Daily Flower Candy: Incarvillea delavayi ‘Snowtop’


I need more plants like I need a hole in the head. The garden is already bursting at the seams and there’s twelve weeks to go until it reaches its most junglified. But when confronted with a bargain my willpower withers like a dandelion doused with RoundUp. ‘Go on’, goaded Martin the Garden Centre Man, ‘they’re only £1.49 (for 3) and will come up a treat’. And indeed they did. In the space of six weeks, the finger-like tubers have produced lush rosettes of prettily divided leaves and the beginnings of a fine display of flowers. The blooms are as cool as a cucumber, brilliant white with a touch of daffodil-yellow in the throat.


Like most of the bulbs and tubers I grow in containers, my incarvillea (commonly known as hardy gloxinias) are planted in John Innes No.3 with added grit. Because I can’t water daily I find that loam-based compost retains moisture better, with the added bonus of being weighty – helpful when the wind blows. So far I am impressed. Incarvillea delavayi ‘Snowtop’ appears effortless to grow whilst appearing as if it could be challenging, which is always satisfying. The flowers are providing a focal point whilst many of my other containerised plants are establishing themselves. As a stop gap it’s marvellous, and quite possibly the best £1.49 I’ve ever spent.

Have you tried growing incarvillea? What are your experiences? Can you recommend any good named varieties?