The cineraria flower – sometimes known at the florist’s cineraria – is a hybrid species in the pericallis genus and belongs to the vast compositae family. These plants, which are native to England, grow their best in thoroughly moistened soil and a good deal of shade. These blossoms are made up of stems covered in fine hair; large velvety leaves that can reach sizes of 6 inches in length and 4 inches in width; and 2 to 3 inch heads that have a center made up of disk flowers, and a single row of ray flowers surrounding it. What makes cineraria flowers a favorite amongst gardeners and florists is the variety of vibrant colors. These plants may be seen in shades of magenta and violet, blue, white and red; they may be variegated, uniformly bicolored, or have contrasting centers.
During the late 1700s, Francis Masson – the Scottish gardener and botanist – was sent out on a mission to collect new plants for the Royal Botanic Gardens. From this particular trip he sent home several species of senecio – a genus which, at the time, housed the cineraria – and from these species, the cineraria flower that we know today was developed. The delicate but vibrant beauty of the cineraria flower has made it a well-loved subject for a number of arts and celebrations. Photography is undoubtedly the favored medium for this particular blossom. Photographers such as Luis Correia and Margaret Barry capture the cineraria in stunning reality, while Cee Neuner and Julia Wright feature them in a more abstract manner. Although paintings of these flowers are rare, a few artists have created lovely pieces such as, “The Cineraria Flower,” by Gilbert Lam, and the 1923 painting, “Cineraria,” by Charles Demuth. As for celebration, these blossoms were officially named the theme flower for the 2010 Hong Kong Flower Show in Victoria Park, where organizations from around the world were able to show off their own exotic plant life.
Cinerarias represent delight, and when given as a gift, they are commonly meant to represent the pleasure that the giver feels simply from being around the recipient. A large bouquet filled with this particular blossom can make for a stunning, cheerful and long lasting present – living between 10 to 20 days if kept well moistened. However, if the recipient has something of a green thumb, they may prefer the potted variety.