How to Grow Schizanthus Plants

Guide to Growing Butterfly Flower, Poor Man's Orchid and Fringeflower

Schizanthus plants are bushy half hardy annuals that range from 30 cm to 1.2 m in height.

They bloom from spring to autumn (dependent upon when sown) with orchid like flowers of pink, purple, red or yellow.

Some of the common names for Schizanthus include Fringe Flower, Butterfly Flower, and Poor Man's Orchid.

Schizanthus pinnatus
Schizanthus pinnatus – Butterfly Flower by Udo Schröter.

Poor Man's Orchid
Schizanthus - Poor Man's Orchid by Hunda. Both photographs under creative commons licence.

Quick Schizanthus Plant Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Butterfly Flower, Poor Man's Orchid, Fringeflower.
Life Cycle: Half hardy annual. Hardy biennial.
Height: 16 to 40 inches (40 to 100 cm).
Native: South America.
Growing Region: Zones 1 to 10.
Flowers: Spring, summer and/or autumn.
Flower Details: Red, yellow, white, pink, purple. Multicoloured. Speckled. Blotched. Orchid-like.
Foliage: Lobed. Fern-like.
Sow Outside: 1/8 inch. In warm areas sow seeds every two weeks from early spring until mid-spring, and in the autumn. In cooler areas start seeds indoors. Spacing 10 to 30 inches (25 to 75 cm).
Sow Inside: Germination time: one to three weeks. Temperature 65 to 70°F (18 to 21°C). Two months before expected last frost. Transplant outdoors a couple of weeks after the last frost; temperatures should not drop below 41°F (5°C).
Requirements: Full sunlight. Soil pH 6 to 7. Good drainage. Loam. Fertile soil. Regular light watering; avoid getting plant wet. Provide support. Pinch tips twice, once when the plant reaches about three inches (8 cm) and again at six inches (15 cm).
Miscellaneous: The common name for members of the Schizanthus genus is given because the flowers have a butterfly-like look.

How to Grow Schizanthus Plants in the Garden

It is best to grow Butterfly flower, Fringe flower and other members of the Schizanthus genus indoors from seeds. They should be sown at a depth of 3 mm in a rich soil of pH 6 to 7 about 2 months before the last expected frost of spring. It should take about two or three weeks for the Schizanthus seeds to germinate in the dark at a temperature of 15 to 23 degrees centigrade. Once growing, transplant the Schizanthus (Fringe flower) seedlings outdoors in the middle of spring a couple of weeks after the last chance of a frost. They should be grown in a sunny part of the garden and spaced from 25 cm (small Schizanthus species), 40cm (medium varieties) or 60 to 80 cm (large Schizanthus varieties) apart.

Caring for Butterfly flower, Fringe Flower - Schizanthus

It is not easy to look after Schizanthus species such as Butterfly flower and Fringe Flower. To get a nice bushy growth the plants should be pinched back at the tips when they reach 8cm, and again when they reach 16 cm in height. The young plants should be supported with stakes. Water regularly to keep the soil moist, but avoid getting water on the leaves and flowers. If you require more Schizanthus plants then it is best to grow them from seed or to purchase them from a garden center.

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