Lisianthus can mimic the look of a roseIt is always fun to try different plant materials in the garden that resemble “hard to grow’ or non-native plants for our region.
By: John Zvirovski, Sun Garden Editor, The Jamestown Sun
It is always fun to try different plant materials in the garden that resemble “hard to grow’ or non-native plants for our region.
On this year’s garden tour, I heard many comments about the lisianthus plants in the yard and how they resembled roses.
Since I have grown these in the yard for years, I have taken them for granted, with their unique qualities that seem so new to other people. It actually opened my eyes to why I plant this annual in the garden every year — because their flowers are so beautiful and dynamic.
Last week I mentioned how silver falls dichondra can mimic the Spanish moss of the south, when planted in hanging baskets.
Similarly, we can plant Siberian iris next to water and pond features to resemble cattail greens.
Castor beans and elephant ears can mimic the many large-leafed species of the tropics and Yucca plants tend to bring in a trait from the Southwest. Though most are annuals in our area, they still have very fine qualities for us to plant in our gardens year after year.
Most people find it difficult to grow roses and frankly, the large roses of the hybrid tea varieties are touchy and very high maintenance.
One of the annuals available that resembles roses is the double flowering selections of the lisianthus. It is the rose-like flowers that get frequent notice, as some bloom in shades of lavender and dark purple, which are hard to find in the actual rose species.
Every year I plant this annual in the garden because of its unique qualities.
Depending on the selection you choose, the plants can grow anywhere from 8 to 30 inches in height and about a foot wide.
They have semi-succulent leaves in a bluish-green color, about 1 to 2 inches in length. The stems are straight and strong and terminate in a cluster of flower buds, which open a few at a time. The buds will unfurl to show a single bloom that resembles a poppy or full-blown tulip.
In some double selections, these flowers will resemble a rose or peony-style flower.
Flowers can bloom in white, pink, purple and lavender. In some cases, they can be pale yellow, lime green and bi-colors. All shades have their own unique qualities for different areas of the garden.
As with most plants in our region, they prefer full sunlight and a good soil. They are also very drought-tolerant and cannot tolerate wet soils for any period of time. If there is a dry location in your garden, this plant would do well in that spot.
If you are looking for a tall double white flower, try the balboa white, which reaches 30 inches tall, but may require staking.
The forever blue and forever white selections will produce double blooms in a deep purple-violet color and white on compact plants of ten inches tall.
The lisa pink produces beautiful single pink blooms on short plants eight inches tall.
Other selections, such as the echo pink and echo blue have double flowers on 18-inch plants.
Then there are the stunning varieties of the mariachi green, with its exquisite lime green flowers on 30-inch stems and the cinderella yellow with its double yellow flowers on 18- to 22- inch plants.
Many of the taller varieties are used for cut flowers and are very popular in the florist trade. Not only are they cheaper to produce than roses in the trade, they also have the ability to last anywhere from two to three weeks in a vase. It is this long-lived quality of the blooms that make them so desirable for vase arrangements.
Many brides opt for these flowers in their bouquets, as a deep purple rose is hard to find. Since this flower resembles the rose, it looks great on its own or mixed in with roses to make a more full bouquet at less expense.
It might be a little late to find the lisianthus plants for sale this year, but I would definitely keep them in mind for next year. Many greenhouses do not sell them, but be vigilant until you find them and you will be very happy once they are found.
Plant them singly in the garden or in mass, but I will guarantee you, in mass they will demand attention from others once they begin to bloom.
If you have trouble growing roses, but like something that looks similar, this is the plant to grow. Not only are they wonderful and unique, they are easy to grow. Who wouldn’t want a plant like that!