Also known as prairie gentian or bluebell gentian, lisianthus is native to the North American central plains, a tender perennial flower that is often grown as an annual. Featuring large purple and white bell-shaped flowers with flaring lobes that bloom on one or more upright stems, lisanthus is somewhat finicky to grow, but the effort is clearly worthwhile for anyone interested in cut flower work. It is often celebrated as a flower that looks like a rose but lasts longer in the vase and is in great demand for bridal bouquets and other special-occasion flower arrangements. Lisianthus plants are most commonly available in white, pink, purple, and cream, but you may occasionally see yellow or red flowering plants for sale. The flower’s foliage is dark green and lance-shaped, and slightly succulent in texture.
In its usual use as an annual garden flower, lisianthus planted from seeds grows slowly, reaching flowering maturity in five to six months. Thus, most gardeners plant them from commercial nursery plants that were started from seed in greenhouses the previous fall so they will erupt in fluttery, layered blooms in spring.
Grows 1–3 ft. tall, 6–12 in. wide.