This Is How a Florist Grows and Cares for Lisianthus, a Finicky Perennial
Lisianthus, also known as Texas Bluebells, are elegant rose-like perennials that are favored by gardeners and florists alike for their ruffled petals and range of hues, including lavender, pink, white, and peach (as well as two-tone varieties!). Each stem is filled with blooms that flower from the bottom, up over a two-to-four-week period. Depending on the variety, lisianthus can grow anywhere from six to 40 inches tall, which makes them well suited for garden landscapes, container arrangements, or cut bouquets, alike. Ahead, a florist shares his best tips for successfully growing lisianthus—which can be a tricky variety to care for—in your home garden.
First, make sure you live in an environment where lisianthus thrives.
Native to the southern United States, Mexico, and northern South America, lisianthus like heat—and are best suited for USDA Plant Hardiness Zones eight to 10, where plants enjoy summer temperatures relatively year round.
Growing this variety from seed? Have patience.
Growing lisianthus from seed requires carefully maintained greenhouse conditions. The reason? These seeds are extremely sensitive, explains Mario Hamwi, the owner of Irvine Florist Marketplace, a BloomNation partner. Consider starting them indoors—and if you want to get them in the ground, know they will take some work (they will need covered protection during rainstorms at the seed and young plant level; a tarp will shield the growing flower's delicate petals from rain drops, which can cause spotting). Don't expect to see these colorful beauties anytime soon, though: They can take upwards of six months to produce blooms.
Planting and nurturing a mature lisianthus is easier.
Luckily, most neighborhood nurseries sell mature lisianthus, which can be enjoyed much sooner. If you plan to go this route, get your lisianthus plant into the ground by early April to see blooms by July. They favor damp, well-draining soil, full sun, and should be treated with a nutrient-rich fertilizer throughout the growing season. Additionally, Hamwi suggests spraying them with "an emulsified mix of fish or kelp powder to keep the lisianthus healthy while they develop their roots in the early months."
End-of-season care matters.
When the plant's seed capsule ripens, around September or October, cut back the stalk so that two to three inches remain above ground. "After it overwinters, lisianthus will be more vigorous and yield more flowers than the first year," says Hamwi.