Lisianthus might have a rep for being difficult to care for, but we make it easy! Learn how to collect lisianthus seeds and grow these beauties from scratch.
Intro to Lisianthus
The lisianthus is a flower initially native to the region of northern Mexico and the Great Plains of the United States. Nowadays, the lisianthus is popular among gardeners and is easily accessible to areas outside its native region.
Depending on which USDA zone you are growing in, the lisianthus varies, whether it is an annual, perennial, or biennial. In warmer zones such as 8 through 10, they’re biennial (they won’t flower until their second growing year, and then they will perish). In hotter zones 10 and 11, you can grow lisianthus as a perennial, meaning it will come back every year without needing to be planted again. In cooler zones eight and under, it is treated as an annual and must be re-planted each year.
Lisianthus flowers appear very similar to roses and come in a wide variety of colors, making them perfect for a beautiful bouquet. Their stems can grow up to 3 feet tall, though there are dwarf varieties of lisianthus that can only reach 12 inches.
Lisianthus is not just a pretty face; it also has a beneficial purpose in the garden. The flowers of the lisianthus plant attract pollinators. Pollinators (such as bees or hummingbirds) help increase plant production. If you’re also growing fruits and vegetables in your garden, it is essential to have pollinators around to ensure fruit grows.
How to Collect Lisianthus Seeds?
Once you buy one lisianthus plant, you can have a whole supply of lisianthus by harvesting their seeds. One seedpod from a lisianthus flower contains countless amounts of the lisianthus’ tiny seeds.
You’ll need a flower that has bloomed and matured completely. In addition, this flower should be dried entirely; the seed pod hidden beneath the flower petals tends to feel sticky to the touch if it hasn’t dried properly.
Take the seed pod and gently cut it open using a sharp paring knife. When you split the seed pod open, you should see the tiny seeds. You can use these seeds to grow your lisianthus plants.
Lisianthus Preferred Growing Conditions
Sun & Climate
Lisianthus plants thrive in locations with a lot of sunlight. Therefore, ensure your plant is in a place where it can receive a full day’s worth of light, at least 6 to 8 hours. If you live in areas with blazingly hot climates, it might be beneficial to give your lisianthus plant some shade; however, this is not a necessity. Consistent sunlight encourages better foliage and flower growth in your plant.
The preferred soil of lisianthus is well-draining soil rich in organic material. Try and find a soil mix that contains materials such as manure, compost, or leaf mold. Once again, the lisianthus’ soil must be well-draining; in fact, it is recommended to plant your lisianthus in raised beds or containers to increase the drainage (make sure there are drainage holes at the bottom as well)!
The lisianthus thrives on a steady regiment of fertilizer to produce plants with ample foliage and blossoms. Select a fertilizer that is specifically tailored towards flower growth; specifically, choose a fertilizer with a high potassium concentration, as this encourages flower growth (about 1.5 times the amount of potassium as nitrogen). Apply this fertilizer as directed about once a month. If you live in a stormy area, you should apply this more often.
Lisianthus plants should retain moisture but should never become waterlogged. Allowing your lisianthus to sit in soggy water opens up a door to fungus-based disease. A good benchmark for watering your lisianthus is 1/2 inch of water per week (either via rainfall or by your irrigation). After wetting your plant, allow the soil to dry up before watering your plant again.
In addition, it is vital to maintain correct watering techniques. The lisianthus is susceptible to fungal-based diseases such as downy mildew (which we’ll discuss later on). Aiming your garden hose at the base of the plant helps keep the foliage of the lisianthus plant dry and prevents moisture from getting trapped.
Tips to Growing Lisianthus from Seed
Lisianthus plants take a long time to grow from seed to flower, the average time being six months (though cold weather could slow down this process), so if you’re up for the challenge, definitely have some patience.
If you live in a colder climate, you can supplement the growing process with grow lights. Using an indoor setup with produce lights can help you get a head start with growing lisianthus sprouts, and you can transplant when the temperatures outside have reached a safe level. But, again, I recommend checking in with your local weather report to ensure the last spring frost has passed.
Before transplanting your lisianthus seedlings to their final location, I recommend you harden off your seedlings first. “Hardening off” is the process of acclimating your seedlings to the outside elements. When your seedlings live in a grow house, it can be very comfortable, and the conditions are pretty stable. However, a seedling that is immediately transplanted without hardening off has a higher rate of suffering from transplant shock, which can be detrimental to the life of your lisianthus.
For the first week, take your lisianthus seedlings outside to experience the actual sun; give them a few hours of sunlight in the first week. In the second week, you can increase the exposure of your seedlings to about 4 to 6 hours. In the third week, your lisianthus plants should be properly acclimated to the environment and can be transplanted. If the weather in our area is particularly windy, it might be best to skip hardening off for that day; strong gusts of wind can damage the seedling.
Examples of pests that the lisianthus plant might be susceptible to include aphids, whiteflies, and thrips. These pests won’t kill the lisianthus plant, but the damage they do leave behind can affect the flowers and foliage, which takes away from the beauty of the plant.
Aphids appear as clusters of tiny little green bugs that suck out the nutrients from your lisianthus. They commonly hang out on the underside of plants’ leaves, so make sure you give your lisianthus a thorough inspection.
Whiteflies are, just like the name implies, tiny white pests that hang around your lisianthus plant. Though they are capable of flies, they are not flies (they’re related to the aphid). Regardless, it’s not fun when you see these pests clustering under your leaves.
Thrips are tiny, slender winged insect that feeds by sucking out the nutrients from your leaves. As a result, these affected leaves are left with a peppered, stippling look on your leaves.
Luckily, all three of these pests can be managed using the same tools. If you’ve found that your lisianthus plant has been subjected to a pest infestation, treating your plant with insecticidal soap or neem oil will swiftly exterminate your pest problem.
Lisianthus plants are susceptible to fungal diseases such as downy mildew. Downy mildew results from improper watering combined with a lack of airflow between plants. If your lisianthus leaves start to develop spots that begin as yellow and later turn brown, that is a sign of downy mildew. Also, in exceptionally high humid conditions, a gray fuzz develops on the underside of your leaves.
Thankfully, once downy mildew is detected, it can easily be removed, and your lisianthus plant can be treated:
- Remove all signs of downy mildew by pruning the affected areas with a sterile pair of garden clippers.
- Destroy the infected foliage by burning or tossing it in the garbage.
- Remember to disinfect the clipper you used to prune, as the fungus can linger on your gardening tools.
And remember- prevention is critical with mildew. Ensure your plants are not crowding each other; improved airflow allows air to move freely between your lisianthus plants. If necessary, prune back your lisianthus plants to control their size and shape. In addition, you should always practice proper watering techniques. Make sure to water your lisianthus plants close to the base of the plant. Overhead watering leaves excess moisture trapped in the crevices of your plant, which only heightens the risk of mildew.
At first glance, it might seem that the lisianthus plant has some pretty lofty expectations. If you’re a new gardener, it might not seem very safe to learn how to collect lisianthus seeds. My best piece of advice would be to come as prepared as possible; making sure that you understand the lisianthus’ background and growing preferences makes the process so much simpler. All you need is to have one lisianthus plant, and by collecting their seeds, you can keep increasing generations of gorgeous lisianthus flowers.
Bethke, JA, Dreistadt, SH, & Varela, LG. “Thrips.” University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources. http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7429.html
“Gardening Tips: Collecting Seeds from Flowers.” Youtube, uploaded by eHow, 11 November 2008. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5IkJ1fuAMg
“Harvesting Lisianthus Seed | How Tiny is the Lisianthus Seed?” YouTube, uploaded by Footprints In The Garden, 12 November 2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jK6wAfPWvHo
Iannotti, Marie. “How to Harden Off Plants.” The Spruce. https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-harden-off-plants-1402554
McIntosh, Jamie. “How to Grow and Care for Lisianthus.” The Spruce. https://www.thespruce.com/lisianthus-flowers-1315711
The Editors. “Aphids: How to Identify and Get Rid of Aphids.” The Old Farmer’s Almanac. https://www.almanac.com/pest/aphids#
The Editors. “Whiteflies: How to Identify and Get Rid of Whiteflies.” The Old Farmer’s Almanac.” https://www.almanac.com/pest/whiteflies#