Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum) is the expensive, special occasion cut flower that is very easy to grow at home. The beautiful blooms of the lisianthus grace bridal bouquets, banquet tables and add their floral touch to many other social occasions because of the variety of colors and their longevity after being cut from the parent plant.
While the long-stem cut blooms of the lisianthus look delicate and are expensive, this flower easy to grow at home and can be purchased at an affordable price.
Lisianthus goes by many different names; Texas bluebell, Prairie gentian, Tulip gentian, Bluebells, Wild rose, Thornless rose and Lira de San Pedro. They’re also frequently mistaken for tulips or peonies because of the size and shape of the blooms. Lisianthus is a combination of two Greek words – ‘lysis’ for dissolution and ‘anthos’ for flower. Whichever name you choose to call the flower, its elegant beauty will leave you speechless.
Lisianthus is an annual that can be grown in any zone outdoors and it also makes a perfect houseplant. The plant does not like hot weather, so it will perform its best in growing zones that have mild summer temperatures. The plant will be short-lived when planted in southern growing zones that have hot, humid summer weather.
It will do well in the cool spring temperatures, then die when summer heat sets in. A growing option for zones with hot summer climates is to grow the plant in a container and place it outdoors in the cool spring, then bring it indoors when temperature rises above 80 degrees.
Color, Shape and Size
Bloom colors are typically in the cool tone range, such as white, pale pink or purple, but also come in red, yellow and bi-color blooming varieties. Blooms can be single or double. Single blooms resemble a tulip at first, then continue to open until petal are completely open-faced to reveal the yellow center. Double bloom varieties resemble a small peony or rose bloom at first, as the petals continue to open they will stop short of becoming fully flat and open-faced.
Plants will produce several blooms on each stem, with the buds being almost as attractive as the blooms. Foliage is dark green and lance-shaped.
Depending on the variety, lisianthus will grow from 6 to 40 inches tall and will spread up to 14 inches. Blooms are born on long stems, making them very desirable for use as cut flowers.
Lisianthus hate heat, but love sunshine. Select a planting location that will provide them with direct morning sun and dappled afternoon sun.
On the east side of a large shrub or tree or a east-facing window for indoor growth will provide the plant an ideal location in which to grow.
Lisianthus can be started from seeds, however, the process is very involved and time-consuming. Use plants and save yourself some time and work. Purchase healthy-looking plants with dark green foliage and buds or flowers already emerging.
Seeing the buds and blooms already on the plant will ensure of two things – the bloom color and that the plant won’t be all foliage and no bloom (which occasionally happens with greenhouse-grown plants).
How to Plant
Start with a soil test prior to planting. Soil pH must be maintained between 6.5 and 7 at all times or the plant will die. Lisianthus will not tolerate acidic soil and will stop producing blooms and leaves will turn yellow at the slightest hint of acidic soil. If the test shows the soil to be acidic, add limestone to the soil increase the alkalinity. A little limestone can also be mixed into the soil if the plant begins to show signs of distress during the growing season.
Create a planting hole in the soil that is slightly larger and deeper than the container which the plant is in. Gently remove plant from container by cutting the container away (never tug on plant stem to remove it) and place plant in prepared hole. Backfill any gaps with pH balanced soil, pat soil into place and water.
Food and Water
Lisianthus will grow their best when fed a steady diet of potassium. Use a plant food that contains twice as much potassium as nitrogen and apply according to package instructions.
Plants like moist soil, so water when top of soil begins to look dry. Never over-water or keep soil soggy. Too much water will cause the pants to develop a fungal mold and die.
Tall growing varieties of lisianthus are unable to support the weight of the blooms on single stems and will need a little support to remain upright. There are several decorative grow-through support cages on the market that can be used to provide the needed plant support, or you can devise your own DIY support system with stakes and ties.
Shorter growing plants rarely need support for their blooms.
Lisianthus are hardy plants and have only one pest to worry about – fungal gnats. The larval stage of fungal gnats occurs beneath the soil and these pests will feed heavily on plant roots and destroy them.
Plants are often infested with fungal gnats at the greenhouse and you won’t know it until your plant begins to die. A preemptive treatment with an organic pest control product, like Gnatrol, or a chemical pest control product, like Diazinon, will kill the gnat larvae and save the plant.
Lisianthus is a perfect flower addition for a cutting garden. The long-lasting bloom and high-dollar look make this a flower you’ll want to display in vases throughout the house and perhaps even share with friends.
Plant the tall varieties outside in the cutting garden and the smaller growing varieties in containers to grow indoors and/or on the patio.