How to grow lisianthus

Contents

Starting Lisianthus From Seed

Lisianthus can be a challenge to start from seed because it’s very sensitive to temperatures over 75 degrees. Be careful to keep temperatures below this throughout the process or it will cause rosetting, or a resting stage. These resting stages can last for weeks or even months, making it hard to get young plants large enough to set out in your garden by spring.

Sow seeds in early winter (mid-December to January, or 16 to 22 weeks before your average last frost date). Because lisianthus seed is so fine, you’ll usually find it already pelleted. Saturate a good-quality, fine peat and vermiculite-type potting medium and spread the seed on top. Cover the container with a plastic dome or a plastic wrap secured with a rubber band to hold in the moisture. Place fluorescent or grow lights ½ to 1 inch above the cover on your container. The seeds should receive 16 hours of light per day until the seedlings start to emerge, in about 2 weeks. During this time keep the temperature constant — 70 to 75 degrees.

Remove the dome or plastic once the seedlings start to emerge, and adjust the lights so they’re 1½ to 2 inches above the top of the plants. Nighttime temperatures can be cooler now — 60 to 65 degrees. But don’t let them drop much below 60 degrees. Water the growing medium from the bottom now and keep it moist to the touch, not saturated. Provide good ventilation. You may start feeding with a calcium-based fertilizer (13-2-13) at half strength once a week now. At the end of this stage, roots and the first leaves, or cotyledons, have developed.

Transplant the seedlings into 4-packs after 7 to 8 weeks, when the seedlings have developed 2 or 3 sets of true leaves. At this stage, the seedlings are not as prone to rosetting, so it’s not as critical to keep temperatures below 75 degrees. As you move them, grasp a leaf and use a small spoon to scoop out as much of the medium with the roots as possible, as the roots are very sensitive. Plant the seedlings so that the bottom leaves are just above the mix. Continue to bottom water the containers, but increase the feeding to half-strength every watering. Let the medium dry out a little between watering now.

Move the young plants out to the garden when they are 3 to 4 inches high and have 3 to 4 sets of true leaves (usually around the end of May or beginning of June). Place them outside for gradually longer periods of time to harden them for a couple of weeks first. Then plant them in moist, well-drained soil where they will get at least 6 hours of sun a day. The plants bloom from July to frost if you keep them deadheaded.

Growing Lisianthus Flowers – Information On Lisianthus Care

Growing lisianthus, also known as Texas bluebell, prairie gentian or prairie rose and botanically called Eustoma grandiflorum, adds elegant, upright color to the summer garden in all USDA hardiness zones. Lisianthus plants also brighten mixed container plantings. Lisianthus flowers are popular in cut flower arrangements too.

The showy lisianthus flowers, similar to a rose, not only come in shades of blue and lilac, but pink, pale green and white as well. Blooms may be single or double. Some plants have ruffled edges and darker coloration on the edge and in the center.

While some information about lisianthus plants says it is not recommended to mix colors together when growing them in containers, most resources say the opposite provided that you choose similar types, as there are varieties that may grow too tall for containers. Plants reach 24 to 30 inches in height, unless growing one of the dwarf varieties, which are most suitable to growing in pots.

How to Grow Lisianthus

Lisianthus plants can grow from tiny seeds if you have the right environment, but are most often bought as bedding plants. Growers report that seed-grown plants may take 22 to 24 weeks to develop, so when planning to grow lisianthus in the home garden, make it easy on yourself and purchase already growing seedlings.

Don’t delay when transplanting purchased seedlings of lisianthus plants, as becoming root bound and remaining in the small container may permanently stunt growth. Planting time for the lisianthus plant varies according to where you live. In areas with freezing temperatures, plant them when danger of frost and freezing is past. In warmer southern zones, plant as early as March.

Lisianthus care includes planting small bedding plants into well-draining soil in a sunny area. Plant 6 to 8 inches apart to allow the multi-branching stems to support one another. Lisianthus care may also include staking heavily blooming plants that become top heavy.

Growing Lisianthus for Cut Flowers

If you have this happy situation when growing lisianthus, don’t hesitate to remove the top flowers for indoor bouquets. Cut flowers of the lisianthus plant last up to two weeks in water.

Popularity of their use as cut flowers allows one to find them year round at many florists. When growing lisianthus in the home garden, you may be happily surprised at how long the blooming season is for healthy plants.

Keep the soil moist, but avoid overwatering and cease watering when the plant is dormant. Learning how to grow lisianthus is a joy in the flowerbed and provides exotic, long lasting blooms for the indoor arrangement.

How to Grow Lisianthus from Seed

Most people consider the gorgeous rose-like flowers of lisianthus to be an exotic (and expensive) florist flower, or sometimes as an exotic and expensive bedding plant.

Lisianthus—called “Lizzies” by nurserymen and other aficionados—produce numerous large (about 2”-3”) rose-like flowers in deep blue, white, pink, or red on a plant with light green succulent foliage. The plant grows from one to three feet in height.

Lizzies are a favorite florist flower for bridal bouquets. I first saw them used as a bedding plant about twenty years ago at a church in Prairie Village, Kansas, where the double blue, rose-like flowers had been planted in a bed in front of a statue of the Blessed Virgin—someone having judged that these “blue roses” would be a fitting tribute.

In their wild form, Lizzies are entirely native to the United States, under the scientific names Eustoma exaltatum, Eustoma exaltatum ssp. Russellianum, and Eustoma exaltatum ssp. exaltatum—more than you wanted to know, I suspect—and they are known by the common names Texas Bluebell and Prairie Gentian. (Other common names include: Blue Marsh Lily, Bluebell Gentian, Catchfly Prairie Gentian, Small Bluebell, and Western Blue Gentian.)

These are some of the most glamorous of our native wildflowers and, perhaps because of their nearly irresistible beauty, they have been harvested to near extinction within their range, which is along the southern coastal regions from Florida through Texas to California, and up the West Coast.

These lovely Texas Bluebells, or Prairie Gentians, were not scorned when they came to the attention of plant breeders in Europe and Asia. The present-day Lizzies represent 70 years of work by Japanese breeders, which has produced a wide range of colors and large double flowers.

LISIANTHUS SEED-SOWING REQUIREMENTS: Patience, Surface Sowing, Continually Moist Sowing Medium, Light, and More Patience

Lisianthus was first introduced in the US in the early 1980s, although they didn’t come to my personal attention until the late 1980s. I was able to grow them from seed to bloom with a high level of success on the first try.

This is because Lizzies—which are sometimes claimed to be difficult for the amateur to grow from seed—are actually easy from seed, and the germination rate is excellent! Every seed you sow should eventually produce a sturdy plant with many glorious blooms.

WHEN TO START SEEDS INDOORS

The main requirement for growing lisianthus successfully from seed is patience. Lots of patience. Lisianthus requires about a six-month growing period from seed-sowing to flower. In my area, at the northern edge of Zone 6, where we have a six-month growing season and an average last frost date of April 15th, seeds should be sown indoors, preferably under plant lights about the beginning of January, or even as early as mid-December.

TEMPERATURE

Germination takes two to three weeks at temperatures of 70° to 75°. Seedlings require light to germinate, so they will need to go in a sunny window or be placed under plant lights.

LIZZIE SEEDS NEED LIGHT TO GERMINATE; DO NOT COVER SEED

As with all seeds that require light to germinate, the seeds must not be covered. This is especially important for Lizzies, because the seeds are very tiny and sowing is simply a matter of lightly pressing the seeds into damp soil medium. Follow this same procedure, even if using pelleted seeds.

The way to sow Lizzies is to put pre-moistened growing medium into the container of your choice and then gently press the seeds into the surface of the damp medium.

Seeds must be kept moist until germination, preferably without surface watering, which might disturb the seeds and bury them under the sowing medium. I have suggested peat pots or cells, because they allow for easy bottom-watering, which is critical to avoid disturbing the surface-sown seeds. The easiest way to keep seeds and sowing medium continually moist is to cover the containers with plastic bags.

I used packages of peat planting cells, filled them with moist seed-starting medium, pressed the seeds into the surface of each cell, bottom-watered the peat cells by setting them in a shallow pan of water, and tucked the 8-celled peat containers into plastic bags.

It’s a good idea to bottom-water peat cells and peat pots after sowing seeds, because the dry peat may suck all the moisture out of the planting medium.

KEEP MOIST; BOTTOM-WATER TO AVOID DISTURBING THE SEEDS

Peat cell packs or peat pots work well because they are easily bottom-watered. If the sowing medium begins starts to dry out—which is a distinct possibility over 14-21 days—just set the peat cell pack or peat pots in a shallow pan of water and allow them to absorb moisture from the bottom. Once the medium is moist again, return the containers to their plastic bags.

PATIENCE

When people remark that Lizzie seedlings are very slow-growing, they are not kidding. Seedlings are likely to reach only about ½” in height two months after germinating.

As with most seedlings that are started indoors, Lizzies benefit from transplanting to individual containers a month or so before transplanting outdoors. They should be transplanted to individual containers when the seedlings have developed their second set of true leaves.

Transplant Lizzies outdoors to the flowerbed after all danger of frost has passed. Harden them off before transplanting outdoors by moving them outdoors for gradually increasing periods of time over a period of about three days.

If planted outdoors in April, you will probably have your first blooms in June.

Can Lizzies Be Over-Wintered Indoors and Re-Planted Outdoors Next Spring?

YES!

As you know, you went to one heck of a lot of trouble raising these beauties from seed. It would be nice not to have to repeat the entire process every year.

Lizzies are actually a tender perennial—meaning that they would be perennial in a frost-free climate—so by all means pot them up and bring them indoors to over-winter in a sunny location until they can be planted back outdoors next spring.

Lizzies that are brought indoors before the first frost not only thrive, but are likely to continue to bloom indoors until Thanksgiving! Is that a treat, or what?

When flowering stems are spent, it is best to cut them back, so that each pot contains only the basal rosette of leaves. Treat them as you would most other houseplants, giving water only after the potting medium has dried out.

How many years will Lizzies live, if over-wintered indoors? Plants and flowers, like all other creatures, have a life-span that is typical of their particular species. We know, for example, that dogs don’t live as long as humans, and giant sequoias live a lot longer than elms and cottonwoods.

Perennial flowers likewise have variable life-expectancies, and some perennial flowers are often described as annuals because they are short-lived perennials, or because they are best treated as annuals, or because not all varieties of the species are reliably perennial.

What we have with Lizzies is a perennial flower whose development into gorgeous varieties is fairly recent. People are only beginning to recognize that it is feasible to over-winter them indoors. I suspect that their expected life-span varies depending on variety, and is actually unknown.

So, when it comes to over-wintering Lizzies indoors over a period of several years, I doubt if there is a definite answer to that question at this time, especially for a specific cultivar. As Erma Bombeck put it, “You are on our own, Bernice.”

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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Five Tricks to Growing Fantastic Field Lisianthus

NEWLY UPDATED 2019 POST AVAILABLE BY CLICKING HERE.

When I first started designing for weddings, nearly every couple asked me for roses. My first season, I stuttered a good bit, trying to explain how I didn’t have them because they are very challenging to grow organically in our climate. I didn’t mention that I also happen to strongly dislike roses. Too much fuss, and I hate those thorns! I realized pretty quickly that I needed to have a good alternative to offer if I was going to be successful as a wedding florist. Enter lisianthus – a far superior rose!

I remember my first ASCFG conference and listening to experienced growers debate the merits and shortcomings of lisianthus. I got the decided impression that they were hard to grow. So when I started growing them myself, I was so surprised at how easy they were. Lisianthus are now one of our top crops in terms of quantities and sales, second only to the dahlias. Realizing that there are currently a lot of new growers, especially farmer florists, in our membership, I thought it might be a great time to demystify this crop that really is ridiculously easy to grow with a few tried-and-true tricks up your sleeve.

It is important to note that all our lisianthus at Love ‘n Fresh Flowers are grown in the field. You do not need a greenhouse or hoophouse to grow beautiful lisianthus.


1. Plant Early
Just about everyone knows how slow growing lisianthus are. If you don’t, you’ll soon find out with your first crop. What is maybe less common knowledge is how cold/frost tolerant lisianthus are since these blooms are most often associated with the high heat of summer. While the plants love the heat to throw up their flouncy blooms, they actually also love cool temperatures for putting on root growth, which is what ultimately supports tall and bountiful harvests.

As such, we are religious about putting our lisianthus in the ground, out in the field, on April 1st each year, regardless of the spring conditions. The tiny rosettes hug the ground and therefore are well protected against freezing and frost. If the weather is particularly nasty, we will cover them with a layer of frost blanket, but that’s rare.

To get them in the ground April 1st, we make sure to talk to our plug broker in November so the plug grower(s) have enough time to get our plugs going. While we grow 99% of what we have at the farm from seed ourselves, lisianthus is the one crop that I will never bother to grow from seed again. Instead, we get our plugs from our supplier(s) the last week of February or the first week of March in 210s and typically bump them up to two inch soil blocks as soon as we get them and grow on in those for a month until planting out.

This early planting date gives the plants plenty of time to put on growth before the heat of summer and also gives them a bit of an edge over those tenacious summer weeds.


2. Weed Management
Speaking of weeds, if you’re going to grow lisianthus, you need to have a serious weed management game plan in place for them. Because these plants stay small for several months and most of the leaves are at the base as a rosette, aggressive weeds, especially creepers like crabgrass, will quickly overtake plants and smother them. This is a high value crop worth investing in so I gladly pay for a plastic mat system called FloraFlow (www.floraflow.com) that comes with pre-punched holes that are only two inches in diameter so there’s very little room for weeds to grow up though the holes. It also keeps the lisianthus cropping system very tidy and efficiently spaced as a whole so we can fit a lot of plants into a small amount of space.

But plastic is not a silver bullet for weeds. We make weeding the lisianthus top priority around the farm. It’s much easier on us and better for the crop if we weed early and often rather than waiting until the situation is dire and we pull up as many young lisianthus as we do weeds. So put some reminders on your calendar to get those lisianthus weeded at least every two weeks if you have decent weed pressure at your farm. Make sure to water well immediately after each weeding so that the delicate roots get re-settled into the ground.


3. Feeding
We grow organically at our farm so we rely on regular foliar applications of fish and kelp emulsion to feed our lisianthus. When prepping the beds in the spring, we amend them with compost, cotton seed meal and green potash. We have a really nice loamy clay soil at our farm that the lisianthus love because it holds water but does not stay wet. I suspect that growing this crop in sandy soils or heavy clay might be more challenging, but I don’t have experience with that.


4. Selection
As with all flowers, you need to consider your end buyer before you make any decisions about which lisianthus varieties to grow. We use all our lisianthus “in house”, mostly for weddings and occasionally for straight bunches sold through our grocery store accounts. As such, we have the luxury of being able to grow some of the shorter varieties that hold up better to bad storms and do not need netting and some of the oddball colors like Roseanne Brown. But if you are selling wholesale mostly to florists, you will be expected to grow the taller varieties since stem length (sadly, in my opinion) means more money. If you’re selling mostly at a farmers market, you probably should avoid Roseanne Brown because all your customers are going to think it looks dead (and frankly, it does). So, before you start drooling over every cool photo in the catalog, think carefully about who’s going to be buying from you.

Something to also consider when choosing lisianthus varieties is if you want to net them in the field or not. I’m going to be honest: I hate netting. I’m working hard to get away from it as much as possible at our farm. It’s expensive, both to purchase and to put up every season (mucho man hours) and it makes harvesting so much slower and often a bit wasteful with all the broken stems, especially when it comes to brittle lisianthus. So we’ve been net-free on our lisianthus for two seasons now. This means that some old favorites have been given the boot (ABC 3-4 Pink, I’m looking at you) and a lot of new varieties have been trialed specifically to find out if they’ll stay upright on their own, even in our wicked summer storms here in the Mid-Atlantic. Some varieties that have done particularly well for us without netting are ABC 3-4 White, Echo Champagne, Echo Lavender, and Rosanne Green.

Like snapdragons, lisianthus are segmented into bloom-time categories so you will sometimes see numbers associated with variety names (i.e., ABC 3-4 White). Also like snapdragons, I have found that programing blooms in the field is much harder than it would be in a greenhouse, which is where that number system were developed. Inevitably, your lisianthus are going to bloom pretty much all at once when field grown. Be prepared for this with a sales outlet eager to buy them as soon as you pick them. There was an article in a recent Quarterly that talked about experimenting with pinching lisianthus. We did not have a chance to try pinching to stagger the blooms this year, but plan to give it a go next year.


5. Second Flush
Assuming you were diligent in getting your plugs into the ground in early April, in the Mid-Atlantic area there is a long enough growing season to get a very nice second flush off of your lisianthus, usually sometime in early to mid-September. This second flush is much welcomed at our farm since it’s perfectly timed for our very full autumn wedding season.

To get a good second flush, you need to do a few important tasks. First, when you harvest the first flush of blooms in July, make sure you are cutting the plants back almost to the base. Do not leave stumps of stems that will just result in weak secondary growth. Once you’ve gleaned all of your first flush of blooms, take time to thoroughly weed the bed, irrigate, and fertilize, ideally all on the same day. This gives the plants a huge boost and the signal to go ahead and put energy back into putting on new growth instead of shutting down. Then remember to be diligent about weeding every week or so thereafter. At our farm, we have to battle the crabgrass in particular in late July when it’s rampant.

Remember to keep your lisianthus well irrigated while it puts on this new growth in the middle of the heat of summer, especially every time after you weed. I try to spray again with fish and kelp emulsion as the new stems are beginning to get taller. Any and all TLC you can give the lisianthus while they put out the second growth will result in taller and more plentiful blooms in September.

Now is a great time to start thinking about what lisianthus plugs you want to order for next year!

Lisianthus

Lisianthus

Lisianthus, often favored by floral designers when an elegant flower is needed for an arrangement, it is the epitome of a classy, versatile flower. The opulent, ruffled petals and elegant buds come in many colors. The delicate-looking blooms are known for not only their beauty, but also their ability to hold up as a cut flower in a vase for up to 2 weeks or longer.

Despite the fact that this plant goes by the name Lisianthus, there is much discussion as to whether or not it has ever been included in that genus. Lisianthus has a storied past of botanical name changes and arguments over how it came to be.

genus name
  • Eustoma
light
  • Sun
plant type
  • Annual
height
  • 1 to 3 feet
width
  • 1 foot
flower color
  • Blue,
  • Purple,
  • White,
  • Pink
foliage color
  • Blue/Green
season features
  • Fall Bloom,
  • Summer Bloom
problem solvers
  • Drought Tolerant
special features
  • Low Maintenance,
  • Good for Containers,
  • Cut Flowers
propagation
  • Seed

Colorful Combinations

Given the overall class and elegance these blooms exude, it’s surprising that they native to ditches and grasslands in a few of the western states. Because they are accustomed to this harsh environment, they have very thick, waxy foliage to help prevent them from drying out. This also gives them a nice bluish-green cast to the foliage that accents the eye-catching blooms.

The blooms of lisianthus are truly what this plant is all about. One of the main things that sets these flowers apart from their more generic counterparts is that, they come in a range of colors: white, blue, purple, and pink as well as bicolor combinations of those hues. The colors also come in a single form, with simply one row of petals, or a double form with several rows of petals.

Check out our perfect pairing for a two-color garden with lisianthus.

Lisianthus Care Must-Knows

As a cut flower, the single flowered varieties are fairly susceptible to damage in transit, especially if the blooms are already fairly open. While the double blooms are a little better off, the petals can still be damaged pretty easily, especially the white varieties. So be sure to handle them with care. When selecting blooms, make sure to pick stems that are fairly far along, but not quite fully open. Buds that are too small and tight won’t open properly on their own.

When growing lisianthus, plan on investing some time in the crop. Lisianthus can take a very long time to grow from seed, sometimes as long as 15-20 months from the time of sowing to bloom. The seed of this plant is also so fine and dust-like that it also makes it hard to sow just a few plants at a time. As many of these varieties have been developed for cut flowers, some of these plants will require staking to make sure that they don’t flop. More recently, there have been varieties brought to market that are dwarf and much better for a home garden setting.

Learn how to stake and train lisianthus in your garden.

More Varieties of Lisianthus

‘Balboa White’ lisianthus

Eustoma ‘Balboa White’ offers double white blooms on 3-foot-tall plants.

‘Forever Blue’ lisianthus

This variety of Eustoma offers beautiful violet-purple flowers on compact, 10-inch-tall plants that don’t require staking.

‘Forever White’ lisianthus

Eustoma ‘Forever White’ is an award-winning selection with pure-white flowers on 10-inch-tall plants.

‘Lisa Pink’ lisianthus

This Eustoma selection offers single pink blooms on compact, 8-inch-tall plants.

Plant Lisianthus With:

Heat up your garden with ornamental peppers! Much like hot peppers you would grow in the veggie garden, ornamental peppers produce colorful little fruits that are round or pointed. But these are so attractive in their own right that they can be grown just for show — not eating. The peppers are indeed edible, but usually their flavor is lacking compared to peppers grown for the table.Depending on the variety, the peppers appear in shades of white, purple, red, orange, and yellow — often with multiple colors on the same plant. They like rich, well-drained soil that is evenly moist.Shown above: Calico pepper

You’ve gotta love annual vinca — it really delivers. It will tolerate a wide variety of conditions and still keep it up with almost unreal-looking, glossy green flowers and pretty pink, lavender, or red flowers that look like tiny parasols.Whether the summer is dry or wet, hot or cold, vinca plugs along unfazed. It makes a great container plant. Or plant it in a bed or border, grouping at least eight or more together for best effect.Plant established seedlings in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Vinca withstands drought but does best with moderate moisture. Fertilize occasionally. Like impatiens, this plant tends to be “self-cleaning” and needs little deadheading.Shown above: Pretty in Pink vinca

Want fast color for just pennies? Plant zinnias! A packet of seeds will fill an area with gorgeous flowers in an amazing array of shapes and colors — even green! And it will happen in just weeks. There are dwarf types of zinnias, tall types, quill-leaf cactus types, spider types, multicolor, special seed blends for cutting, special blends for attracting butterflies, and more.Zinnias are so highly attractive to butterflies that you can count on having these fluttering guests dining in your garden every afternoon. But to attract the most, plant lots of tall, red or hot pink zinnias in a large patch. ‘Big Red’ is especially nice for this, and the flowers are outstanding, excellent for cutting. Zinnias grow quickly from seed sown right in the ground and do best in full sun with dry to well-drained soil.

Top 10 cut flowers to grow at home

There are plenty of cut flowers that you can grow at home, but if you need some inspiration take a look at our top 10 favourites.

You don’t need to be a florist to get the best from your cut flowers either. There are lots of handy tips that you can employ to make your blooms last longer in the vase. Here are a just a few to get you started.

Keep your cut flowers looking good for longer

Cut flower stems at an angle to prevent the stem resting on the bottom of the vase and sealing itself over. Angular cuts also great a larger surface area for water uptake.

Strip any foliage from stems that would sit below water level in a vase as these will simply decay, becoming slimy and smelly.

Always use a thoroughly clean vase as bacteria can survive in dirty vases and reduce the life of your cut flowers.

Always use tepid water in your vases. Cold water has a higher oxygen content, which can cause air bubbles to form in the stems of your flowers, blocking their water uptake. Spring bulbs such as tulips and daffodils are the exception to this rule as they prefer to be placed in cold water.

Add a splash of bleach to the water to inhibit bacterial growth and make your flower last longer. You only need to add about ¼ teaspoon per litre of water. You can also try adding a tablespoon of sugar as this will help to nourish the flowers.

Position your vase carefully. The vase life of your cut flowers will be reduced if they are placed close to heat, draughts or direct sunlight.

Keep cut flowers away from fruit bowls as fruit produces ethylene which causes cut flowers to die prematurely.

Remove any dead or fading blooms to prevent bacteria damaging the healthy flowers.

Change the water every few days, refreshing any flower feed and preservatives at the same time.

Grow your own cut flowers

Growing cut flowers at home is easy if you choose the right plants. You don’t need to set aside a special area of your garden – simply mix the plants in among your herbaceous borders, or grow some in containers outside the back door. You can even add a few rows to your vegetable plot. Take some inspiration from our top 10 favourite cut flowers for some of the best cut flowers to grow in your own garden.

1. Sweet pea (Vase life: 3-7 days)

The ultimate ‘cut and come again’ cut flower! Once a popular glasshouse cut flower, these beautiful blooms are mainly garden grown nowadays. There are plenty of colours to choose from, but a good mix of shades makes the prettiest posies. Old fashioned Grandiflora types often have the best scent such as Sweet Pea ‘Heirloom Mixed’. But the popular modern ‘Spencer’ varieties such as Sweet Pea ‘Alan Titchmarsh’ combine fragrance, larger blooms and longer stems that are ideal for flower arrangements.

Sue’s Top Tip: It’s important to cut Sweet Peas regularly to encourage more blooms. Cut the flowers just as the lowest bloom is opening and put them in water immediately for a longer vase life.

2. Lily (Vase life: 8-10 days)

You’ll only need a few lily stems to make a dramatic and exotic-looking cut flower display. There are lots of different lily species that you can grow as a cut flower, but oriental Lilies are the most popular for their fragrance and glamorous trumpet shaped blooms. To avoid problematic pollen stains on clothes and furniture, try gently removing the stamens from lilies as they open. You can solve this problem entirely by growing sterile double varieties such as Tree Lily ‘Crystal Collection’ which are completely pollen free.

Sue’s Top Tip: When cutting lily stems from the garden it’s important to leave a third of the stem intact in order to feed the bulb for the following year.

3. Sunflower (Vase life: 7-10 days)

Sunflowers make the cheeriest cut flowers and never fail to raise a smile. They’re very easy to grow and won’t require any special attention – simply sow them directly into the ground where you want them to flower. For cutting it’s best to choose multi-headed varieties such as Sunflower ‘Harlequin’ to give you lots of blooms. Cut the stems just before the flowers fully open, and strip the lower foliage from the stem leaving just a few leaves at the top to help fill out your bouquet.

Sue’s Top Tip: Sunflowers are best cut with sharp secateurs early in the morning or late in the evening while temperatures are cool.

4. Tulip (Vase life: Up to 7 days)

Tulips are among the earliest flowers for cutting in the garden. They come in such a range of colours that you’ll be spoiled for choice. Try our popular Tulip ‘Everlasting’ Mixture or Tulip ‘Red Impression’ for a stunning mix of shades. You can help your tulips to last longer in the vase by cutting their stems underwater to prevent air entering the stems. Tulips are thirsty cut flowers so you’ll need to keep their water topped up on a daily basis.

Sue’s Top Tip: Although they may come into flower at the same time, never be tempted to mix Tulips in a vase with Daffodils. Narcissus species exude a substance that prevents your tulips (and other cut flowers) from taking up water.

5. Gladiolus (Vase life: 7-10 days)

The flamboyant, tall stems of Gladioli are superb for adding height and drama to flower arrangements. There are plenty to choose from and modern hybrids such asGladiolus ‘Tango’ and Gladiolus ‘Green Star’ bring a really fresh palette of contemporary colours to your vase. Cut gladiolus flowers just as the lowest two or three florets begin to open, but try to leave as many leaves as possible to feed the bulb for next year. Gladiolus flowers will generally all reach maturity at about the same time, but if you want to prolong the cutting season then try to stagger planting at two week intervals so that they mature at different times.

Sue’s Top Tip: When growing Gladiolus specifically for cutting, plant them in rows in the vegetable patch. This makes them much easier to harvest.

6. Roses (Vase life: 4-7 days)

What list of cut flowers would be complete without the quintessential rose. Growing roses for cut flowers takes a little more work than growing them as garden shrubs, but the results are well worth the effort. Choose varieties carefully to ensure the nicest forma and longest stems. Try hybrid tea rose ‘The One and Only’ or the delightful trailing rose ‘Waterfall Collection’ for hanging baskets. For informal clusters of flowers grow repeat flowering floribunda roses for a longer cutting period and a more relaxed feel to your bouquets. Roses grown as cut flowers will require heavy feeding to produce the best results. It is worth noting for the benefit of organic gardeners that protecting roses against blackspot may well require spraying with fungicides.

Sue’s Top Tip: When growing roses as cut flowers, be ruthless and remove any poorly placed flower buds that are unlikely to make good cut flowers to direct energy into the best blooms.

7. Eucalyptus (Vase life: More than 21 days)

The silvery-blue foliage of eucalyptus gunnii makes fantastic filler for vases, bouquets and larger flower arrangements. Its attractive rounded leaves provide shape and texture that blends well with both formal and more relaxed displays. Eucalyptus has a sensational vase life, easily lasting more than 3 weeks, and is often the ‘last man standing’ in floral displays!

Sue’s Top Tip: Florists use the juvenile foliage of Eucalyptus which is more rounded and attractive than that found on mature plants. Grow your Eucalyptus as a coppiced plant, pruning hard each year to encourage a constant supply of immature stems for cutting.

8. Dianthus (Vase life: 14-21 days)

Dianthus (including Carnations, Pinks and Sweet Williams) are some of the best known of all cut flowers. Carnations such as ‘Ever-blooming Mixed’ provide traditional Carnation flowers, but it’s worth trying something different if you are growing your own flowers for cutting. How about Dianthus ‘Purple Rain’ for its unusual colouring or the extraordinary blooms of Dianthus ‘Green Trick’ which have taken the cut flower world by storm? And don’t forget the lovely fragrance of Pinks which make superb posies. Regular cutting will help to ensure a long flowering season to give you an ongoing supply of blooms.

Sue’s Top Tip: Avoid standing carnation arrangements in direct light as they will quickly fade.

9. Peonies (Vase life: 5-7 days)

Peonies are prized for their beautiful, large blooms. Just a few stems are enough to create a stunning arrangement with a big impact. Herbaceous Peonies such as ‘Eden’s Perfume’ are a great choice although they do have a relatively short flowering season. Double varieties should be cut when the buds feel soft between your finger and thumb, just before they open. Cutting double peonies too early may prevent the buds from opening so it’s worth being patient with them. Single flowered peonies can be cut at a slightly less advanced stage if necessary, while the buds are swollen but still firm.

Sue’s Top Tip: Use restraint when growing peonies as cut flowers. Take just a few blooms from each plant and avoid cutting stems from plants that are less than three years old.

10. Gypsophila (Vase life: Up to 7 days)

Gypsophila makes particularly useful filler for softening bouquets and adding a frothy haze of tiny flowers to your cut flower arrangements. This well loved cut flower can be sown outdoors each spring where they are to flower. Stagger the sowings to prolong the flowering season and provide you with plenty of blooms. Before cutting each stem it’s best to wait until most of the flowers on the stem have opened.

Sue’s Top Tip: Keep vases away from fruit bowls. Gypsophila like many flowers is particularly sensitive to ethylene given off by fruit and vegetables which causes cut flowers to deteriorate faster.

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A Guide to Growing Your Own Cutting Flowers

The only thing better than flowers blooming in your garden is fresh, colorful flowers in your house. With a bit of strategic planting, you can have fresh flowers in every room of your home. While any vase of flowers is welcome, there are certain species particularly suited for vase life. This is why many gardeners plant a “cutting garden” specifically for arrangements and bouquets.

If you’ve never cut armloads of flowers from their stems, you might be surprised at the emotions you feel during your first “harvest.” On one hand, you’re thrilled to have these beauties inside your home for pennies on the dollar. On the other, you might feel some guilt that you’re stripping the garden of its beauty.

Don’t let that guilt get the best of you! You’re soon going to be so tickled that you planted a cutting garden. Remember two things:

1. You are growing cutting flowers specifically to bring them inside to enjoy.

2. For many plants (particularly annuals), cutting off the flowers encourages more blossoms to show up in their place.

Of course, you’ll need to learn a little about the differences between annuals and perennials. You might prefer one or you might like some of each. Hint: Both types bring something to the cutting garden table.

Annuals germinate, flower, and die all in the same year. Their goal – in the name of species survival – is to produce as many flowers as possible within their lifespan, so they tend to bloom again and again during the same season. When planning your beds, remember that you will be pulling these plants out or turning them under the soil once they are spent. This gives you a lot of flexibility.

Perennials are the gift that keeps on giving. They die back at the end of the season, only to reappear the following year bigger and bolder than ever. You can easily propagate (create more plants) many types of perennials by dividing the root ball in the third or fourth year.

Perennial plants usually remain in their bed for many years. So you’ll want to give them an undisturbed permanent space. One exception is dahlias, which are tubers that may need to be uprooted, stored, and then replanted year-to-year.

Prepare Your Flower Beds

You can trust that your flowers actually want to grow, but there are some things you can do to ensure their success. Flowers perform best when they are given a site and soil that they love. Although the “perfect” location will vary according to species and environment, in general a good setting is one that receives full sun, eight to ten hours a day.

Dahlias are one of my favorite cutting flowers, so I always have one annuals bed in the full sun and another that receives light or dappled afternoon shade. I live in a part of Northern California where summers produce intense afternoon sunshine, and dahlias simply can’t take the late-day beating.

This shows how important it is to know something about your own climate and growing zone. If you’re new to gardening, contact a local nursery or find out if your area has a master gardeners group.

Next, decide whether to grow your flowers directly in the ground or in raised beds. In this, too, each approach has advantages.

In-Ground Garden Beds

It might surprise you to know that in-ground beds eventually become my favorites. They require more effort, but I enjoy nurturing every bit of earth I can find until I have the rich, loamy soil that plants love. In-ground beds are less confining, leaving you room to easily broaden them if necessary. The trade-off here is that it’ll take several years for the garden to reach its full potential. When it comes to super flower production, the magic technique is to use copious amounts of compost (decomposing organic matter). I have an endless supply of rabbit, horse, goat, and chicken manure, but you should be able to find good compost mixes at your local nursery.

Raised Garden Beds

Most people I know prefer to start with raised beds, and I can see why. Considering that you’ll likely use bagged soil to fill the bed, you’re practically guaranteed control over the soil. Having everything confined to a box means less soil erosion and, as you’ll be using your own blend of soil, compost, and so on, you should also have good tilth. So the raised bed has both good drainage and water retention at the same time. Being taller, these beds can make maintenance tasks such as planting, weeding, and feeding easier. Plus, raised beds warm up faster and hold heat longer, which means an extended growing season on either end.

Whether you plant directly into the ground or use a raised bed, always aim for nutrient-rich soil that’s friable and porous. The soil should have a full, forest-floor aroma and resemble coffee grounds in your hands. One of the best ways to achieve this state of soil nirvana is by adding plenty of compost to your beds all year round.

Six Tips for Growing Flowers for Special Occasions

Growing cutting flowers for your home can be the gateway to something bigger. Many people decide to grow them for a special occasion, such as a wedding, anniversary, birthday party, or other event. To those adventurous souls, I offer some advice:

1. Do your research. If you’ve never grown flowers for an event before, plant only those that are supposed to grow in your zone during the time of your event. Don’t make it harder on yourself and the plants by forcing something to perform during the wrong season. Leave that to the pros.

2. Grow special-purpose flowers in a greenhouse or hoop house, if possible. A more controlled environment is the best defense against the elements, fickle weather, and some garden pests.

3. Part of the temptation to grow your own cutting flowers is to save money. If this is a major event, consider growing only the greens and filler plants. You’ll still save cash but you’ll have less pressure. Spend a little on the larger, special blooms produced by a flower farm or floral designer.

4. Double your chances of success by having a friend duplicate your plantings in their own garden.

5. Read below to learn about “succession planting,” which will help ensure that you have the correct number of flowers at the correct stage of bloom for your event.

6. Have a local flower farmer on speed-dial should Mother Nature pull a fast one on you.

Succession Planting

Succession planting means staggering planting times in order to have a consistent flower or crop production. It’s most often done with annuals. To master this technique, you need to understand and plan for both the species you want to grow and your climate.

It goes something like this: You plant zinnias, either as seeds or starts (young plants already started in a greenhouse). The following week you plant another group and the next week another group. You can stagger the plantings from one to three weeks apart–the timing will depend on how long a species takes from seed to bloom, as well as how warm your climate is. The longer the growing season, the more plantings you can do.

You can see why succession planting is perfect if you’re planning for a special occasion. Not only does it give you more flowers for a longer period of time, it’s also a way to hedge your bets in order to get the amount of flowers you need at the right stage of bloom.

Once you’ve grown your own cutting flowers, you’ll never want to be without them again. Start with the easiest varieties, but be sure to add a new variety or two each year. After a few seasons, you’ll discover which flowers thrive in your garden and bring you the most joy.

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Getting Started in Cut-Flowers • Top 15 Tier-1 Cuts

In their first season, the Williamses ordered Johnny’s Cut Flower Kit for Market Growers.

Mike and Rita Williams own WilMor Farms in Metter, Georgia, and they credit their friend Rita Anders for mentoring their farming journey. When the two Ritas get together, as they did recently at the Southern Flower Symposium, they jokingly call themselves “Dos Ritas.”

As newer flower farmers, the Williams grow most of their flowers from seed. They have found that following Rita Anders’s advice has been essential, since their Zones are technically the same and their Georgia climate generally similar to what her Texas farm experiences.

Rita and Mike initially wanted to see if they could juggle cut-flower farming as a family activity to involve their four children, ages 8 to 14. The experiment has paid off, and nowadays the family regularly brings beautiful, uncommon floral bunches and bouquets to three regional farmers’ markets.

In 2015, their first season, the Williamses ordered Johnny’s Cut Flower Kit for Market Growers, which includes 1000 seeds each of ‘Sunbright’, ‘Sunrich Orange’, and ‘ProCut Orange’ sunflowers, as well as a half-ounce of ‘Versailles Mix’ cosmos seeds and 500 seeds of ‘Benary’s Giant Mix’ zinnia.

“It was the perfect amount,” Rita Williams recalls. “Enough for us to get a taste of what flower farming would be like.” The family grew everything that came in the kit, planting their one-eighth acre with several rows of cosmos, zinnias, and sunflowers, as well as celosia.

The following season, in 2016, they dove right in. Today, WilMor Farms regularly sells mixed bouquets and straight bunches at markets in Statesboro and Augusta, Georgia, as well as in Columbia, South Carolina. Rita offers the following tips on a few of her favorites.

4 • Celosia

“The one thing we hear over and over from customers is, ‘Your bouquets are so natural-looking; so organic.’ The plume celosia add that element.”
— Rita Williams, WilMor Farms, Metter, Georgia

This is a crowd favorite at WilMor Farms’ market stalls, Rita Williams says. “Our children call the crested version ‘brain flowers,’ and we joke about it being the ‘smartest’ flower we grow. When someone asks, ‘What is this flower?’ nine times out of ten they are pointing to our celosias. It’s a flower that gets conversations started with customers. Plus, it adds such a distinct texture to our bouquets.”

The Williams do not direct-sow their celosia seeds due to a regular problem with field mice. “We plant everything in soil blocks; then we later transplant into the field,” Rita Williams explains.

Typically, the crested celosia (Celosia argentea cristata), is planted six-by-six, which means 6 rows with 6-inch spacing between seedlings. “We also plant some celosia closer together to produce smaller flower crests and use 9-inch spacing to produce larger-headed blooms,” she says.

Rita Williams raves about the plumose celosia (Celosia argentea plumosa) with equal enthusiasm. “These feathered varieties are so pretty. I don’t want to call it a ‘filler’ flower because it does more than just fill — it gives a different texture to our bouquets. The one thing we hear over and over from customers is, ‘Your bouquets are so natural-looking; so organic.’ The plume celosia add that element.” This season, the farm’s top pick is ‘Flamingo Feather,’ a blush variety. “We’re going to grow much, much more of that next year,” Rita Williams says.

Because frost rarely arrives until after Thanksgiving, WilMor Farms does a final planting of its best summer annuals around September 15th. “We start sunflowers, zinnias, and celosias in soil blocks, then those will take us through to the Thanksgiving markets,” she notes.

3 • Rudbeckia Redux

When asked to name her go-to variety of the annual black-eyed Susan, Rita Williams says she couldn’t live without Rudbeckia triloba.

When asked to name her go-to variety of the annual black-eyed Susan, Rita Williams says she couldn’t live without Rudbeckia triloba. “I was influenced by a visit to Rita Anders’s farm in Texas. After seeing her bouquets, I knew I had to be more purposeful about planting annuals that I could use as filler. What has changed our bouquets the most has been adding Rudbeckia triloba and basils.”

This prized rudbeckia has a main stalk with multiple side shoots bearing tiny bright yellow flowers with small, black-brown centers. Some may discount it as a filler flower, but at WilMor Farms, the branching structure enhances the floral design process. “We start our bouquets with stems of the Rudbeckia triloba and then add focal flowers between the branches,” Rita Williams explains. “The children actually make most of our market bouquets!”

5 • Basil

Basil is another must-grow bouquet element for Rita Williams, echoing the enthusiasm of her mentor Rita Anders. “I don’t ever want to sell a bouquet that doesn’t have scent again,” Rita Williams declares. “We have received so much positive feedback on our bouquets with basil, and I’m glad we were purposeful growing it.”

It’s been nearly 60 years since ‘Dark Opal’ basil was named an AAS Winner, but its aromatic variegated foliage, pretty pink flower spikes, versatility and adaptability hold its spot in the cutting gardens of today.

Like Rita Anders, the Williamses grow lemon and ‘Cinnamon’ basil varieties as cuts. After starting in soil blocks, they transplant seedlings around April 1st. “We were able to start cutting at the end of May and by September, we were still harvesting our basil,” Rita Williams says. “We try to start some each month so we continually have a fresh (crop) of basil. I use the cuts without and with the flower, which adds a different feel to a bouquet. I’ve not had anybody complain about the flowers shedding.”

Rita Anders grows three types of basil for foliage: African blue basil, a sterile hybrid of two other basil cultivars, is grown from cuttings, while lemon and ‘Cinnamon’ basil are seed-grown. “I love the lemon basil because it smells so good,” she raves. “I like ‘Cinnamon’ because it is licorice-y smelling and quite tough in the summer. We grow the lemon first and then add the ‘Cinnamon’ later in the season.”

6 • Dill

Generous with its long stems and broad blooms, ‘Bouquet’ is a dill cultivar that wears its name with style.

Rita Williams also categorizes dill as a “purposeful filler,” especially successful as an early-season crop. “Oh, mercy, do people love its smell. I’ve found that more than anything, people associate smell with memory. I didn’t realize that about flowers when we started farming, but flowers bring back so many memories for our customers — and they want to talk about them.”

‘Bouquet’ is an early-blooming cultivar that makes a lovely filler for cut-flower arrangements. Airy chartreuse flowers appear as highlights and combine well with almost any color arrangement.

7 • Ageratum

Comprised of long-flowering, long-lasting, taller ageratum cultivars, ‘Timeless Mix’ lends itself well to the cutting garden.

While often considered a bouquet “filler” for its small, lavender puff-of-a-flower, ageratum also has excellent foliage, Rita Anders says. “Ageratum has such beautiful leaves on it.”

‘Timeless Mix’ features a blend of taller cultivars with a long flowering period, making it a perfect choice for the cutting garden. Upright, sturdy stems produce tight clusters of flowers in purple, pink, blue, and white. A great gap-filler in bouquets.

8 • Amaranth

In Potomac, Montana, about 25 miles east of Missoula, Carly Jenkins and Jamie Rogers grow cut flowers at Killing Frost Farm. The farm is located in Zone 4b (average minimum winter temperature -20 to -25°F / -29 to -32 C).

When it comes to amaranth, “I don’t pinch,” says Carly of Killing Frost Farm; “I just let the plants be huge and cool.” Here she is with ‘Red Spike’.

When I called Carly to ask her about best cut flowers to grow from seed, she sang praises to amaranth. “I feel like anyone who is buying amaranth for a cut should check out the seeds that Johnny’s has in bulk,” she insisted. “You get such a great deal and you should plant it all.”

Carly starts some of her seeds in cell trays to coordinate her succession plantings in prepared rows. She also finds bare spots around her property for leftover amaranth. “I just toss them around. It’s crazy, but those seeds will take root wherever you toss the seed and just do their thing. I plant where I know they will get some moisture. I’ve even thrown seeds on patches of snow, because I know the soil is bare underneath. I just let nature take its course and now I have little amaranth forests everywhere!”

She likes to grow ‘Red Spike’ and ‘Hot Biscuits’ (Amaranthus cruentus) and the trailing ‘Love-Lies-Bleeding’ (Amaranthus caudatus) varieties. “I don’t pinch; I just let the plants be huge and cool. In the fall, I harvest and dry them for use in foam-free floral installations.”

The drying process mellows the colors, to Carly’s delight. “Love-lies-bleeding dries to a color that’s even more beautiful than when it’s fresh. It’s a dusty pink.”

9 • Ammi/Daucus

‘Dara’ produces abundant, attractive, lacy umbels in shades of dark purple, pink, and white.

“As soon as the ground is workable, in mid-May, I direct-sow ammi and daucus. I had really good results with them this year,” says Carly Jenkins. “I also overwintered a bed of ammi where I planted seeds last fall and that worked pretty well, too.”

With its long-lasting blooms, ammi makes an outstanding cut-flower filler. ‘Dara’ is a highly productive Daucus cultivar with 7–15 strong, sturdy, upright stems per plant topped by attractive, lacy umbels in shades of dark purple, pink, and white.

10 • Snapdragon

The Rocket Series and Potomac Series (our custom ‘Potomac Mix’ shown above) are categorically group 3–4, “main season” snapdragon types, meaning they perform best in late spring through summer into early fall, when light levels and warmth are at their peak. See our Snapdragon Tech Sheet for more information.

“Snaps are a big producer for us — and one we can cut on for the whole season,” Carly Jenkins says. “I stick to the classic Potomac Series and ‘Rocket Mix’. The stems stay strong enough through the second and third cuts — they are workhorses.”

Killing Frost Farm’s customer base includes brick-and-mortar flower retailers who like the standard snapdragons. “There’s nothing like locally-grown snapdragons,” Carly Jenkins says. “That is one of the most painful flowers (for me) to see shipped. I’ve processed them for florists for whom I’ve freelanced. When snaps are shipped in a box, they are so smashed and compressed. They don’t even look like the same flower as my fresh-cut snaps.”

She describes beginning her snapdragon seeds as follows. “I start them in an open flat and sow the seeds like you would microgreens, so I get a carpet of seedlings. Then I prick out the little guys once they get their first set of true leaves and bump them up into plug trays.” While that may seem like a lot of labor, Carly says the method works for her. “It’s a space-saving technique for me because I don’t have a huge seed-starting area. I can start the open flats under lights and then in a month, when I’m ready to bump the seeds up to cell trays, it has usually warmed up enough to put them in the transition house, where they are covered but don’t have heat.”

11 • Strawflower

Carly zeroes in on the needs of wedding and event florists with lots of white, cream, pale yellow, and blush options.

Carly Cavalier rents land in Washington’s Skagit Valley where she grows about a half-acre of cut flowers as Cairn Farm and sells them primarily through the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market (SWGM), a farmer-to-florist wholesale hub. Carly previously worked at SWGM so she draws from that experience, with insights into the preferences of area designers and florists.

“I saw what would sell and what didn’t sell, color-wise,” she says. Carly zeroed in on the needs of wedding and event florists, making sure to have lots of white, cream, pale yellow, and blush options in her crop planning.

“I grow dahlias, carnations, strawflower, ammobium, verbena, feather-top grass, and zinnias (Oklahoma, Profusion, and Persian carpet). I also grow smaller-headed and lighter-colored sunflowers, as well as a few rows of marigolds in different colors, cress, amaranth, larkspur, cosmos, feverfew and heirloom mums.”

It’s easy to see why Carly Cavalier’s outsized bouquet of ‘Silvery Rose’ strawflowers won accolades on Instagram.

She had no idea how well her strawflowers would be received, but one look at the SWGM’s Instagram feed speaks volumes. A July post featuring a bunch of ‘Silvery Rose’ strawflowers garnered more than 1,800 likes. “I was kind of taken aback over how big a deal strawflower became this season. It’s definitely become one of my top crops,” Carly Cavalier says. “It looks cool when it’s fresh; you can also dry it, which opens up a whole new world of possibility for the crop. I grew Johnny’s ‘Vintage White’, ‘Silvery Rose’, and ‘Apricot/Peach Mix’ strawflower seeds. I also bought seeds of a vintage white variety from a woman in Ireland.”

She earmarked the single-color strawflowers for florists and offered mixed strawflower bunches to grocery channels. “The nice thing about strawflower is that anything we don’t sell at the end of the week, I take home and hang up to dry,” Carly Cavalier explains. “At the end of summer, I bring it back to the market as dried strawflowers, when customers are looking for materials to make fall wreaths.”

She uses soil-blocking to start strawflower seeds, with 50 blocks per tray. “There was one variety that didn’t have a great germination rate on the packet, so I seeded two or three seeds per block and it seemed to work out fine.” The trays go from heat mats to lights, then Carly moves them outside to a low hoop tunnel before planting into prepared rows. “The only thing I would recommend is staking it, with netting, because of the wind’s tendency to knock it over. I’ll definitely do that next year.”

12 • Cosmos

Cairn Farm’s ‘Fizzy White’ cosmos are always in demand for weddings.

Cosmos are another of Cairn Farm’s bestselling cut flowers. Carly Cavalier grows primarily white choices, which are always in demand for weddings. “They are prolific; they will bloom all summer long — producing lots and lots of blooms,” she acknowledges. “But the challenge with cosmos is when to cut them.”

Carly has found that harvesting cosmos when the flower has a tight center ensures the longest-lasting cut flower. “The latest I’ll cut is when the outer ring is just beginning to show. As soon as the center’s fully blown out, the yellow pollen just shatters.”

She cuts on a regular schedule to stimulate production. “I keep on top of them by cutting three times a week. I cut Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and then I deadhead everything on Friday. By Sunday, again I have more blooms. Since I keep cutting, they keep blooming.”

The large, double blooms of feature deeply fringed petals in a lively range of colors, including carmine, pink, and white with sunny yellow centers. These dance atop tall, well-branched stalks of fernlike foliage that also makes a fine green bouquet filler.

Here are the final three on our list that you’ll want to check out, along with Johnny’s recommendations. Be sure to check the extensive Flower Production Guides in the Flower Grower’s Library for detailed planting and harvesting instructions.

‘Pincushion Formula Mix’ scabiosa produces tall, sturdy plants topped by rounded, lacy masses of tiny florets in a diverse, well-balanced palette.

13 • Scabiosa

Scabiosa, also known as mourningbride and pincushion flower, is a versatile cut flower. With its spiky ball center and strong wiry stems, it can be used fresh or dried. Some varieties form decorative seed pods that resemble shuttlecocks, adding whimsy and interest to mixed bouquets and arrangements. ‘Pincushion Formula Mix’ features elegant, button-like flowers in rich “black,” lavender-blue, butter yellow, bright red, salmon rose, and white on durable, wiry stems. Easy, reliable, and beautiful — cut regularly to keep them coming.

14 • Gomphrena

Gomphrena are easy-going flowers and tolerant of hot, dry weather.

Also known as globe amaranth, the well-branched, upright plants of gomphrena produce clover-like blooms continuously all summer. And much like the true Amaranthus species described above, globe amaranth are relatively undemanding in their culture, and tolerant of hot, dry summer weather. Regular harvesting promotes flower production. Grows well in beds and rows for large-scale production.

15 • Bupleurum

Also known as thorow wax and hare’s ear, bupleurum grows quickly and easily, and adapts well to growing in many environments. Its erect plants produce 2–2½” yellow to lime-green flowers in umbels atop long, thin wiry stems. Though it shows up last on this list, it is not just an easy choice — bupleurum’s airy, fine texture makes it a classic, highly versatile filler in cut-flower arrangements — which is why it additionally ranks as one of our Flower Farmers’ Favorite Foliages & Fillers.

Learn About Lisianthus

Alternaria Leaf Spot: Small, round reddish brown spots with white to grey centers form on the upper surface of the leaves and along the midrib. The lesions may encircle the stems and cause wilt. This disease is worse in warm, wet or very humid weather. Burpee Recommends: Avoid getting water on the foliage. Remove infected plant parts and do not work around wet plants. Provide plenty of air circulation. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.

Botrytis: This fungus causes a grey mold on flowers, leaves, stems and buds. It thrives in cool wet weather conditions. Burpee Recommends: Remove affected plant parts, avoid watering at night and getting water on the plant when watering. Make sure plants have good air circulation. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.

Downy Mildew: This fungus causes whitish grey patches on the undersides and eventually both sides of the leaves. Burpee Recommends: Rotate crops with plants in a different family. Avoid overhead watering. Provide adequate air circulation, do not overcrowd plants. Do not work around plants when they are wet.

Fusarium Wilt: The first symptom of fusarium is the appearance of a few yellow leaves or a slight drooping of the lower leaves. Caused by a soil-borne fungus, the fungus enters through the roots and passes up into the stem producing toxic substances. Burpee Recommends: Destroy affected plants at the first sign of fusarium; rotate crops.

Virus (Various causes): The most characteristic sign of virus is tight and dark green mottling of the leaves. Burpee Recommends: Avoid handling plants. Destroy diseased plants and the plants on either side. Never smoke in the garden as Tobacco Mosaic Virus can be transmitted from a smoker’s unwashed hands while handling plants.

Common Pest and Cultural Problems

Aphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps which feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap.

Leafminers: These insects bore just under the leaf surface causing irregular serpentine lines. The larvae are yellow cylindrical maggots and the adults are small black and yellow flies. They do not usually kill plants, but disfigure the foliage. Burpee Recommends: Remove affected foliage. Sanitation is important so be sure to remove all debris at the end of the season.

Thrips: Thrips are tiny needle-thin insects that are black or straw colored. They suck the juices of plants and attack flower petals, leaves and stems. The plant will have a stippling, discolored flecking or silvering of the leaf surface. Thrips can spread many diseases from plant to plant. Burpee Recommends: Many thrips may be repelled by sheets of aluminum foil spread between rows of plants. Remove weeds from the bed and remove debris from the bed after frost. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls.

Whitefly: These are small white flying insects that often rise up in a cloud when plants are disturbed or brushed against. Burpee Recommends: They are difficult to control without chemicals. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for pesticide recommendations.

Floralife Flower Focus

Looking for useful tips for the postharvest processing of many different varieties of cut flowers? Then check out the newly expanded Flower Care and Handling section of the Floralife website. Wholesaler, retailer, enthusiast – there’s something for everybody. Let’s go down the list! Today’s star is the Lisianthus!

The Lisianthus, known as Texas bluebell, Prairie gentian, Poor man’s rose and Lira de San Pedro, is native to the Continental US. The Lisianthus comes in a variety of colors including purple, pink, green, and white.

As always, Floralife has some practical Lisianthus care and handling tips for the grower, the wholesaler and the retailer. Here is a preview.

For the Grower: Harvest when at least 2 flowers are open. There is literature that suggests the use of an anti-ethylene product such as EthylBloc™ Technology may help open more flowers. After cutting, hydrate with Hydraflor® 100 hydrating treatment. You can also try Floralife® Quick Dip 100 hydrating treatment under normal conditions. This one second dip helps to increase water uptake for all flowers. Then, transfer stems to a solution of Floralife® 200 storage and transport treatments. More details at the original article.

For the Wholesaler/Retailer:

When buying: The Lisianthus is slightly ethylene sensitive, so check to see if they have been pretreated with an anti-ethylene product, such as EthylBloc™ Technology. Also, find out about the source of the Lisianthus? What is the cultivar name? Has the product been stored dry or wet?

Buy Lisianthus stems that have 1 – 3 blooms open. Do not buy Lisianthus which have leaf yellowing.

Processing/Pre-treatment: Remove foliage below solution level. Recut stems. After cutting, hydrate with Floralife’s Hydraflor® 100 to promote water uptake. OR, try Floralife® Quick Dip 100 instant hydrating treatment.

Holding Solution: Use fresh flower food at the recommended rate, including Flower Food 300, Floralife® 200 or Floralife® Clear 200, Floralife® Clear ULTRA 200 or Special Blend 300 storage treatment solutions. More details at the original article.

That’s a quick preview of Floralife’s Lisianthus Care and Handling article. You will find more information at the original piece, including discussions on vase life, storage temperatures, and customer satisfaction tips and troubleshooting advice, so take a look! Are you a fan of the Lisianthus, as a professional or an enthusiast? Let us know in the comments section!

Cut Flower Care Flower Science Processing Flowers

  • Cut Flower Care and Handling
  • Cut Flower Hydration
  • Cut Flower Preparation
  • Ethylene
  • harvesting flowers
  • lisianthus
  • postharvest care
  • storage temperature

All you Need to Know about Lisianthus

This particular species of plant, often called Eustoma, originates from North America and is native to both prairie regions and desert riverbeds.

Due to this, many refer to it as the ‘prairie gentian’, particularly in the states of Nevada, Texas, Nebraska, and Colorado. In the 1930s, Japanese growers crossed the prairie gentian, creating the Lisianthus species we see today.

In literal terms, Lisianthus means ‘bitter flower’ and was given the name to the taste of the flowers which we traditionally used in herbal medicine.

So, if you want to brighten up your garden with a beautifully colored flower then follow the tips and tricks below.

The Lisianthus’ shapes and hues

With an array of colors, styles, and types to choose from, there is surely a Lisianthus plant to suit all. From green and white variants to blue, pink, salmon, purple and lilac shades, there are multiple colors available. Certain species even boast flowers with petals brandishing several shades.

In addition to this, the Lisianthus plant boasts many styles, including single and double-flowered variants, with large and small blooms, whilst some also have fringed petals. To top this off, new species and shapes are constantly being discovered, all with soft and delicate petals.

You can recognize a Lisianthus because of their long, slender stems, which bear several gentian-like tubular flower heads.

How can you ensure growth?

Depending on where you live, growing tips for Lisianthus can vary.

In areas where temperatures can drop to freezing, it’s important to plant them post frost. In warmer, southern climates, however, you can plant this type of plant as early as March. If you can, try to plant as early as possible. Most green-fingered connoisseurs will know that Lisianthus are extremely slow growing plants.

In addition to planting these flowers at the correct time of year, you will also need to adopt some serious weed management. This particular specie of plant stays relatively small for several months, with the leaves protruding from the base of the plant in the shape of a rosette. Because of this, aggressive weeds, such as crabgrass and creepers, can rapidly destroy Lisianthus plants.

Rosetting is when the plant doesn’t flower but instead yields a gathering of leaves. This happens because of the poor lighting conditions, the incorrect temperature, and too much or too little water.

Once this happens, it is extremely difficult to reverse. In some cases, however, lowering the temperature to 10°C for roughly 30 days will help.

What do you need to look out for?

In order to counteract the build-up of pests and pathogens in the soil, it’s important to introduce crop rotation. The most common pests to attack Lisianthus include leaf miners, thrips, aphids and whiteflies.

Lisianthus is also prone to fusarium, botrytis, and various other diseases, all of which require research in order to prevent them.

Due to Lisianthus staying small for many months after planting, aggressive weeds, such as crabgrass can quickly overtake the plant and smother them.

How to look after Lisianthus

For best results, prep flower beds in the spring, adding cottonseed meal, compost and green potash to the soil. Lisianthus thrives particularly well in clay soil, as it’s able to hold water without staying wet. This is important, as Lisianthus plants require excellent drainage and soil with a pH that sits between 6.5 and 7.0.

When it comes to watering Lisianthus, one tip involves doing so when the top two inches of soil has dried. Avoid watering your plant when the weather cools, this is usually when the plant stops flowering, as Lisianthus prefer dry winters. To encourage regrowth, cut flowers back when they fade – this will promote branching and re-blooming.

As a general rule, it’s a good idea to keep the soil evenly moist, without being saturated. It’s extremely important that you avoid dry soil during germination, as this is when Lisianthus require the most moisture in order to dissolve the pellet coat surrounding the seed.

During the germination period, which takes between 10–15 days, you must keep temperatures at 21–24°C. on top of this, you must provide your plants with good air circulation. Be careful when covering seeds and small plants with clear or white plastic domes, as asides from providing consistent moisture and heat levels, they can also promote excess moisture. This can generate mold. For best results, remove the domes prior to the seeds germination and invest in a fan, as these can be used to increase ventilation.

Transplanting seedlings

Seedlings can be very slow to grow; some require 60 days before being transplanted. When you see the first signs of life, place seed trays in an environment that boasts good air circulation.

To avoid algae growth, lower moisture levels and allow the soil to dry slightly before watering the plants. Any tip for best results involves avoiding extreme humidity and low light levels.

Types of Lisianthus

The main species of Lisianthus include the Texas bluebell, Prairie Gentian, Tulip gentian, and Lira de San Pedro.

These long-stemmed flowers boast blue and purple hued petals, with a fuse at the base. The petals look a little like funnels and are slightly trumpet-shaped, with a hint of yellow on the inside. The stamens of the Lisianthus boast long and slightly twisted anthers, which sit close to the base of the petals. When grown in the garden, they typically reach a height of 18-30 inches, although dwarf varieties are now readily available, and grow between 6 and 8 inches tall.

Harvest period

There are many different species of Lisianthus available today, many of which are able to thrive in different climates and growing seasons. Due to these changing conditions, it is a must that you select the correct variant and one that has been bred to perform for your required harvest period. By following this simple rule, you will guarantee the maximum stem length for both your growing season and climate.

Grow in a protected environment

If you’re unable to grow Lisianthus plants outdoors, you may wish to grow them in the greenhouse or another protected construction. This will allow you to shelter the flowers from wind, rain, frost and various elements. All of these elements can prevent growth and in some cases, cause damage. For example, rain can produce spots on the petals.

Of course, it’s equally important to protect flowers grown in greenhouses, as even water droplets caused by condensation can cause ailments. When picking species of Lisianthus, it’s a good idea to do your research – darker flower hues are more inclined to showcase spotting than lighter colors.

How to care for your Lisianthus (indoors)

There are a number of tips and tricks to follow if you wish for a healthy, thriving plant, but in general, the Lisianthus is one of the easiest flowers to look after.

If you are placing them indoors, start by choosing a clean vessel and fill with water at room temperature.

Once you have a vase in place, add flower food to the water – this is a must if you wish to prolong the vase life of Lisianthus.

Trim the stems diagonally using a clean, sharp knife or secateurs, 3 to 5 cm should suffice.

Make sure no leaves are submerged in the water.

Place in an environment out of full sunlight, away from drought and central heating.

Keep an eye on the water level of the vase and top it up when it becomes low; Lisianthus flowers tend to drink a lot of water because of their thin petals, which evaporate a lot of moisture.

Avoid placing your Lisianthus flowers near a fruit bowl. The ethylene gas emitted by fruit can cause the flowers to age more rapidly.

Creating the perfect bouquet

The lisianthus is an incredibly versatile flower. You can use them in bouquets, table centers, wire the flowerheads for buttonholes and headdresses, and also keep the long stems and tight flower buds to create a free look to an arrangement.

Due to its exceptional vase life, Lisianthus is regarded as a very prevalent, high-end cut flower, particularly because of its rose-like appearance.

These picture-perfect flowers complement an array of other blooms, which makes them a great option for a bouquet. Cotinum, rosehips, anthurium, and blackberries are just a few of the prevalent species many florists choose to combine with Lisianthus flowers.

If placing outdoors, however, choose a rugged terracotta pot for best results, and place next to subtle borders, pastel shades, and romantic shapes.

Lisianthus symbolism

Although delicate and soft-hued in style, Lisianthus flowers boast powerful symbolism. This floral specie represents charisma, appreciation, and gratitude, although previously the flowers were linked more closely to feelings of romantic desire.

This very symbolism is the reason many choose to gift this bouquet to a loved one. From the perspective of astrology, these beautiful floral blooms are a great gift for those born between November 22 and December 21, which will make them a Sagottarian.

sources: persephoneviolet.co.uk, lovenfreshflowers.com

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