With the trumpet tongue, the large plant family of the nightshade family has produced another ornamental plant that fits seamlessly into the long list of important summer flowers for the garden. The herbaceous Salpiglossis sinuata shines in the overall picture of the plant with powerful, bright flowers in rich red, delicate pink, bright yellow or deep blue. Not only the impressive colors contribute to the great popularity, but their entire habit, which is very reminiscent of orchids. However, their cultivation is a challenge even for experienced hobby gardeners in the local latitudes, especially due to the completely different climatic conditions compared to their homeland in Chile and Peru.


So that the trumpet tongue can develop its velvety, bell-shaped flowers up to 7 cm in time in the garden, cultivation should be started in the period from the end of February to mid-April indoors or in a heated greenhouse. The better chance of success for sowing the heat-sensitive Salpiglossis sinuata indoors:

  • A mini greenhouse or a seed tray are ideal for sowing.
  • Fill the seed pot with special potting soil or a peat-sand mixture.
  • Don’t spread the seeds too close together.
  • As light germinators, the seeds are only lightly pressed.
  • Use a water sprayer to moisten the seeds and substrate.
  • Close the mini greenhouse or cover the seed tray with transparent film.
  • Place in a bright, warm place at 20° to 22° Celsius.
  • A full sun position is not suitable for sowing.
  • Keep the substrate slightly moist at all times, but do not soak.
  • If water droplets form on panes or foil, briefly ventilate.
  • Too much moisture causes rot.
  • If the potting soil dries up, the seed dies.
  • The germination period is 2 to 3 weeks under good conditions.
  • The strongest seedlings are then pricked out.
  • When the first true pairs of leaves appear, the seedlings are transplanted.
  • Further cultivation takes place in individual pots at 18° to 20° Celsius.
  • Any stop in growth is over after a week.
  • Keep airy, slightly moist and protect from direct sun until mid-May.

Experienced hobby gardeners ensure that the growing substrate is sterile by placing it in the oven at 200° for 20 minutes or in the microwave at 800 watts for 5 minutes before use. Incidentally, several garden enthusiasts report successful indoor keeping of the trumpet tongue. In this case, sowing is done in September to enjoy the colorful plant on the window sill throughout the winter.

Sow in a cold box

Direct sowing in the bed is carried out from March; However, only if a mobile cold box is available as a protected cold frame. This is a construction consisting of a wooden frame and a movable, translucent cover made of glass or plastic. A permanent cold box usually consists of a concrete or brick border. For the sowing of the trumpet tongue, however, the temporary variant is required, which can easily be removed in May. Since the nightshade family only germinates in a warm environment of around 20° Celsius, the cold box needs a heating cable and a thermometer. The frame is not the same height all the way around, but shows a slight rise, facing south to allow as much solar heat to reach the seedlings as possible.

First, a 10 cm thick layer of topsoil is distributed and trodden down. After the soil has settled over a period of 2 days, a layer of manure is poured in, which in turn is covered with a 5 cm layer of garden soil and compacted. There must be enough space up to the cover so that the seedlings can develop well. To protect against the first warm spring days with strong sunlight, reed or straw mats are ready to hand. Otherwise there are no notable differences to sowing indoors. Experience has shown that sowing directly into the bed without the protection of a cold box will only result in a scanty yield of young plants,


From the middle of May, when the ice saints have said goodbye with the cold Sofie and there is no longer any fear of ground frost, the trumpet tongues come out into the open.

  • A sunny, wind- and rain-protected place is ideal.
  • Enrich the garden soil and compost mixture with a little lime.
  • Work in some sand if there is a risk of waterlogging.
  • The planting distance is 25 cm to 30 cm.
  • Good potting soil is used as a substrate in the bucket.
  • Keep the trumpet tongue moist.
  • Create drainage in the planter to prevent waterlogging.
  • Pour water directly to the roots.
  • Remove wilted and wet flowers immediately.
  • Don’t forget to pull weeds regularly.
  • Repeated pruning of the shoots promotes flowering.
  • Fertilize the flower bed with garden compost every 4 weeks.
  • When cultivating in a bucket, preferably give liquid fertilizer.

Since the trumpet tongue is poisonous in all parts, as is well known for most nightshade plants, work gloves are an indispensable part of the gardening equipment.

diseases and pests

Although pests probably instinctively register the toxic components of Salpiglossis sinuata and give them a wide berth, the plant is susceptible to fungal diseases. Especially when it is not possible to regulate their water balance in a balanced way, powdery mildew and root rot hit mercilessly. BothInfections result in immediate elimination of the trumpet tongue to prevent further spread. Under no circumstances should the diseased flowers migrate to the compost, because the spores could nest there and strike again. The use of biological agents to combat powdery mildew is essentially based on vegetable broths and liquid manure that are sprayed on leaves and flowers. In the case of Salpiglossis, which is sensitive to moisture, the devil would be driven out with Beelzebub in this case, so that the troubled hobby gardener can save himself this effort. The importance of location factors is therefore particularly important when cultivating this nightshade family.


An expert hobby gardener is usually suspicious when the seed trade speaks vehemently of an annual summer flower, while in its warm home country it thrives without any problems for several years. This circumstance also applies to the trumpet reed. If there are also reports of successful cultivation as a houseplant, the assumption is that overwintering could be successful, especially for Salpiglossis sinuata in a planter. If things go wrong, the tuition to be paid is manageable. For particularly beautiful specimens, it should be worth trying:

  • Clean and thin out thoroughly before putting away in September.
  • Bring into the room or conservatory in good time before the first frost.
  • Place in a bright location at at least 16° to 18° Celsius.
  • Shade the plant in direct midday sun.
  • Water only when thumb test reveals a dry surface.
  • Do not fertilize in winter quarters.
  • Check regularly for spider mites, thrips and whiteflies.
  • Repot into fresh substrate at the end of the winter.
  • Slightly shorten the first shoots above an eye for better branching.

When spring is announced, the trumpet tongue gradually gets used to more sunlight and warmer temperatures until it is finally allowed to go outside again in mid-May.


In addition to sowing, cuttings are ideal for propagation. With this method, several strong shoots that have at least one eye are selected in late summer. The cuttings are cut off at an angle below this eye and shortened at the top so that they are a maximum of 10 cm to 15 cm long. The experienced gardener then removes all the flowers and leaves. After dipping the slanting end in rooting powder or willow water, they can be placed in small pots. The substrate is preferably nutrient-poor and permeable. So that the capillaries at the interface are not damaged, the planting hole for each cutting is pre-drilled with a pricking stick or simply a pencil. Willow water is again ideal for watering, because it speeds up the rooting process. In addition, a warm, humid micro-climate has a beneficial effect on the growth of the cuttings. It is achieved with the help of a foil that is put over the growing pots.

However, it is advisable to observe the self-created mini greenhouse with eagle eyes in the following weeks. If drops of water form under the foil, it is high time to air the room so that no mold forms. In the following 6 to 8 weeks, the substrate and cuttings are kept evenly moist. Once a vigorous root system has established, the cuttings are transplanted to slightly larger pots of conventional substrate. Without foil covering, they are treated like adult Salpiglossis sinuata until the time has come to plant them in beds or in pots on balconies and terraces.

Popular Varieties

The eye-catching trumpet tongue with the long flowering period from June to September is available in a variety of varieties, some successful versions of which are presented below:

Trompetenzunge ‚Black Trumpets‘

  • Growth height up to 50 cm
  • velvety, black-red flowers
  • ideal for pot culture
  • is often used as a cut flower

Trompetenzunge ‚Red Bicolor’

  • Growth height 50 cm
  • Flower color red with bright yellow markings
  • popular permanent bloomer for beds and tubs

Trompetenzunge ‚Yellow ‘

  • Growth height 50 cm
  • pure yellow flowers with high luminosity
  • summons the sun

Trumpet Tongue ‘Kew Blue’

  • Growth height 50 cm
  • blue-black flowers darker toward the center
  • spreads a pleasant honey scent

Trumpet Tongue ‘Purple Bicolor’

  • Growth height 50 cm
  • violet flowers with expressive yellow markings
  • goes well with ‘Black Trumpets’

In addition, trumpet reeds can be discovered in various magnificent mixtures, which together ignite a veritable fireworks display in the garden.

Harmonious companion plants

The trumpet reeds, which are between 60 cm and a maximum of 100 cm in size, are not only extremely decorative in a group. In the vicinity of the following garden and balcony plants, they also set pleasing accents:

  • In front of the white giant gypsophila.
  • In community with candytufts .
  • Near the scabioses .
  • As a neighbor of the ice plant .
  • In addition to perennials, such as the sweetheart lily.
  • As underplanting for high-growing rose varieties.
  • Common to the related petunia .

A picture of perfect aesthetics is created when you plant the brightly colored trumpet tongues against the backdrop of an evergreen hedge. At this point, the sensitive summer flowers receive good protection from wind and rain.

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