Have you tried lisianthus? This unique annual has been grown in flowerbeds for ages, but remains a well-kept secret. It’s probably not widely known and grown because not many garden centers sell them as starter plants. But if you grow it successfully, I can assure you that neighbors will want to know it’s identity.
Lisianthus (pronounced liz-ee-AN-thus) is an annual, planted outdoors after danger of spring frosts, with care similar to other bedding plants. Some garden centers do sell lisianthus bedding plants in packs or pots, and your best bet to find plants are locally owned greenhouses.
Lisianthus can be started yourself indoors from seed. Patience is needed, as it should be seeded in January for transplants large enough for mid-May planting. A seed-starting fluorescent light setup is almost a must to keep the seedlings growing well.
What makes lisianthus so special?
- The flowers are very unique and rose-like.
- There’s a wide range of colors including pink, white, cream, lavender, purple, blue-purple, burgundy, rose, and yellow.
- Flowers can be enjoyed as a bedding plant, or as a cut flower.
- They’re a long-lasting cut flower, usually holding well for up to 2 weeks in a vase.
- Seeds are readily available through mail-order seed catalogs.
- Start seed in January. A germination heat mat greatly improves germination.
- Lisianthus can be transplanted outdoors in May after danger of frost has passed.
- For best results, amend soil generously with organic matter like peatmoss, bagged manure or compost. Lisianthus doesn’t like heavy clay soil.
- Plant in full sun or at least half-day sun.
- Plant in an area where you can enjoy the blooms up-close, rather than in a distant flowerbed.
- They can be grown in containers, as long as they’re watered regularly.