Garden friends, today I want to talk about the beautiful Lisianthus flower and how to grow lisianthus from seed – fresh cut flowers. It’s one of the most popular, high-end fresh cut flowers at farmers market. I have several colors and varieties that I will be planting this year and starting them from seed indoors tomorrow 1/10/2022.
The Lisianthus flower belongs to the Gentianaceae family. Other names for this beautiful flower are; Prairie Gentian, Texas Bluebell, Bluebells, and Tulip gentian. Lisianthus flowers come in single and multi-pedal flowers, the single resemble tulips or poppies and the double blooms resemble a rose or peony. Lisianthus are also related to the carnation family and is native to the southern states of the USA, Carribean, Mexico and South America. Nickname for Lisianthus is Lizzie’s.
Starting Lisianthus Indoors
As some of you may know or not know, Lisianthus take a long time to grow, 12 to 14 weeks. Some even say they can be tricky to grow and some say they are easy to grow. You can sow lisianthus seeds in cell packs, flats or even take out containers with the clear plastic lid or if no lids you can use plastic wrap on top. This creates the greenhouse effect to help keep moisture to help germination.
Most lisianthus seeds come pelleted, so far all my lisianthus seeds are pelleted. This allows for easier sowing and accuracy, they are easier to see. The pelleting may shorten shelf life of the seed. I am a member of a Facebook group, called Lisianthus seed starters, and I asked this question. Most of them are using seeds from the previous year. The other thing they all were saying is to store them in a dark cool place and this can increase the shelf life of the pelleted seeds. Some said they had better germination rates the second year vs the first year.
Use a potting mix that has been pre-moistened. The soil should hold form when wet but not dripping water when squeezing. Press seeds into the soil. If you don’t have a lot of room for heat mats and grow lights plant the seeds in a flat or take out containers until the seeds germinate. Keep soil evenly moist but not soggy. Do not allow the grow medium to dry out during germination. Keeping the soil moist breaks down the coating on the seed. Soil temperature needs to be 70 to 75 degrees to help germination and make sure to have good air circulation. Germination can take 10 to 14 days and some garden sites say maybe 20 days.
Once they germinate, maintain a soil temperature between 60 to 70 degrees and remove the domes. If you started these in a flat or take out container, you can gently remove them and add them to plug trays. One seedling per plug. If you have plenty of room with heat mats and grow lights, use deep plugs and one seed per plug. You will want to watch the temperature and not get to warm. Rosetting can happen when the plant is stressed with temperatures consistantly above 80 degrees during the day and 70 degrees at night. They can also get rosetting if they are overwatered or allowed to dry out during germination.
When 4 to 5 true leaves have developed, in about 55 to 60 days, it’s time to plant outside, if your weather permits. You can also use frost cloth on nights of frost danger. Plant in full sun or if in a hot climate in partial shade.
Transplanting Lisianthus Outdoors
When the weather conditions allow you to for transplanting lisianthus outdoors, they can be planted in full sun to partial shade if in a hot climate. Do not allow the plugs to get root bound, as this may promote flowering too early and on short stems. Space the transplants 6 to 8 inches apart in the garden. To encourage bushy growth, pinch back plants at the third node.
To prevent stem rot, try not to bury the plugs too deep. Planting the plugs a little higher than the soil level will help to protect against rhizoctonia.
Keep the soil evenly moist but not saturated, and do not let the plants dry out. Reduce water levels once buds have formed. To prevent the flowers from getting burned from high light levels and warm temperatures a light shade cloth can be used.
It is not recommended to direct sow, most places don’t have that long of a growing season. If you are in the south you might be able to direct sow.
Rosetting is when the plant fails to flower and instead produces a basal cluster of leaves. this occurs when temperatures, water and light requirements are not followed. Once rosetting happens it is difficult to reverse but may be reversed by lowering the temperatures to 50 degress for approximately 30 days. By following the cultural guidelines outlined, you can successfully prevent rosetting.
Picture of what Rosetting looks like
Once budding and flowering has initiated, rosetting is no longer a concern and the plants can handle more extreme temperature fluctuations.
Lisianthus Pest and Diseases
Crop rotation should be practiced to prevent the build-up of pathogens and pest in the soil. the most commong pest for lisianthus are aphids, leaf miners, thrips, and white flies. Lisianthus is susceptible to botrytis, fusarium and other diseases.
Harvest when one or more flowers are open. There is often a long period of time between the first bloom and subsequent blooms. Harvesting or pinching the first blooms will result in a more uniform set of blooms per stem. the harvested first blooms is useful in corsages, small bud vases or short arrangements.
Harvesting Lisisanthus is best to do in the morning when temperatures are their coolest. Place stems in a clean bucket with cool water. For optimum storage, place bucketes in a cooler at 36 to 41 degrees. Floral preservatives can be used to increase the length of the vase life. Lisianthus flowers and buds bay last for long periods of time out of water without wilting and for this reason are favorite for wedding bouquets, head wreaths, corsages and boutonnieres. When kept at the ideal storage temperature, lisianthus can last for 10-15 days in a vase.
If you desire a staggered harvest, you can plant different harvest groups (1, 2, and 3) on the same date they will mature at different times. For example, when planting a later flowering group 3 variety along with an earlier group 2 variety, the later group will begin to bloom approximately 2 weeks after the earlier group.
Chart from Johnny;s seeds select. Johnny’s don’t sell group 4 lisianthus seeds. You can see in the graph above the 5 different series’ and when they harvest. The Echo series looks to be first to bloom the Mariachi, Rosanne, Doublini are on the same schedule and the Arena III series harvest into the fall.
Lisianthus is one of the most beautiful flowers out there. Lisianthus can be tricky to grow. You just need a little patients and watching the soil moisture, you should have beautiful flowers in the summer. Make sure the temperatures don’t get 80 degrees and above or over watering to prevent rosetting. Once the flowers have blossomed rosetting is no longer an issue.
Have you grown lisianthus before?
Leave a comment below and let me know how they worked for you.
Below is the seed starting equipment I used, heat mat and thermostat. These are affiliate links, if you click on one of my links and purchase something, I may get a commission that supports my website and you get a great product at no extra charge to you. Thank you in advance if you purchase from my affiliate links.
VIVOSUN Seedling Heat Mat Digital Thermostat Combo 20″ x 20.75″
VIVOSUN 10″x20.75″ Seedling Heat Mat and Digital Thermostat Combo Set MET Standard
VIVOSUN Seedling Heat Mat Thermostat Only
Also if you need any seed starting trays or potting soil – Home Depot Garden Center has everything you need