Lisianthus, prairie gentian, is an annual with roselike flowers. Each blossom lasts for several weeks, and plants bloom nonstop. Popular cultivars are hybridized from native prairie gentians.
Description: Cultivated types of lisianthus range from one to four feet tall, with two- to four-inch single or double flowers of white, pink, lavender, blue, deep rose, and cream. Some have white petals edged in a contrasting color. Plants set out in spring bloom until frost in fall.
How to grow: Grow in rich, well-drained soil in full sun. Water regularly to make sure young plants do not dry out. Space 12 to 24 inches apart. Deadhead or cut blooms for bouquets to stimulate growth. Stake tall plants.
Propagation: Most gardeners buy plants. Dustlike seeds take more than three weeks to germinate and several months under lights to reach outdoor planting size.
Uses: Use shorter types in the front of borders and beds and in containers. Grow tall types in masses toward the back of borders, and cut flowers for long-lasting bouquets.
Related varieties: Forever Blue is an ever-flowering award winner, a foot tall. Mermaid is similar but comes in many colors. Heidi hybrids have huge blooms on taller plants.
Scientific name: Eustoma grandiflorum