Although often overlooked for container gardening, the lisianthus certainly cannot be overlooked once it blooms! A late bloomer, Lisianthus seed is dust particle size and may take up to three weeks to germinate; once it does, you may have to wait for another 18 weeks to see a bloom. If you are thinking of transplanting lisianthus next spring, the time to start seeds of lisianthus is now.
Primarily grown as an annual, the lisianthus is easily grown (once started) in average, well-drained soil. The lisianthus is a sun loving plant that needs at least six hours of full sunlight daily. Still, once the lisianthus begins blooming you'll see that it was well worth the wait!
The many names common to the lisianthus include the Tulip Gentian, the Texas Bluebell, Prairie gentian, and the bluebell gentian. Because it is a high-maintenance plant and susceptible to many plant diseases, the lisianthus is an excellent candidate for container gardening where you can control the elements!
Botanically known as Eustoma grandiflorum, both gardeners and poets have lauded the beauty of the lisianthus for centuries. Most notably, William Cullen Bryant wrote the poem, "To the Fringed Gentian" in praise of this lovely flower and poetess Emily Dickinson wrote,
"God made a little Gentian-
It tried-to be a Rose-
And failed-and all the Summer laughed-
But just before the Snows
There rose a Purple Creature-
That ravished all the Hill-
And Summer hid her Forehead-
And Mockery-was still-"
Whether you are container gardening lisianthus or growing this gentian in your garden, pinch back the young plants for well-branched plants that display big, elegant blooms of large trumpet shaped flowers spanning up to two inches across. Dwarf varieties of lisianthus grow these stately blooms on stems only eight to ten inches long, although the standard lisianthus may grow up to three feet tall.The most common colors of the flower are a deep purple (hence the name bluebell) or a dazzling white, however the lisianthus is also available in shades of pink and blue violet. Deadheading (removing spent flowers) will encourage the lisianthus to bloom again.