In appreciation for my patronage and for recycling their paper bags and plastic seedling trays, I occasionally get free plants from a local nursery. I became acquainted with lisianthus this way.

I have planted them each season since then. They are easy to grow, rather drought-tolerant and lovely as cut flowers. Full sun makes them thrive. Its beauty and variety of colors makes an outstanding individual plant, but grouping it with others is even more eye candy.

It may be possible to over water these, so, it pays to put them in well-drained soil. This I have found to be true because in my area there are long wet spells. The plant requires little space, grows upright and doesn't spread. When I remove the dead plants from the soil, I don't find the root ball to be much bigger than when I transplanted the seedlings in early summer. The purple bloom in the above photo is from a plant growing next to basil, one leaf of which is visible in the picture.

In my zone (6 and near the border of 5), they are annuals. They are native to warm areas of the U.S., Mexico, parts of South America and probably the Caribbean. In these warmer climates, they can be perennials.

For cut flowers, the dwarf version presents a challenge. I have found that the stem could not be cut long enough to make a good solo cut flower. It branches only an inch or two from the same section as unopened buds. Still, I have had a bud or two open in a vase if I do not cut too soon. The unopened buds look pretty, too, alongside open flowers.

The dwarf and the full-size versions are both nice in a container. I can imagine a row or small grouping of it front of taller, spikier plants that compliment whatever color the flowers will be. The pink and white lisianthus below shares close quarters with several other plants and has thrived. So, spacing may not be a problem.

And color is what keeps delighting me about them. Lisianthus -- I should be calling it Eustoma -- comes is a wonderful color selection. I have white blooms with a hint of yellow in a container on my porch. That same window box has this on the other end:

To grow them, it seems to be best to get seedlings from a local nursery or mail order. They can be difficult to grow from seed. Burpee has seedlings in a variety of colors available early in the year. (burpee)

How to grow lisianthus

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