By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden
Growing lisianthus, also known as Texas bluebell, prairie gentian, or prairie rose and botanically called Eustoma grandiflorum, adds elegant, upright color to the summer garden in all USDA hardiness zones. Lisianthus plants also brighten mixed container plantings. Lisianthus flowers are popular in cut flower arrangements too.
The showy lisianthus flowers, similar to a rose, not only come in shades of blue and lilac but pink, pale green, and white as well. Blooms may be single or double. Some plants have ruffled edges and darker coloration on the edge and in the center.
While some information about lisianthus plants says it is not recommended to mix colors together when growing them in containers, most resources say the opposite provided that you choose similar types, as there are varieties that may grow too tall for containers. Plants reach 24 to 30 inches (61 to 76 cm.) in height unless growing one of the dwarf varieties, which are most suitable to grow in pots.
Lisianthus plants can grow from tiny seeds if you have the right environment, but are most often bought as bedding plants. Growers report that seed-grown plants may take 22 to 24 weeks to develop, so when planning to grow lisianthus in the home garden, make it easy on yourself and purchase already growing seedlings.
Don’t delay when transplanting purchased seedlings of lisianthus plants, as becoming root-bound and remaining in the small container may permanently stunt growth. Planting time for the lisianthus plant varies according to where you live. In areas with freezing temperatures, plant them when the danger of frost and freezing is past. In warmer southern zones, plant as early as March.
Lisianthus care includes planting small bedding plants into well-draining soil in a sunny area. Plant 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20.5 cm.) apart to allow the multi-branching stems to support one another. Lisianthus care may also include staking heavily blooming plants that become top-heavy.
If you have this happy situation when growing lisianthus, don’t hesitate to remove the top flowers for indoor bouquets. Cut flowers of the lisianthus plant last up to two weeks in water.
The popularity of their use as cut flowers allows one to find them year-round at many florists. When growing lisianthus in the home garden, you may be happily surprised at how long the blooming season is for healthy plants.
Keep the soil moist, but avoid overwatering and cease watering when the plant is dormant. Learning how to grow lisianthus is a joy in the flowerbed and provides exotic, long-lasting blooms for the indoor arrangement.
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How to Sow and Plant
Lisianthus may be grown from potted plants
Planting Potted Plants in the Garden:
Last Updated: September 4, 2020 References
This article was co-authored by Lauren Kurtz. Lauren Kurtz is a Naturalist and Horticultural Specialist. Lauren has worked for Aurora, Colorado managing the Water-Wise Garden at Aurora Municipal Center for the Water Conservation Department. She earned a BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Western Michigan University in 2014.
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Eustoma grandiflorum, more commonly known as lisianthus, is prized for its beautiful, lush foliage. The plant’s temperamental nature, however, makes it notoriously challenging to grow. For this reason, it may be easier to start with seedling “plugs” if you live in a place where the climate is overwhelmingly cold or warm year-round. Once the plant has sprouted, the best formula for healthy, long-lasting blooms is mild temperatures, moderate sunlight, and regular but infrequent watering.
DAYS TO GERMINATION: 10-15 days at 70-75°F (21-24°C).
SOWING: Transplant: Greenhouse production is highly recommended. Sow 12-13 weeks in deep cell packs before last frost. Light is needed for germination, but a fine layer of vermiculite covering the seed will help control algae growth. Keep the soil evenly moist, but not saturated and maintain 70-75°F (21-24°C) soil temperature. Provide good air circulation until emergence. Reduce moisture levels once emergence has occurred and allow to dry out slightly between waterings to prevent algae growth. After emergence, reduce the temperature to 60-70°F (16-21°C). Avoid stressing the plants with high temperatures over 85°C (29°C) and overwatering during this stage to prevent rosetting (the resting stage). Early transplanting is recommended. Transplant no later than the fourth leaf stage, approximately 55-60 days. Direct seeding is not recommended.
DISEASE: Applying RootShield® Home & Garden is recommended to provide prolonged protection against root pathogens.
SOIL REQUIREMENTS: Well-drained soil high in organic matter.
HARVEST: Fresh: Harvest when 1 or more of the flowers on a stem are open.
VASE LIFE: 10-15 days 36-41°F (2-5°C) ideal storage temperature.
USES: Excellent cut flower, beds.
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Eustoma grandiflorum
ALTERNATE NAMES: Prairie gentian, showy prairie gentian, Texas bluebell
Grow shorter lisianthus in containers. The variety of colors means lisianthus is easy to combine with other flowers. Some good neighbors are dianthus (Dianthus spp. & hybrids) and tickseed (Coreopsis spp. & hybrids), since they like similar growing conditions. Lacy baby’s breath (Gypsophila hybrids) blooms provide a soft background for lisianthus. Or combine them with snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) or ornamental oregano (Origanum hybrids) for a great flower and texture contrast.
which sells seeds for lisianthus including a Magenta lisianthus from Burpee called Petunia, above, a Spellbound wine red hybrid, these are something to consider when planting seeds:
Eustoma prefers a warm, moist and sunny environment. More drought, not wet. The optimum temperature for growth is 15-28°C, and the temperature at night cannot be lower than 12°C. The water requirement is strict, high moist, but excessive water is also detrimental to the growth of the roots. If the water supply is insufficient, the stems and leaves grow weakly and flower early. The response to light is more sensitive, long daylight helps the stem and leaf growth and flower bud formation.
Germination optimum temperature is 22-25 °C, 12-15 days after sowing germination, half a month after germination or seedlings, seedling growth is very slow. 120 to 140 days from sowing to flowering.
Cut flowers need 150 to 180 days.
Burpee sayd: Potted plants are used to decorate the living room, balcony or window sill, showing a fresh and elegant feeling. If you use a few cut purple eustomas with white lilies, it is very decent for a flower arrangement.
Lisianthus like pink champagne from Burpee, above, will grow in all zones as an annual, but you can expect better performance in areas with mild summers. While you can grow the plants from seed, they aren’t for beginners, and the they take a very long time to mature into blooming-sized plants when they aren’t cultivated under strictly maintained greenhouse conditions.
Your best bet is to buy plants with buds or flowers already emerging.
Burpee admits: Even greenhouse growers may sometimes flub and produce plants that favor foliage over flowers.
In other words, go ahead and buy lisianthus as a potted plant, which they also sell. Enjoy the thrill of having that beautiful flower unwind, in frilly colors and styles that even roses cannot duplicate.
Lisianthus are more delicate than roses. They don’t have any scent, alas. But do as florists do, and tuck a stem of freesia, or tuberose, into the bouquet.
Someone receiving a bouquet of lisianthus will be transported by the beauty and the (hidden) scent.
Prevent taller varieties of lisianthus from falling over when they bloom by staking plants before flowering occurs.
Julie Bawden-Davis is an accomplished writer, who specializes in home and garden. Since 1985, she’s written for a wide variety of publications, including “Organic Gardening,” "Better Homes and Gardens," "Ladies' Home Journal," "Parents," "Family Circle" and "The Los Angeles Times." Her books include "Fairy Gardening" and "Reader's Digest Flower Gardening." Bawden-Davis holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and is a certified master gardener.
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