(Elk Cream Hardy Gloxinia) Unlike regular Sinningia tubiflora, this petite variety has long, tubular flowers that are cream colored instead of pure white. Soft hairs give its mounding foliage a silvery green look, velvety texture, and drought resistance.
The Sinningia genus was once known botanically as Gloxinia. It’s part of the gesneriad family (Gesneriaceae), which is best known for African violets. Gloxinias are native to South America, with this species hailing from Argentina and Uruguay. This isn’t a frost-tolerant perennial. Instead, its common name includes the word “hardy,” because Elk Cream can withstand chilly temperatures down to about 15 degrees F.
Elk Cream grows well in full sun to partial shade and in rich soil with good drainage. It spreads easily by underground tubers. Tolerant of salty spray, it’s a good choice for coastal areas with mild winters.
The fragrant flowers of Sinningia tubiflora ‘Elk Cream’ smell similar to lemon. But it’s the nectar and slender barrels of its blossoms that attract hummingbirds. These floral tubes actually are fused petals that flare into ruffled looking bells at their tips, making them look like they have corollas.
The genus is named for Wilhelm Sinning (1792-1874) who was a gardener at Germany's University of Bonn Botanical Garden. Sinning co-authored the 1825 book A Collection of Beautiful Flowering Plants, which contained one of the first botanical illustrations of a gloxinia.
When “Elk” appears in any plant name in our catalog, it indicates that Flowers by the Sea Farm developed the plant. Elk Cream Hardy Gloxinia is the result of careful seedling selection and multiple rounds of trialing to arrive at excellence.
(Scarlet O'Hara Hardy Gloxinia) This plant's long, tubular, deep pink flowers dangle from apple green, leaf-like calyxes. Fuzzy red petioles connect the flowers to deep red stems rising above slightly furry, soft green leaves. This older hybrid of South American gloxinias can handle a bit of winter chill.
(Shelby Hardy Gloxinia) Shelby's long, tubular, creamy pink flowers dangle from apple green, leaf-like calyxes. Fuzzy red petioles connect the flowers to deep red stems rising above slightly furry, soft green leaves. This Suncrest Nurseries hybrid of South American gloxinias can handle a bit of winter chill.
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Here are some guidelines for success with this plant in your garden.
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This plant needs or tolerates more than six hours of intense sunlight daily. Many Salvias only thrive in wide-open locations where they receive long hours of full sun. However, full-sun species sometimes tolerate a bit of partial shade. Or a Salvia that loves partial shade may be amenable to spending part of its time in full sun.
In general, this sun/shade adaptability shows up in Salvias that do best in cooler climates when grown in full sun and thrive in hot climates when partial shade is available. So full-sun Salvias sometimes are also categorized as partial-shade plants and vice versa.
This plant can handle extreme heat.
Full-sun Salvias that don’t like any shade are among the most heat tolerant. Heat-loving Salvias also are often drought tolerant. Moisture-conserving features, such as fuzzy leaves, help them stay perky at high temperatures.
Heat-tolerant Salvias are fine choices for western and southern exposures.
This plant grows well in partial shade, such as the kind on the edge of woodlands or under deciduous trees with breaks in the foliage through which dappled sunlight penetrates. Many Salvias thrive in partial shade, including ones that spend part of their day in full sunlight. Some species need partial shade to overcome severe heat and dry soil.
This plant grows well in an outdoor container, such as on a patio.
Some containerized Salvias leaf out and flower year after year following a period of dormancy. Annuals in containers may die back and appear to grow again when they reseed.
During extreme heat, check the soil in container plantings once or twice daily to be sure it doesn't completely dry out. Feel its surface for coolness, then gently poke a finger into the soil to check for dryness.
To create a harmonious landscape plan, it is important to consider the heights of individual plants.
Height also affects function. Short Salvias often make excellent ground covers that conserve soil moisture and discourage weeds while also brightening your yard. Medium-height Salvias, such as ones 36 inches tall, often are ideal border plants. A tall Salvia planted singly can highlight a landscape; multiple plantings can form an attractive screen.
Plant this herbaceous species in the USDA Zones where it grows as a perennial, returning year after year.
After dying back to the ground at frost, herbaceous perennials emerge in the Spring with soft, new growth. A Salvia that is perennial in one region, may be an annual in another depending on local conditions, such as winter temperatures.
If you live in USDA Zone 5, for example, Salvias in our catalog cited as growing well in Zone 5 or lower will be perennial. Those cited as doing well in Zones 6 or higher may do well in Zone 5, but generally will act like annuals coming back from seed instead of the parent plant’s roots.
By considering the width of a plant, you can determine how many to place in a row or what other plants to grow with it.
For example, a narrow, moderate-height Salvia may look good interplanted with bushier species, kind of like Mutt and Jeff.
In contrast, wide-spreading Salvias are economical for hiding lengths of wall and fence or for creating hedge-like divisions in a yard.
Plant hardiness Zones defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture tell you the minimum temperatures a plant can withstand in your garden. The USDA divides the nation into winter climate areas from coldest (Zone 1) to warmest (Zone 11).
However, it is sometimes possible to grow a Zone 6 Salvia as a perennial in Zone 5 if you provide preferential care, such as winter mulching and a location sheltered from harsh winds. In contrast, a Zone 9 Salvia may act like a perennial in Zone 10 if given a bit of shade or extra water.
This plant needs regular watering based on what is appropriate to your local conditions.
In some extremely hot, arid climates, this may mean daily watering in Summer. Although many drought-resistant Salvias survive on little to no watering due to local rainfall and deep roots meeting their moisture needs, others need regular doses. The size and frequency of the dose depends on your climate.
In the right locale, this plant survives and thrives despite minimal summer water.
Drought resistance is an important characteristic of xeriscapic – dry landscape – plants, a category that includes a multitude of Salvias. Many low-water Salvias are native to parts of the world with little rainfall all year or regions where summers are dry and winters are wet.
Nevertheless, there are also drought-resistant Salvias for places such as Florida where winters are dry and summers are wet.
Based on our experience and reports from customers, hummingbirds (Trochilidae spp.) love this plant.
Hummingbirds exist only in the Americas where their 300-plus species are particularly fond of the nectar in brightly colored Salvias from the Western Hemisphere. However, if favorites aren’t available, they dine on the nectar of most Salvias.
Hummingbirds repay thoughtful plantings by helping to pollinate your garden