Schizanthus, Butterfly Flower, Poor Man's Orchid

By: C. Colston Burrell
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Schizanthus is a spectacular

Schizanthus, also called butterfly flower and poor man's orchid, revels in cool-weather climates, blooming well in late winter and spring in frost-free climates and other regions with long periods of cool weather in the spring and summer. Where they grow well, the flowers are spectacular. Although flowers are large and open, somewhat resembling butterflies and orchids, they're related to petunias and tomatoes and are native to Chile.


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Description of schizanthus: Large clusters of flowers open above the finely cut, fernlike foliage. Compact varieties can grow up to 21/2 feet tall and, when loaded with flowers, tend to tumble. The range of flower color is wide: pink, white, lavender, blue, gold, red, and magenta, with many flowers marked with other colors.

Growing schizanthus: Schizanthus likes cool, sunny conditions and a rich, moist soil high in organic matter. Under warmer conditions, light shade is good. They must have perfect drainage. Because they bloom best with root restriction, they are most often grown in containers. For garden planting, space them 12 inches apart. Plant outdoors after all danger of frost has passed.


Propagating schizanthus: Start new plants from seeds. Sow seeds indoors 12 weeks prior to the last frost. Cover seeds; they respond to darkness. Seeds germinate in 20 to 30 days at 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Uses for schizanthus: Schizanthus is a natural for containers. It also makes a superb cut flower.

Scientific name of schizanthus: Schizanthus x wisetonensis


Want more information? Try these links:

  • Annual Flowers. Discover your favorite annual flowers. We've organized them by color, sunlight, soil type, and height to make it easy to plan your garden.
  • Annuals. There's more to an annuals garden than flowers. Learn about all of the annuals that enhance your garden.
  • Perennial Flowers. Complement your annuals with these delightful perennial flowers. They are also organized by height, soil type, sunlight, and color.