How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Lisianthus

Are you someone who’s ready for a gardening challenge? Are you desperate for a cut flower that will thrive in hot, dry conditions? There may be an answer to your solution in a little-known flower called lisianthus. In this article, gardening expert and cut flower farmer Taylor Sievers shares how to grow this colorful, rose-like flower in your garden.

Purple Lisianthus growing in the garden


Roses are red; violets are blue. Lisianthus is red, blue, purple, pink, orange, yellow, and even lime green shades, too! What other flower looks like a rose but can naturally be lime green? Lisianthus, sometimes called prairie gentian or Texas bluebell, is an ornamental member of the Gentianaceae family. This family is known for their smooth leaves, bitter taste, elegant flowers, and difficulty starting from seed.

Significant breeding efforts for this U.S. native wildflower in recent years have taken the world of floristry and cut flower farming by storm. Today, we have lisianthus in every color of the rainbow. The flowers are prolific (with multiple flowers per stem), thrive in the heat of the summer, and will last 2 to 3 weeks in a vase as a cut flower.

If you have a cut flower garden or often experience drought-like conditions in your garden, then lisianthus is one plant you don’t want to miss out on! Read on to learn more about this enigmatic flower!

Plant Overview

Top view, close-up of a Lisianthus flower in the garden background. The flower is large, cup-shaped, with three layers of rounded petals. The petals are delicate white with a hint of purple closer to the wavy edges.
Lisianthus, or Eustoma grandiflorum syn. russellanium, is a delicate and elegant flowering plant with stunning blossoms resembling roses.
common-name common name Lisianthus
botanical-name botanical name Eustoma grandiflorum syn. russellanium
genus genus Eustoma
plant-type plant type Biennial, Hardy Annual
bloom-colors bloom colors Blue, purple, white, pink, green, yellow, mixed
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
water-needs water needs Low
height height 24 to 30 inches
spacing spacing 4 to 9 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones USDA Zones 8 to 10
soil-needs soil needs Sandy loam
pet-toxic pet toxic No

History and Cultivation

Close-up of flowering Lisianthus (Eustoma) plants in a sunny garden. Top view of charming flowers in sunlight. The plant forms upright stems covered with lush green foliage. The leaves are lanceolate, smooth, shiny, and have a slightly waxy texture. Lisianthus flowers are cup-shaped with two-layered petals. The petals are a delicate pink shade with slightly ruffled edges.
Lisianthus thrives in dry winters and sandy soils, making it an ideal flowering shrub for zones 8-10.

Lisianthus is native along the 100th meridian to short grass prairies from western Nebraska and south to Texas and northern Mexico. It prefers dry winters and sandy soils, mainly growing as a biennial in the wild. The wild blooms are typically a shade of purple.

Lisianthus was fairly unknown in the floriculture world of the United States until about the 1980s. Gerald Klingaman, a retired horticulturist, writes that he didn’t know about this flower until the Japanese released some highly ornamental specimens to the trade.

When it first appeared in seed catalogs, it was called Lisianthus russellianus. When it was later recognized as part of the Eustoma genus, people were used to calling it Lisianthus, so the name stuck around. You may hear lisianthus called Texas bluebell, bluebell gentian, or prairie gentian.

Today, lisianthus comes in not only the familiar colors of blue and purple but also shades of pink, apricot, champagne, white, green, yellow, and beautiful bicolors called “picotee,” where the outer edges of the petals are darker than the centers. Some varieties have single petals, while others have a double layer of petals. A few cultivars have small flowers arranged in clusters.

Most lisianthus plants are grown as annuals, but in USDA hardiness zones 8-10, they’re often biennial plants. This means they won’t flower until the second year, and then they’ll die. In USDA zone 10, you can grow it as a perennial that returns yearly.

Reasons to Plant Lisianthus

Close-up of flowering Lisianthus plants in a sunny garden. Plant forms upright stems with alternate lanceolate leaves of a bluish-green color. The leaves have smooth edges and a waxy texture. The flowers are medium-sized, double, rose-shaped. They are made up of several layers of rich purple ruffled rounded petals.
Grow this cost-effective alternative to roses and enjoy multiple stems and extended vase life.

Have you been eager to grow beautiful roses, but the cost and maintenance of rose plants are prohibitive? Enter the flower that is sometimes mistaken for a rose: the lisianthus. Here are a few reasons why you should consider growing this gorgeous plant:

Elegant Aesthetic

Lisianthus flowers are often planted in gardens to add a fresh and elegant feeling. They come in a large range of colors that attract a diversity of pollinators to your garden and look gorgeous while doing it.

Affordable and Low-Maintenance

Compared to a rose bush, lisianthus is affordable and low-maintenance. They don’t require nearly as much water, pruning, fertility, or pest management as a rose bush. They don’t have many insect or disease issues and can be quite drought-tolerant once established. Moreover, the seeds are very affordable.

Attract Pollinators

Lisianthus plants are a great addition to your garden if you need help attracting pollinators. Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds will likely flock to these blooms all summer long. Cutting them will encourage new growth so that you can keep the gorgeous flowers both inside and outside throughout their growing season.


One drawback to this plant is its difficulty to grow from seed, but you can purchase a seed packet for pennies compared to one rose bush. While they are primarily grown from seed, they can also be propagated by cuttings.


Germination of tiny Lisianthus flower seeds. Close-up of germinating seeds in Peat Pellets. Peat pellets or grow pellets look like small soil discs, and are made from compressed pest moss. Tiny sprouts in the form of thin stems and two small cotyledons germinate from tiny rounded beige seeds.
Start lisianthus seeds indoors 10-14 weeks before the last frost, providing a warm, moist environment for germination.

Lisianthus seeds are extremely small. Because they are so small, many seed companies sell pelleted seeds. Pelletting is a process where inert materials are used to coat a seed to make it a more uniform size and shape or a larger, easier-to-handle size.

Indoor Sowing
Close up of young seedlings growing in a black seed tray with square holes. The holes are filled with moist, dark soil. Each seedling has dark green rounded leaves.
Keep the seedlings at a cool temperature to deter them from going dormant.

Seeds should be started indoors approximately 10 to 14 weeks before the last expected frost. In many climates, January is ideal. The seeds are extremely slow to start and grow, so give them plenty of time.

Sow seeds on the surface of your moist germination mix and keep the seeds around 70° to 75°F until you see germination. You can keep seeds at this temperature by using a heat mat or placing them in a warm area, like on top of your refrigerator. Use a humidity dome or plastic wrap to cover your seedling tray or pot to retain moisture.

You may need a magnifying glass to see the tiny seedlings initially. Once they have germinated, it is very important to remove any bottom heat. Lisianthus are prone to a phenomenon called rosetting. Essentially, this means they will stay dormant if temperatures are too high. Keep the seedlings between 50° and 65°F to prevent rosetting.

Pro Tip: The key is to keep lisianthus cool while they’re small. Mimic nature! In the wild, lisianthus germinates in the cool, moist early spring.

Plant plug with young seedling with dark green rounded leaves still attached to root system, which has thin, white root strings intertwining though each other, and dark soil. The plug rests on a wooden surface.
Plugs can be a good option since they are ready for the ground, but they can also be costly.

Because they are so difficult to start from seed (they’re slow and prone to root rot), many commercial growers purchase them as plugs. Plugs are seedlings ready to be transplanted once you receive them from the grower.

Unfortunately, plugs can be cost-prohibitive for the home gardener due to the minimum order quantity and cost of shipping. If you live in the southern United States, you may be able to find a local nursery that sells the plants as starts.

Pro Tip: It is not recommended to sow lisianthus seeds directly into the garden. Starting indoors is the preferred method.

Several white flowers that grow in a rosette pattern on the ends of tall, sturdy, green stems, growing in a garden. The foliage is dark green. There are several flower buds waiting to bloom that are lime green in color.
You will find that these flowers will self-seed when grown in warmer climates.

In zones 8 and warmer, these heat-loving plants are self-seeding. You can allow nature to take its course at filling your flower beds. The plants don’t like to have their roots disturbed, but if you want to move a plant from one location to another, you can gently dig up seedlings and plant them where you want them.

You can save lisianthus seeds after the blooms have died and sprinkle them over the soil. The seed needs sunlight to germinate, so press them gently into the soil but don’t allow them to get covered up. Avoid planting them in unprotected open areas since the wind may blow away the superfine seed. Even greenhouse growers may have a lot of luck with lisianthus in this regard.


Close-up of young Lisianthus seedlings in starter trays. The seedlings have upright stems covered with bright green lanceolate leaves with a smooth texture. Starting trays are black, plastic, have rounded deep cells filled with soil mixture.
Propagate lisianthus in spring by taking stem cuttings, planting in a moist medium, and providing high humidity.

You can propagate lisianthus by stem cuttings in the spring. This works great if you have a plant you want to multiply or you know a fellow gardener willing to share some stems.

To propagate by cuttings, snip off a stem section with at least 4 to 6 sets of leaves. Pull off the lowest set of leaves and dip the end in a rooting hormone, covering the spot where the leaves just were that you pulled off. This is where the new roots will arise.

YouTube video
Propagating plants via cuttings is one of the most common propagation methods.

Place the cutting in a moist, loose mix of peat moss or coconut coir mixed with perlite. Poke a hole so the cutting can be placed without rubbing all the rooting hormone off. Firm the mix around your cutting so it is held in place.

You need to keep your cutting moist but not waterlogged at this time. Place a humidity dome or the top of a plastic soda bottle or milk jug over the cutting to keep the humidity high around the cutting. Mist periodically over the next 4 weeks.

In about 4 to 6 weeks, you should start to see roots and maybe some new growth. Once the cutting has rooted sufficiently, you can transplant it into the garden or a larger pot.


Close-up of a young Lisianthus seedling out of its nursery container, on the soil in a sunny garden. The seedling has a basal rosette of lanceolate blue-green leaves with a smooth, waxy texture. The leaves have slightly wavy edges.
Transplant lisianthus seedlings with four sets of true leaves and provide support to prevent flopping.

Lisianthus seedlings are ready to be transplanted when they have four sets of true leaves. True leaves are leaves that emerge after the initial first set of leaves. The first set of leaves are called cotyledons.

Cotyledons are seedling leaves that were already developed inside the seed. They will typically be shed when the first true leaves emerge to start doing the work of photosynthesis (basically, the plant’s process of creating its energy).

Germination to transplant can typically take about 60 to 90 days. (It’s the long game with these guys, remember?)

Lisianthus can withstand some cool spring temperatures. If you plant in a protected space like an unheated greenhouse or cold frame, you can transplant about a month before your expected last frost.

If you are planting outside, you can transplant them outdoors starting 2 weeks before your expected last frost. Be sure they are hardened off to their new environment before transplanting.

Lisianthus are very upright in growth habit and can be prone to flopping over if not supported by staking or flower netting. Gardeners get around this by planting lisianthus with tight spacing, sometimes as close as 4 inches apart! You can plant lisianthus anywhere from 4 to 9 inches apart.

There are dwarf varieties that will not flop, like the tall varieties that can reach up to 3 feet. These will reach heights of only 6-10 inches tall.

How to Grow

Lisianthus has a bit of a reputation for being difficult to grow. It may seem that way to beginners, but once you know how to care for them, putting it into practice is easy.

Be patient when growing from seeds since they take a very long time to show signs of life. They can take up to 3 weeks to germinate, and it may be 6 months before you see the first flower.


Top view, close-up of a blooming Lisianthus flower in a sunny garden. The flower is large, semi-double, consists of several layers of rounded petals overlapping each other with slightly corrugated edges. Petals are pale cream in color with a slight blush. The center of the flower is a pale green shade with stamens and orange anthers.
For optimal growth and blooming, lisianthus needs at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily.

Lisianthus requires a lot of sun for proper growth and flowering. At least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day is ideal. In warmer climates, pick a site that will receive full sun in the morning with partial shade in the afternoon when the sun is the most brutal.

In climates with mild summers, such as the Pacific Northwest, you may not need as much shade in the afternoon, and they can usually tolerate full sun or bright light conditions.

If you start seeds indoors, a grow light will be necessary to produce healthy seedling growth since a window provides limited sun, and they’ll need something that mimics the brightness of the full sun for at least part of the day.

Remember that lisianthus is native to the open plains in the southern U.S. and northern Mexico, so mimicking that environment in the garden will allow this beautiful flower to thrive.


Close-up of a flowering Lisianthus plant covered in water drops. The plant has medium, rose-shaped, bright purple flowers. The plant produces upright, slender stems covered with oval, pointed-tipped leaves. The leaves are bluish green in color with a smooth and waxy texture.
Drought-tolerant lisianthus prefers cool, moist conditions when young but becomes more tolerant of dry conditions once established.

Lisianthus are drought-tolerant plants because they have low water requirements. If you miss a watering or two, your flowers should be OK. However, they are extremely intolerant of being waterlogged. Rock gardens and xeriscape plantings are perfect for this plant.

Just remember, as seedlings and establishing transplants, lisianthus prefer cool, moist conditions like early spring. Once established, they will be much more tolerant to dry conditions.

Water lisianthus at the base and ensure the water doesn’t touch the leaves. Soaker hoses will be the easiest way to accomplish this in raised beds and on the ground.

Be careful not to overwater since that can increase the chances of your flowers contracting plant diseases. Watering early in the morning is ideal so the water can soak into the ground before the sun evaporates any excess moisture. It will also give the soil time to dry out before nighttime, reducing the risk of diseases.

Remember, in their native habitat, lisianthus enjoys a hot summer with dry spells that involve just a few drops of rain. If growing in damp climates, they’ll need less watering and may even suffer from too much water. As hot summers fade during the late summer months, you can gradually decrease the watering needs.


Close-up of a young Eustoma seedling in a sunny garden, in loose brown soil. The seedling consists of a short, upright stem with small, lanceolate, smooth, medium green leaves.
To ensure healthy growth, lisianthus requires well-draining soil, preferably loam or sandy soil.

Because lisianthus is intolerant of waterlogged conditions, well-draining soil is essential. You must prevent water from pooling up around the roots. Lisianthus prefers well-draining loam soils or sandy to sandy loam soils to thrive.

Lisianthus prefers a pH of 6.5 to 7.0. It won’t grow well in acidic soil because more acidic soils can lead to zinc toxicity, which slows plant growth. They are also salt-sensitive.

If your planting site has more clay, increase drainage by amending the soil with organic matter, like well-rotted manure or compost.

Another great option is to plant lisianthus in a raised bed. Raised beds naturally have better drainage, and you can control the type of soil in the raised bed because you can fill it yourself. Birdies Raised Metal Garden Beds are the perfect sustainable, rot-resistant, DIY solution for including raised beds in your garden.

Climate and Temperature

Close-up of two blooming Lisianthus flowers in a garden, against a blurred background of blue-green foliage. The flowers are medium in size, reminiscent of roses. They are cup-shaped, with delicate pink petals carefully placed in several layers covering the center of the flower. The edges of the petals are slightly wavy.
This cool-climate flower withstands freezing temperatures and prefers cooler conditions for root establishment.

These elegant heat-loving plants are winter hardy in USDA zones 8 to 10. Some gardeners contend that they can be hardy in zone 7. I have successfully overwintered lisianthus inside an unheated greenhouse in zone 6a. The point? Lisianthus can withstand some freezing temperatures.

The ideal soil temperature is 59-73°F (15-23°C). The lowest air temperature a mature plant can survive outdoors is 10°F (-12°C).

If you live in zones colder than 8, you must bring your plants inside until the temperatures warm up again. Growing in a pot is ideal in cold climates.

In zone 7, you may be able to save it with a thick layer of mulch and row covers until the following spring, but keep in mind that it needs to receive plenty of light.

Provide Cool Weather While They Establish

Close up of young Texas bluebell plant with no flowers. The plant is just leaves at this point, which are rounded and long, growing upward toward the sky. It grows in a garden with other young plants in the blurred background. The ground is dry, light brown soil.
Although we think of this summer-flowering plant as liking the heat, it does prefer cool temperatures to establish its roots in the soil.

In the wild, the lisianthus growth habit is more like a biennial. During the first year of growth, the plant will form a mound of leaves and send forth long shoots with flowers in the second year.

Most ornamental varieties are grown like an annual, but it takes a long time to reach maturity and bloom. Again, they can withstand freezing temperatures with some protection in cooler climates.

When grown as an annual, temperature is key to preventing rosetting. Rosetting will cause a delay in growth and flowering. Allan Armitage and Judy Lauschman, authors of the guide Specialty Cut Flowers, stress the importance of avoiding temperatures above 70°F “like the plague,” especially at night.

Seeds can be started with heat mats, but once germinated, they must be grown in cool temperatures (45° to 65°F) for most of the seedling stage to prevent rosetting.


Close-up of flowering Eustoma plants in a greenhouse with metal wires stretched parallel to the ground to support the stems. The plant produces upright thin stems covered with smooth, dark green leaves with a slightly waxy texture, lanceolate in shape. The flowers are cup-shaped, composed of several layers of ruffled pink petals with white centers.
Use slow-release fertilizers with balanced nitrogen and potassium levels.

Slow-release fertilizers are recommended at transplant time. Nitrogen will boost the plant, but look for a fertilizer with just as much potassium (K) as nitrogen (N).

Applying a fertilizer high in potassium throughout the growing season will increase the number of gorgeous flowers you have on each lisianthus plant. Using a fertilizer high in nitrogen will make the plants favor foliage instead of flowers.

Fertilizers that are higher in potassium are potash, kelp meal, and alfalfa. Alfalfa meal or pellets are also a good source of nitrogen. Fish emulsion has both nitrogen and potassium but is typically higher in nitrogen.

Another nutrient that is key for lisianthus development is calcium (Ca). Calcium deficiency will show up as a tip burn on the leaves. Many calcium fertilizers are applied as a spray on the leaves (called a foliar application). However, plants uptake their calcium better via the soil, and most soil already has ample calcium to support your plant’s needs.


Close-up of flowering Eustoma plants in the garden. The plant forms upright stems with elliptical green leaves and beautiful lush flowers. The flowers are cup-shaped, semi-double, consist of two layers of rounded pale pink petals with slightly fringed edges. The centers of the flowers are a rich burgundy shade with stamens. Some flowers are dry, brown and need pruning.
Focus on deadheading and provide support to prevent stem flopping.

Some gardeners like to pinch lisianthus when the plant reaches about 6 inches in height. Pinch just above a set of leaves to induce branching.

However, Cornell University reports that pinching will delay flowering and has not been shown to increase the total flower blooms of the plant. Instead, focus on deadheading over pinching.

Deadheading and harvesting the flowers will keep the plant looking tidy and prevent seed set. Once the rose-like flowers bloom, cut them at the bottom of the stem and put them in a vase.

If you allow the flowers to stay on the plant, remove spent flowers to encourage new growth. Look below the spent flower for a point where a pair of leaves is located, and cut off just above that to encourage further growth.

These plants benefit from some support as the stems can get very tall and flop over with winds. Flower netting or corralling with twine and stakes is beneficial if growing in a cut flower garden setting.


Close-up of collected flowers of 'Arena' Lisianthus. The plant produces tall strong stems adorned with exquisite, ruffled flowers. Lisianthus flowers are a soft bed pink shade, composed of several layers of petals that create a full and voluminous appearance.
Varieties are classified into four groups based on bloom time.

Lisianthus varieties are separated into 4 different groups based on their bloom time in response to heat and light.

  • Group 1 blooms during moderate light and heat.
  • Group 2 blooms in the summer when there’s high light and heat.
  • Group 3 blooms later in the summer, when light and heat are moderate.
  • Group 4 is less common and is grown mostly for winter production in areas of warm climates.

Group 1 includes the ‘Echo’ series, which will bloom in late June when sown in late January. The ‘Doublini’ series has miniature blooms that resemble spray roses. Both series come in a range of colors. ‘Roseanne Black Pearl’ is a lovely eggplant color of faded purple that’s simply stunning to see in person.

Group 2 and 3 varieties bloom about a month later than Group 1. Popular varieties include ‘Arena,’ ‘Voyage,’ ‘Mariachi,’ and ‘ABC’ series. ‘Voyage’ varieties have lots of ruffling and waving to the blooms, while ‘ABC’ has more layers of petals than many other varieties. ‘Arena’ is very dependable and comes in a wide range of groups and colors.

My favorite varieties to grow as cut flowers are:

Arena Blue Picotee

Close up of a flower head that has white petals with dark blue rims that grow in a rosette pattern at the tip of a tall, sturdy stem. There is a pure purple flower in the background not quite as open.
This flower is incredibly unique with its two contrasting colors of white and dark blue.
bloom-colors bloom colors White with Dark Blue Rim
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 21-30 inches

The Arena series comes in many shades of colors and has cultivars from Group 2 to Group 4. I typically plant the Arenas from Group 3. They are characterized by fully-double flowers that grow atop tall, sturdy stems. One of the most unique varieties is the Blue Picotee, which has white petals that are edged in dark blue.

Corelli™ III Light Pink

close up of a blooming flower with light pink petals that are ruffled on the edges. The center is dark. The background is blurred and solid gray.
The soft pink color of this flower adds a delicate touch to any garden.
bloom-colors bloom colors Light Pink
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 28-38 inches

The Corelli™ series is simply stunning and known for its large, double flowers with fringed or wavy petal edges. They also span a few growing groups. My top variety is ‘Corelli III Light Pink’. It grows in such a soft and lovely shade of pink.


Close up of dark purple flowers growing against a blurred green background. The flowers grow in little rosettes with tiny yellow stamen in the centers. Small light green flower buds are sprinkled around.
Dwarf varieties, such as Sapphire, are good for small spaces or containers.
bloom-colors bloom colors Dark Blue-Purple
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 6-10 inches

If you’re looking for a dwarf variety for your landscaping or pots, try out the Sapphire series. They only reach about 6 to 10 inches and come in various colors. These are excellent for borders, edges, or even planting in containers. You can also grow it as a houseplant near a window that gets lots of sunshine.


When it comes to pests and diseases, lisianthus doesn’t cause much of a fuss. Most issues are commonly caused by accidental overwatering or allowing the leaves to get wet.

Fungus Gnats

Close-up of Fungus gnats on sticky tape on a white flower pot. Fungus gnats are small, delicate insects with a distinctive appearance. They have a slender body and long graceful legs. Fungus gnats are dark gray or black in color with long, segmented antennae and two oblong, translucent wings.
Prevent damage to seedlings by using sticky traps for adult fungus gnats, ensuring airflow, and using a larvicide.

Fungus gnat larvae will damage lisianthus seedlings by feeding on their roots. You may notice fungus gnats inside flying around your seedling trays or pots. Use sticky traps to catch the adults (basically sticky cards that can be hung around the area). The adults will not hurt much, but they lay eggs, and the larvae can become an unseen problem.

Ensure you have good air circulation wherever you start seeds, but don’t let your seedlings dry out. Water as needed.

A product called Mosquito Bits is an organic larvicide that can help kill any fungus gnat larvae in your seed starting trays or near your seed starting area. Made from Bacillus thuringiensis var. israelensis, a naturally-occurring soil bacteria, this treatment is very effective against the larvae but does not typically kill off adults.


Close up of a green leaf with slightly raised veins. There are a few dark and yellowing dry spots on the leaf. Several tiny white, cigar-shaped insects crawl around the leaf.
These tiny pests can cause some serious damage if left alone.

Thrips are 1/16th inch long, brown or white, cigar-shaped insects that like to feed on the blooms, especially the lighter-colored blooms. They cause unsightly streaking on dark petals and can transmit viruses as they feed on the plant.

Thrips can become a big problem quickly. When growing outside, your plants might not be affected by thrips as much. Periodically soaking the plant with a hose will help, but when growing in a structure (like a greenhouse), it may be beneficial to release beneficial predator insects that will feed on the thrips.

Lacewings and ladybugs will feed on thrips and can be ordered from different companies as a subscription service, so you can periodically release them to manage infestations. Ensure that the conditions in the greenhouse are conducive to the continued health of your beneficial insects!

Aphids and Whiteflies

Close up of a leafy plant with no flowers that has several tiny black and light brown insects crawling around in clusters. A red ladybug with black spots eats the tiny insects on one of the leaves. The background is green foliage that is blurred.
Introduce predatory insects, such as ladybugs, to feast on an aphid population that has arrived in your garden.

While this plant is not particularly attractive to many other pests, other hungry insects may still look to lisianthus for plant sap to eat. Aphids, whiteflies, and thrips may not kill the entire plant, but they will cause damage that will take away from the beauty of the blooms and foliage. Sometimes these bugs are more attracted to plants that are fed an excess of nitrogen fertilizer.

Like fungus gnats, these insects are best controlled through biological control and companion planting. You can knock off some aphids with a heavy spray of water. But repeated applications of neem oil or insecticidal soap are usually best for heavier infestations.


Close-up of a flowering Eustoma plant in the garden, with diseased leaves. the plant has upright stems covered with lanceolate grey-green leaves with a smooth texture. The leaves are covered with a powdery white coating.
The seedlings require careful moisture management to prevent damping off.

Lisianthus are fairly disease-free once mature. Still, they can be susceptible to certain fungal diseases on the leaves and flowers.

Most gardeners have difficulty with lisianthus when they are starting from seed. Too much moisture will cause the seedlings to rot from damping off or pathogens that attack the roots. Not enough moisture will cause the tiny root system to dry out and wither away. It is a constant balancing act, which is why many farmers and gardeners order plugs instead of bothering with starting from seed.

Some diseases that can affect lisianthus are:


Fusarium is a pathogen that exists in almost all soils and causes root rot. There are fungicide root dips or drenches that can help prevent fusarium infection once transplanted.

If you notice any plants turning brown and dying, remove them immediately to ensure any infections do not spread to the neighboring plants. Discard the infected plant in the trash, not the compost bin.

Cut flower farmers commonly grow lisianthus inside unheated greenhouses to prevent bloom damage and infections. If growing in the landscape or garden, try choosing colored varieties as the white-flowered varieties seem more damaged by rainfall and moisture. Also, single-petaled varieties are less prone to holding water in the flower than doubles.

The best things you can do to prevent disease is plant healthy plants, discard diseased plants immediately, and plant far enough apart to provide good air circulation throughout the garden.

Plant Uses

Close-up of many flowering Lisianthus plants in a greenhouse, in a garden. Lisianthus produces tall stems with lush, delicate flowers reminiscent of roses or peonies. Flowers are pink and white. The leaves are dark green, lanceolate, growing alternately along the stems. Rising above the foliage, Lisianthus produces long, thin and strong stems from which charming flowers grow. Lisianthus flowers are cup-shaped, with two-layer, slightly ruffled petals.
Lisianthus is prized as a long-lasting cut flower with a vase life of up to 2-3 weeks.

Lisianthus is primarily grown as a cut flower. They are extremely long-lasting in a vase. Their vase life can be up to 2 to 3 weeks.

To harvest the flowers for arrangements, cut just above a set of leaves when at least one flower is fully colored. The flower does not have to be fully open to harvest, although, in my experience, the flowers look better when you harvest them with one fully open.

It can also be grown in landscaping or a patio pot. Because this plant is drought-tolerant, they are great for xeriscapes or rock gardens in some climates. Xeriscapes are plantings of drought-tolerant plants or plants that naturally occur in areas of desert.

While these flowers are very finicky to start from seed, once established, they are extremely low maintenance and beautiful, which makes the challenge worthwhile.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does lisianthus come back every year?

Lisianthus are naturally a biennial or short-lived perennial. In USDA zones 8 and 9, the lisianthus grows as a biennial, so it will last for two years. In zone 10, it’s grown as a perennial that will come back each year. In colder areas, you can grow lisianthus as an annual.

If you want to overwinter them in northern climates, you will need protection like a cold frame, heavy frost cloth, or a greenhouse. The jury is still out on whether flowers produced during the second year are worth the effort of winter protection rather than starting new seeds in late January for the next season’s blooms.

What are the best lisianthus varieties for cutting?

The lisianthus varieties we see today were all primarily developed for cutting. Because lisianthus is so long and lanky, it can be a difficult landscape plant. I prefer the ‘Arena 3’ series and the ‘Corelli 3’ series. They are both dependable and have either layered petals or wavy petals. Avoid dwarf varieties, like ‘Sapphire,’ as they will only grow about 6 to 8 inches tall and won’t be suitable for cutting.

Do lisianthus like sun or shade?

Lisianthus are native to the open prairies, so they prefer full sun (6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day). In some cases, you may plant them in partial shade if the shade is mostly in the afternoon. Too much shade will reduce the number of blooms per plant over the season.

Can I overwinter lisianthus?

If you live in USDA zones 8 to 10, you can overwinter lisianthus. Most growers plant their lisianthus in the fall in those warmer regions. You can overwinter lisianthus in cooler climates, but you must have some degree of winter protection.

An unheated greenhouse, cold frame, heavy frost cloth, heated greenhouse, or a variation will need to be utilized to achieve success with overwintering. You may also try mulching the lisianthus with about 10 to 12 inches of straw. Success will vary and may not be worth it.

Final Thoughts

The prettiest flowers can often be the most finicky to grow. Lisianthus is one of those flowers. Yet, if you’re brave enough to nurture the seedlings for 60 to 90 days, you’re ready to grow this beautiful rose-like flower.

The benefits far outweigh the challenges that come with growing this plant! An array of colors, long-lasting vase life, drought tolerance, and a steady supply of blooms will make all the rigors of the seedling stage worth it.

red irises


11 Different Types of Red Irises To Grow This Season

Looking for a red iris that will turn up the heat in your garden and lend a little drama to the landscape? Several species in the Iris genus offer flowers in shades of red. In this article, certified master gardener and landscape designer Liz Jaros profiles 11 of her favorites.

Lush perennial flowers with round yellow centers and white petals growing among full, dark green foliage in a border garden on a wall.


How to Plant, Grow and Care For Montauk Daisies

Are you considering adding Montauk daisies to your garden this season? It is easy to love the look of the crisp white and yellow daisies and the whimsy they add to your garden. In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago will share all you need to know to grow and maintain these stunning perennials.

bright colored roses


14 Brightly Colored Roses to Grow This Season

Is your garden looking a little bland? Bright, vivid colors are just the ingredient to spice it up! In this article, gardening expert and rose enthusiast Danielle Sherwood shares 15 roses in saturated hues to make your garden space come alive with color.

native annuals


17 Native Annual Flowers You Can Still Plant This Season

Are you looking for a way to add some color and interest to your garden without waiting years for your perennial plants to establish and start showing off? Native annuals are a great way to spruce up the garden quickly. Here, gardening expert Melissa Strauss shares 17 of her favorite North American native annuals for the flower garden.

flowering plants rebloom


27 Beautiful Flowering Plants That Will Rebloom All Season

Are you in search of flowering plants that will keep blooming all season long? There are many annuals as well as perennials that will bloom for extended periods of time or that will produce a second bloom altogether. In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago will share some of her favorite plants that will keep your gardens full of color all summer.

A close-up on a vibrant swamp sunflower stands out with its radiant yellow petals, delicately stretching towards the sun. Its slender green stem supports the blossom, providing strength and stability. In the background, a gentle blur reveals a companion flower, adorned with lush green leaves, adding a touch of harmony to the scene.


How to Plant, Grow and Care For Swamp Sunflowers

Are you looking for an extra-showy, late-blooming perennial wildflower to brighten your landscape? Swamp sunflower may be just what you’re looking for. Whether you already have a swamp sunflower or are considering growing one, this big beauty is hard to miss, easy to grow, and much loved by pollinators. In this article, gardening enthusiast Liessa Bowen will share some tips for how to grow swamp sunflowers in your own yard.