases blooming during the heat of summer. But if provided ample water and some afternoon shade, painted tongue will debut bright blossoms in autumn when many plants are bedraggled from a long growing season.

genus name
  • Salpiglossis sinuata
  • Part Sun
  • Sun
plant type
  • 1 to 3 feet
  • 1 to 2 feet wide
flower color
foliage color
season features
special features
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
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  • 11

Planting Painted Tongue

Pair painted tongue with annuals that boast bold, colorful flowers for high-energy plant combinations: snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus), pansy (Viola x wittrockiana), and African daisy (Osteospermum). When building a container garden, consider painted tongue's summer siesta and pair it with annuals that provide plenty of high-heat interest. New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri), mandevilla, and geranium (Pelargonium spp.) bloom through summer and bridge the gap between painted tongue's spring and fall flowering seasons.

Painted Tongue Care

Painted tongue grows best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. In areas with hot summer temperatures, choose a planting place that receives afternoon shade. This relief from the hot sun will help painted tongue survive through summer and bloom again in fall.

Painted tongue is usually started from transplants purchased in early spring. Seeds can be started indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost date. Acclimate young seedlings by placing them in a protected location outside when plants are several inches tall. Bring them inside at night if there is a chance of frost.

Apply a 1- to 2-inch-thick layer of mulch around the base of plants shortly after planting to keep roots cool and prevent soil moisture loss. Remove spent flowers as time allows to encourage additional blooms. Stake tall plants with a bamboo stake and twine if needed.

New Innovations

Heirloom varieties that were lost from commerce for decades have been recently reintroduced to gardeners. Many are available by seed. For a successful planting, be sure to start seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost date.

More Varieties of Painted Tongue

'Casino Black' painted tongue

Salpiglossis 'Casino Black' offers rich, dark purple-red flowers in summer on compact, 2-foot-tall plants.

'Kew Blue' painted tongue

This variety offers rich and velvety, blue-purple flowers in summer. It grows 3 feet tall.

Plant Painted Tongue With:

Flowering Kale, Brassica oleracea
  • light: Part Sun, Sun
  • foliage color: Purple/Burgundy
  • plant type: Annual
  • height: 1 to 3 feet
  • season features: Colorful Fall Foliage
  • special features: Low Maintenance, Good for Containers

Thank goodness for kale. It's one of the few plants available to add a fresh burst of color and life to the fall landscape! Its leaves come with beautiful variegations in pinks, purples, and reds that blend beautifully with changing autumn foliage. Plant it in spring or in the fall after you tear out tired or frost-damaged annuals such as marigolds and impatiens. It likes rich, well-drained but moist soil.Shown above: 'Red Pigeon' flowering kale

From tiny, cheerful Johnny jump-ups to the stunning 3-inch blooms of Majestic Giant pansies, the genus Viola has a spectacular array of delightful plants for the spring garden. They're must-haves to celebrate the first days of spring since they don't mind cold weather and can even take a little snow and ice!They're pretty planted in masses in the ground, but also cherished for the early color they bring to pots, window boxes, and other containers. By summer, pansies bloom less and their foliage starts to brown. It's at this time that you'll have to be tough and tear them out and replant with warm-season annuals, such as marigolds or petunias. But that's part of their charm -- they are an ephemeral celebration of spring!

Few gardens should be without the easy charm of snapdragons. They get their name from the fact that you can gently squeeze the sides of the intricately shaped flower and see the jaws of a dragon head snap closed. The blooms come in gorgeous colors, including some with beautiful color variations on each flower. Plus, snapdragons are an outstanding cut flower. Gather a dozen or more in a small vase and you'll have one of the prettiest bouquets around.Snapdragons are especially useful because they're a cool-season annual, coming into their own in early spring when the warm-season annuals, such as marigolds and impatiens, are just being planted. They're also great for fall color.Plant snapdragon in early spring, a few weeks before your region's last frost date. Deadhead regularly for best bloom and fertilize regularly. Snapdragons often self-seed in the landscape if not deadheaded, so they come back year after year, though the colors from hybrid plants will often will be muddy looking. In mild regions, the entire plant may overwinter if covered with mulch.Shown above: 'Rocket Red' snapdragon


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