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Anyone growing their own lisianthus starts?

Posted by thinman Z5 MI (My Page) on
Sat, Jan 16, 10 at 17:01

I may be crazy, but I'm going to try to start my own lisianthus plants this year. I have read that they are really slow-growing, don't like to be hot, and are super-sensitive to root restriction (from the Arnoskys' book). I wouldn't mind paying for a tray of started plants, but the order minimums I have run across are just too much for a tiny operator like me to swing.

Have any of you been successful starting your own?

ThinMan


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Anyone growing their own lisianthus starts?

I've done what I should have done in the first place - a search of the forum - and found a nice thread on exactly this subject. So I'm answering my own message to allow it to start trickling down the list. I'd still enjoy hearing from anyone who feels like responding, but I do have some good info now to get me going.

TM


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RE: Anyone growing their own lisianthus starts?

ThinMan, I did try starting my own lisianthus for the last three years or so. I start all my seed by winter-sowing, and I actually had very good germination with lisianthus via this method.

However, the plants are indeed extremely slow to get going. The first year I planted them all in a big container, and I had a beautiful planting of them that didn't start blooming until quite late (September, I think) but lasted well into November.

The next year I decided to try growing some for market, and that year I did not have as much success growing on. Still great germination, but planting out and growing didn't go so well. I did bring a few trays of them into the house for the winter, and then got some cuts in the spring, but it was a lot of work for a little result.

Last year was a bust just because of the rainy spring and summer we had. Again, good germination, but most of the seedlings just didn't make it (like many other seedlings which didn't make it either). Again, because I'm a sucker, I have a few trays sitting in my living room, and am hoping for a few cuts this spring.

But for this spring, I decided to forego the seeds. Just yesterday I was struggling with myself as I looked through the catalogs, but I held firm. If I can find a good price on plugs I may try them that way.

I think you should have good germination results. And if you pay more attention to your seedlings than I did you might have better plants. Do you have a greenhouse?

Can you post a link to the thread you found? I would love to read it (probably already read it, but would love to read it again!)

Good luck!
Dee


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RE: Anyone growing their own lisianthus starts?

Right. From everything I have read, germination is not the hard part. I do have a small greenhouse where I move my plants once I have started them under lights, but it's been hard for me to keep the temp from spiking on sunny days. I think that would likely be a crippler for the lisianthus. Not that I won't find some other way to do them in. :-)

Thanks a lot for writing about your experiences.

TM

Here is a link that might be useful: Here's the link, Dee.


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RE: Anyone growing their own lisianthus starts?

Dee/Thinman - Hi!
I am glad you found the old thread! As a small grower without a greenhouse or hoophouse, plugs are the only way for me. And, from one of the growers who "know" how to grow them, so you have a full tray to start with.

For the past 2 years, I've ordered 4 trays, bumped them up in late April and planted in June, and still have a tough time getting them to bloom before hard freezes.

I've also covered them with shade cloth and used the support netting. Last year, I think my shade cloth was too dense, and didn't let enough light in. I also didn't get them weeded as well, so I had some blooms, but we had 20degree nights in early October and that doomed them!

So, I'm seriously thinking about not growing these this year, because the cost of the plugs, and soil/labor to pot them up and keep them watered, and time to replant in my raised beds is probably not quite worth it! I can't compete with the floral wholesalers with that small of quantity and by that time of year, I don't have much else to go with them.

My limitation is no greenhouse/hoophouse! They do grow tall, just don't bloom early enough to be of use.

Good luck!
Wendy


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RE: Anyone growing their own lisianthus starts?

I grow lisianthus from seed. When I was first researching it, I was quite intimidated - but I love a challenge! This will be my 3rd year growing them from seed, and I get flowers starting in July.

I will actually start my lissies tomorrow. I sow them on the surface of the soil in 72 cell plug trays. I place the trays on heat mats until they germinate, then immediately move them off. I keep the trays in the path of a fan (set to low) just to keep the surface relatively dry to prevent algae growth. They do grow VERY slow. When they are large enough to handle, I pot them up into 3" pots, fertilize them, and put them back near the fan.

I plant them in a high tunnel. The first year I grew lissies I planted some in the tunnel as well as outside, and I barely got any usable cuts from the outside plants. Now, they are only grown in the high tunnel, and I try to get them in April 1st-15th. I have grown the Echo series - but will try the lime cinderella and ABC yellow this year too.

Hope that helps!


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RE: Anyone growing their own lisianthus starts?

Thanks, Wendy and Ekgrows, for the info and encouragement. I didn't mention it, but I will be putting up a modest hoophouse in the spring, and I'm planning on putting the lisianthus in there as soon as I can, if I'm lucky enough to have any to plant.

It sounds like I'd better not dawdle, so I guess I'll get them started tomorrow. Let the fun begin!

TM


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RE: Anyone growing their own lisianthus starts?

My Lizzies sprouted! It takes a while to see them, but after staring at the cells for a few minutes, I saw lots of little specks of green.

Thinman - Any luck yet?


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RE: Anyone growing their own lisianthus starts?

Hey thinman, I grew lisianthus from seed last year for the first time. Everyone i know grows them in a hoop house, but I don't have one(yet). So I figured I just wanted to try some outside and see what happened. By growing them from seed I could make it less of a gamble. I grew them on plastic with a netting for support. They did great and they were flowering by August or September. A few died off, but the rest did fine. I"m planning to do more from seed this year and like your's they are just starting to sprout now after being sowed on jan. 25th. I have them in the basement on a heat mat, under flourescents with a fan down there. If I can remember from last year I think I kept them under the flourescents after I potted them up because I read that when they get too warm they stop growing and our greenhouse can easily get up to 80 on a sunny day.
Good luck!
Nicole


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RE: Anyone growing their own lisianthus starts?

Ekgrows - Thanks for asking. Yes, I am having a little luck, some of it bad. A week after sowing 100 Echo and 100 Cinderella I took a 10 day vacation. I didn't give very good directions to my helpful waterer and she said there were sprouts, but they dried out and croaked before I got home. I added some water to the trays and I now have about a dozen new sprouts and I can clearly see the little leaves. I've moved them to a bottom shelf where the temp is about 60 F, and I thik I'll rig up a fan like you and Nicole did. That sounds like a great idea.

Meanwhile I sowed another 100 Echos a week ago, all the seeds I had left. That's great that yours sprouted. Keep us posted on their progress, OK?

Nicole - I'm glad to hear of your success. Good job! That means there's hope. I don't have a heat mat, but in a closed container right smack under the fluorescent lights, the temp is a steady 75 - 80 F. That seems to be doing the trick. My little greenhouse gets hot fast just like yours, so I'll do the same thing - keep them inside. Thanks a lot for sharing.

ThinMan


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RE: Anyone growing their own lisianthus starts?

I have both ordered them and grown them from seed and both have advantages. The problem I had with ordering them was that they never came into bloom until the end of July. They are also fairly pricey. If I order the more expensive seed from GeoSeed - say 100 seeds for $3.50 and only get about 70% (you can do better but you have to pay closer attention), that's about a nickel per plant. I grow hundreds of them so this is quite a bit cheaper than the sprouted price.

The bad thing about starting them from seed is you have fewer options on varieties - GeoSeed has the most options and the best prices, but you can't get Marachi or some of the latest varieties. I like Twinkle (a sinlge), Cinderella and Magic. Echo is OK, cheap and nice colors, but seem to be a little shorter. I start all of them in 100 or 200 cell trays and them bump them up to 72 cell liners and sometimes to 36 cell liners before I plant them out. They are not very sensitive to cold and I have never had problems with them "rosetting" from too much heat, probablky becuase I have such a tiny greenhouse.

Whether from seed or plants, I don't think you can go wrong growing them. People just love the look and they last a really long time in water.


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RE: Anyone growing their own lisianthus starts?

Thanks for chiming in, Goodscents. My little guys are plugging along very slowly and I think I'll be lucky to get even close to the 70 % mark. Time will tell.

TM


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RE: Anyone growing their own lisianthus starts?

You all were so helpful when I first asked this question, and I thought you might like to see what I ended up with. The short answer is not many, but they sure are pretty. Only about 12 plants survived the initial seeding of a few hundred seeds, and when other plants started filling up my little greenhouse, I really just kind of gave up and almost forgot about the lissies. I did water them as needed, and they kept poking along. I had read such dire warnings about how they hate heat and having their roots disturbed, and I figured they were goners, or would be, once I transplanted them.

Then, almost all of them started sending up stalks. By July 1, I figured I had nothing to lose and popped them in the ground, thinking that would be the kiss of death for them.

Here's what I have today.


Hardly enough to sell, but at least I got blooms. I may put a few in bouquets and charge $100 each for them. :-)

I think it's interesting that there was no problem transplanting them after they had got big, given everything I had read about never ever letting their roots get the slightest bit crowded or they will rosette and not put up any flower stalks. On the other hand, mine are definitely on the short side, maybe 12-14 inches tall.

Are my plants a poor approximation of what lisianthus are like when they are done right?

At this point, I'm not sure if I'll try again next year.

ThinMan

ThinMan


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RE: Anyone growing their own lisianthus starts?

Nice thin man! Glad you got some! If you still have some plants that haven't bloomed, pinch out the terminal bud. They will branch, and give you more usable cuts.

I too find it very interesting that they are supposedly so hard to grow, yet seem to deal with neglect just fine. Plants are resilient - guess that includes the very hard to grow lizzy.

Congrats on your first lisianthus!


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RE: Anyone growing their own lisianthus starts?

Thanks for the follow-up! I was just thinking of this thread the other day when a friend asked me why I didn't grow and sell lisanthus. She loves them so much I think she will buy plugs next year for me to grow. Not a bad deal for me, huh, lol?

Thinman, yours look pretty good. This is what my first-year-attempt plants looked like, only mine didn't bloom until late September.

Just curious - why do you say you're not sure if you will try again next year? Too much work for too little return? Or something else?

:)
Dee


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RE: Anyone growing their own lisianthus starts?

Thinman, are you trying lisianthus from seed again this year? Don't give up after last years tough season! Consider yourself experienced and ready to be challenged anew! :)


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RE: Anyone growing their own lisianthus starts?

Steve - Call me a wimp-out, but I just can't whip up any enthusiasm for trying it again this year. I'll be happy to use the space for something I'm pretty sure I can grow and use.

How about you?

TM


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RE: Anyone growing their own lisianthus starts?

Well Thinman, I'm giving it a try. I put 2 flats of 6 packs (96 cells total) in the refrigerator today to cold stratify. According to Armitage I should get better germination if they stay there for 11-15 days. Normally I could just put them outside but we're having an unseasonably warm spell and are expecting a record high around 70 degrees tomorrow. I'm trying the Cinderella series color mix.


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