SCHIZANTHUS (butterfly flower)

5 deg C/41 deg F

For many years this has been one of the most popular greenhouse and conservatory pot plants, usually in the form of various hybrids and cultivars. The true species, mostly natives of Chile, are rarely grown. Certain seedsmen have specialized in schizanthus and developed some magnificent strains, and schizanthus were at one time a feature of the great shows, like the Chelsea Flower Show, where great banks of these plants were exhibited with thrilling effect. Schizanthus are very easy to grow from seed, but the older strains tended to grow rather tall and take up considerable space. The best results were obtained by growing them as a biennial, sowing in autumn and growing on over winter in frost-free conditions for spring flowering. These plants needed to have the growing tips removed a number of times to produce bushy growth. For anyone inexperienced in greenhouse techniques, results could be erratic and a show standard difficult to attain. Very recently all this has changed, with the introduction of some remarkable dwarf strains.

The new dwarf kinds can be sown in spring on a window-sill for late spring to summer flowering, and they need no pinching to induce bushiness. and no training whatsoever. A short time ago ‘Dwarf Bouquet’ and ‘Hit Parade’ were

introduced. These are still excellent and grow to a height of 50—15cm. The latest. ‘Star Parade’, grows only to about 25cm (10in) at the most, and is bound to become an especially popular pot plant for the home because of its sturdy and compact habit. Plants in bud will probably appear in shops in spring. The foliage is beautifully ferny and dainty, like the usual schizanthus strains, and the flowers have acquired the large size and amazing colour range of the giant forms. When in lull bloom the plants are smothered with the delightful intricately veined and marked blooms, the appearance of which has also inspired the popular name of poor man’s orchid, although they are really like small bright exotic butterflies. Every colour and combination is represented. If you grow your own schizanthus from seed, it is best to put three or four seedlings to each 10cm (4in) pot. Just keep the plants watered and in a bright place. There is no need for any other cultural treatment.

If you grow the taller kinds in a greenhouse. they can be brought indoors for a while, but pinch out the growing tips early to induce bushiness. After flowering, which will continue for many weeks, the plants can be discarded. Over-watering or erratic watering may cause the foliage to turn brown or yellow at the base. Protect the plants from direct sunshine and keep cool during the flowering period.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.