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Lisianthus: Planting, Growing and Caring for Lisianthus Flowers | Almanac.com

How to Grow Lisianthus: The Complete Guide

Botanical Name
Eustoma grandiflorum
Plant Type
Sun Exposure
Bloom Time
Flower Color
Hardiness Zone

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Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Lisianthus

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Growing this elegant cut flower will set your garden apart! With showy, rose-like blooms that are long-stemmed and come in a wide range of colors, lisianthuses are truly breathtaking. Learn how to plant, grow, and care for lovely lisianthus.

About Lisianthus 

If you follow flower farmers on social media, you’ll see them either holding huge armloads of lisianthus blooms or explaining why they don’t bother anymore. People love the flowers but sometimes hate growing them. With multiple ruffled rose-type blooms on each stem and long vase life, they are one of the top choice cut flowers for a good reason–they’re gorgeous! 

There are many lisianthus varieties available, organized into four groups based on when they bloom and what climate they need. Lisianthus are hardy in USDA zones 8-10. While they are perennials in their native range of the southwest US, they are usually grown as annuals. 

Long stems, single and double blooms reminiscent of roses, and colors ranging from white through pinks, reds, lilac, blues, and even bicolor varieties make this cut flower star versatile and in high demand.

Planting

Lisianthus likes full sun, about 6-8 hours each day, but afternoon shade is beneficial in regions with sweltering summers. Good drainage is necessary. Soil rich in organic matter is ideal, and a pH of 6.5-7.0 is the sweet spot. Amend beds with leaf litter, compost, and aged manure. 
If your flower patch is short on room, don’t despair; these flowers grow well in containers on the deck or patio.

When to Plant Lisianthus 

Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum) can be difficult to start from seed. The extended time it takes for seedlings to be ready for transplant means lots of time for something to go wrong. You’ll need your A-game, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done! If you are lucky, you may find lisianthus seedlings for sale at your local garden center, but don’t count on it.

Lisianthus likes cool weather to become established when transplanted and can take some moderate frost even as seedlings. In most locations, you can transplant lisianthus into outdoor beds about 4 weeks before your last frost date. Light frosts won’t hurt it, but if you get a cold snap, about 20F or colder, you’ll want to cover them with frost cloth for the night unless they’re covered in snow.

Once you’ve figured out your transplant date, count backward—a long way back. Depending on how perfect your grow environment is, lisianthus can take 3-5 months to be ready to plant out. For most of us, start about 4 months before your transplant date.

How to Start Lisianthus From Seed

Lisianthus seeds are pretty tiny, so buying pelleted seeds can make them much easier to handle. Soil blocks work well, but lisianthus can also be planted in small cell trays. 

  • Pre-moisten your seed starting mix, then sow one seed per block or cell.
  • Lisianthus seeds need light to germinate, so press them lightly to ensure good seed-to-soil contact and then apply a thin layer of vermiculite. 
  • Keep the seed starting mix evenly moist (but not drippy wet) until germination, which can take two weeks. A humidity dome or plastic covering will help keep the moisture in.
  • After they sprout, remove the humidity dome and let the medium slightly dry out between waterings. Don’t let them get too dry and wilt. With many potting mixes, the soil will change color a bit when dry, but I like to feel them to be certain. If they’re dry to the touch or very lightweight, it’s past time to water. 
  • Fertilize weekly with a dilute solution. The small seedlings will be in their trays or soil blocks for months. Eventually, they will use up the available nutrients and stop growing without supplemental fertilizer.
  • Don’t let the trays get too warm. If temps get high for a while, above 75-80℉, baby lisianthus may start to rosette and put out a bunch of growth from the base. Those that do this will likely never flower. 
    Lisianthus will still be small when transplanted–probably only an inch tall. Ideally, they should have four sets of leaves. 
     
Growing

Lisianthus are drought tolerant once established and will continue to blossom for many weeks, often until frost. Keep the weeds down and provide support for taller varieties.

  • When transplanting, space the seedlings 4-5 inches apart and stake or net them when you plant. They’ll need support, and it’s easier to do it right away than to forget and try to weave stems through the netting later.
  • Lisianthus can develop water spots on their petals with overhead irrigation, so a drip irrigation setup is handy. Flower farmers often grow lisianthus in hoop tunnels to protect their petals from the rain. But if you don’t have such fancy equipment, you can still grow them!
  • Mulch lisianthus to keep the soil shaded, help maintain moisture, and keep weeds down. 
  • Whether growing a few or a field, you’ll want to provide support by staking or using netting. Their heads get heavy with the huge blooms, and they will likely flop.
Harvesting
  • Lisianthus bloom from the bottom up, so the lowest blooms open first, like a gladiola. They can be harvested any time after the lower blooms begin to open.
  • Cut deeply to encourage future long stems.
  • Strip off all foliage that will be in the vase.
  • Fresh-cut lisianthus will last 10-15 days in the vase.
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Wit and Wisdom
  • Because lisianthus is so time-consuming to start from seed, you may wish to purchase started plants or plugs. Let someone else do the hard part.
  • Temperature is important when growing lisianthus, especially during the seedling stage. After sprouting, keep them cooler, about 50-65℉. Some varieties may rosette at room temps.
Pests/Diseases
  • Fusarium wilt
  • Root pathogens as seedlings due to the long holding time before transplanting
About The Author

Andy Wilcox

Andy Wilcox is a flower farmer and master gardener with a passion for soil health, small producers, forestry, and horticulture. Read More from Andy Wilcox