Painted tongue is related to petunias, and this South American annual bears velvety, trumpet-shaped flowers in jewel tones of yellow, orange, red, pink, purple and bronze. Each flower’s network of veins is often highlighted in a contrasting color, providing a lovely stained glass appearance.
Its form is somewhat open, with many wide-branching stems making it perfect for an informal cottage-style garden where it can mingle with other annuals and perennials. Be sure to plant a few extra for cutting: Stems of painted tongue last up to a week in bouquets.
Common name: Painted tongue
Botanical name: Salpiglossis sinuata
Plant type: Annual
Height: 18 to 30 inches
- Sun: Full sun or part shade
- Soil: Fairly rich loam is ideal; in sandy or clay soils, work in plenty of compost
- Moisture: Evenly moist
- Mulch: None, or 1 inch of organic mulch like compost or shredded leaves
- Pruning: Deadhead spent flowers
- Fertilizer: Apply compost or diluted soluble fertilizer
Pests and diseases
- ‘Black Trumpets’ bears deep burgundy flowers with dramatic near-black veins.
- The Casino Series is compact and floriferous, blooming in multiple colors.
- ‘Kew Blue’ has rich blue-violet flowers with a darker center and veining.
- ‘Royale Mix’ blooms in many richly patterned bright colors.
- ‘Stained Glass’ sports multiple bright colors and stands up to rain and wind.
- Painted tongue blooms all summer in regions with cool to moderate temperatures; in hot-summer regions, combine it with heat-loving annuals like zinnias that can take over when painted tongue starts flagging.
- While painted tongue likes cooler temperatures, it’s not frost-tolerant, so don’t plant it outdoors too early.
- Interplant painted tongue with low, mounding annuals like petunias or sweet alyssum that will hide its leggy stem bases.
- Compact forms like the Casino Series are good for container plantings.
All in the family
- Painted tongue is a member of the nightshade family (Solanaceae), which contains about 3,000 species of herbaceous and woody plants from around the world.
- There are many familiar edible and ornamental members of this family, including tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplants, petunias and flowering tobacco (Nicotiana).
Where to buy