Flower Focus: Lisianthus

lisianthus flower field

After a round of mid-March snow squalls yesterday, I'm definitely summer dreaming this morning as I await the first big shipment of baby seedlings for the year. Ten trays of lisianthus are headed to the farm and I’m hoping to have them in the ground by the end of the week. 

If you’re not familiar with lisianthus, you should be! Lissies are an excellent alternative to roses; ruffly, long-lasting and a fantastic selection of colors. I find myself drawn to the champagne and apricot shades, but there's a range of colors from wasabi green to pristine white, perfect for wedding work. 

champagne lisianthus

On the flip side, lisianthus are known to be challenging to start from seed and they are super slow growing. I order lisianthus plugs (as opposed to starting myself) and plant them in landscape fabric at 6 inch spacing to combat weeds. Because they can tolerate some cold, lisianthus benefit from an early start in the field, giving them time to grow before the weeds try to take over. 

Still, the lisianthus beds require the most maintenance of all the summer blooms. Keeping the creeping grass from taking over seedlings is a weekly task, and lisianthus are also one of those flowers that requires netting (which I despise). The stems are quick to bend and a summer storm can flatten an entire row in a matter of mintues. Netting is esential to keeping the stems upright; in my field the netting starts off just an inch from the ground and we raise it as the plants grow. 

white lisianthus

In 6b, lisianthus bloom in July and we often get a second, shorter flush in September. To maximize stem count, lisianthus benefit from pinching early in the season. When the plants are just a few inches tall, I snip out the center stem, encouraging the plant to branch. Because this will delay blooming, I often pinch half of the row and leave the other half to bloom a few weeks earlier. 

When I do harvest, I cut deep on the plant and leave a few sets of leaves so that it can push new growth throughout the remainder of the season. 

Lisianthus will literally last for weeks (my customers often get 3 or more weeks from a vase of lisianthus) making them a great choice for farmer's markets or event work. 

Are you growing lisianthus?

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1 comment

Where do you get your plugs? I’m late to the game. I’ve started from seed, but want to try to get plugs too!

Rachel McAfee April 02, 2024

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