Eustoma (lat. Eustoma), also called lisianthus (lat. Lisianthus meaning “bitter flower”), or prairie rose, or tulip gentian, or Texas bluebell, belongs to the family Gentianaceae. Latin word “eustoma” literally means “beautiful mouth” and more literary expression is “beautifully speaking.” The flower is native to the southern North America, Mexico, northern South America and the Caribbean islands. The legend of the Native Americans has it that the first time eustoma bloomed on the grave of an innocent girl that was killed by the spirit of war, because she refused to marry him. Patrick Brown, an Irish physician and botanist, was the first who introduced eustoma to European public. The plant is very popular among gardeners as a cut flower since a fresh-cut eustoma can last in a vase up to three weeks. As an indoor plant it has been cultivated since the nineties of the last century.
- 1. Audio article (coming soon)
- 2. Description of eustoma flower
- 3. Peculiarities of eustoma growing
- 4. Species and varieties of eustoma
- 5. Growing of eustoma from seeds
- 6. Eustoma at home
- 7. Eustoma in the garden
- 8. Eustoma after flowering
Description of eustoma flower
Eustoma has a strong stem, almost 3.2 ft in height, but it is slender like of a carnation. From the middle the stems begin to branch, so a branch is a whole bunch of flowers with up to 35 buds that open alternately. Eustoma leaves have grayish or bluish tinge, they are lanceolate-oval, dull as if made of wax. The cup of flower is funnel-shaped, large and deep. Eustoma flowers can be single-flowered and double-flowered, 2-3 inches in diameter, of different colors – pink, violet, white, purple, one-colored or with a contrast fringe. When an eustoma bud is half-opened, it resembles a rose, when the flower is fully opened, it resembles a double poppy. Eustoma is a biennial plant in the wild, in a garden it is usually grown as an annual plant. A perennial eustoma can be only as a potted plant. Outdoor eustoma can be grown as an annual and biennial plant.
Peculiarities of eustoma growing
- eustoma prefers a bright diffused light;
- the best soil for eustoma is a bark humus and peat in equal parts;
- it is propagated only by seeds since cuttings do not sprout and too fragile root system does not tolerate division;
- you need to water it only when the substrate is dry at the depth of 0.8 inch;
- try not to transplant a plant: it is a perennial only nominally, and the roots will not stand transplantation;
- at home eustoma blooms best in a cool ventilated room.
Although in the wild there are about 60 species of eustoma, in a pot you can grow only varieties of eustoma Russelianus while in the garden you can grow varieties of eustoma Grandiflorum. Some growers even believe that this is one and the same species, and while scientists-growers are finding out who is right, we classify the species and varieties of eustoma by their purposes. Eustoma can be dwarf (not higher than 18 inches) or tall. Tall varieties are grown in the garden as cut flowers and dwarf varieties are grown as indoor potted or balcony flowers.
Tall garden eustoma for cut flower arrangements
- Aurora: it is a double-flowered eustoma with the height of 35-47 inches. The color of flowers can be blue, white, blue and pink. It is an early-flowering variety and it starts blooming 2-3 weeks earlier than other varieties;
- Echo: it is an early-flowering variety with a height of 27 inches. The stem is branchy and the flowers are large. There are 11 color variations that can be both one-colored and bicolored;
- Heidi: this variety with simple flowers has a height of 35 inches. It blooms profusely and has 15 color variations;
- Flamenco: the height of this variety is 35-47 inches. It has strong stems, simple but large flowers (up to 3 inches) and lots of color variations. The main advantage is that this variety is carefree.
Dwarf varieties of eustoma for growing indoor
- Mermaid: its height is only 5-6 inches. Single flowers with a diameter of up to 2.3 inches come in shades of white, blue, pink and violet. Top removal to increase branching is not needed;
- Little Bell: it is not higher than 6 inches. The flowers are simple, small, funnel-shaped, and come in different shades. Top removal is not needed;
- Loyalty: it is a white eustoma with multiple simple flowers placed on a spike spirally. The height is up to 8 inches;
- Florida Pink: it is a pink eustoma with simple flowers that form an aligned bouquet.
Growing of eustoma at home can be a tough task that requires time and patience. However, if mastered, this process can become profitable as eustoma is becoming more and more popular both as a garden flower and as a potting culture. In this section we will focus on how to grow eustoma from the seeds, and the main difficulty of this process is that the eustoma seeds are very tiny: there are 23,000 grain seeds in 0.03 oz! Seeds for sale are specially treated to enhance germination since only sixty out of a hundred seeds sprout.
If eustoma is grown from seeds for planting out in the garden, then it should be sown in February or March and it will bloom in July and August. You should take a substrate for flower plants: sterilized, with a low nitrogen content, pH 6-7. Scatter the seeds and do not cover them with soil, simply press them gently into the ground and cover a container with foil or glass, leaving a chink for air circulation and arrange additional lighting with fluorescent lamps for 10-12 hours a day. The germination temperature should be at least 68 °F during the day and at least 57 °F at night. Instead of watering, spray seeds from time to time, but it is unlikely that you will have to do this for the first two months as the evaporated moisture will be enough. If all conditions are fulfilled, the seedlings should appear no later than in two weeks, and at once you should remove the cover and periodically spray seedlings with a fungicide solution. When sprouts get a few pairs of leaves (it will happen about in a month and a half), they are pricked out into the pots of 1.6-2 inches in diameter. In three months, the seedlings are planted with a clod of soil in the ground.
Planting of eustoma
If in winter you want to decorate your flat with a flowering eustoma, you should sow it from July to September. Fill a small container with a wet substrate consisting of sand and peat (1: 1) and scatter the seeds over it. Covered with foil or glass, the container should be placed in a warm (66-72 ºF) and well lit place, spray the seeds with water, if needed, and in 2-3 weeks sprouts will appear.
Once the seedlings get the first pair of leaves, reduce the amount of moisture, letting the top layer of the soil dry out between waterings. In the future, hydration is carried out only in the morning for the leaves to be dry at night. This will help avoid the “blackleg disease”. When sprouts get two pairs of leaves, you can pricked them out into individual pots and wait for flowering that should occur in January and February.
Care for eustoma at home
Growing of eustoma in the pots is not easy since it crucially needs fresh air and bright diffused light. The best way out is the west or east windowsill in the room where the optimal temperature of 66-72 ºF with a regular airing can be arranged. In addition, care for eustoma requires a moderate watering with soft sedimented water as the topsoil gets dry. Try to avoid a soil waterlogging as well as its drying out. It is not necessary to spray the plant as it can cause the diseases of leaves. During the period of intensive growth, and during the formation of flower buds you should apply a liquid combined fertilizers in the consistency of 0.35- 0.5 fl oz per 3.3 gallons of water. And, of course, you need to timely remove the faded flowers. Try to follow these recommendations and your eustoma will delight you again with its flowering in 90-100 days.
How to grow eustoma
Garden eustoma can be grown from seeds by sowing them in December or January to get a bloom in June or July. 1.75 fl oz cups are filled with peat mixture for saintpaulias and 3-5 seeds are scattered over the soil surface and lightly pressed into the ground. The cups are covered with foil for eustoma to grow as in a greenhouse. The foil should be removed for a awhile every 10 days to wipe the condensate away and let the shoots breathe a little. The optimal temperature for the sprouts to appear in two weeks is 68-77 °F. The seedlings also need extra lighting for the first two months, but even if all these necessary conditions are kept the seedlings will still grow very slowly. In late February, the seedlings should be placed on a sunny windowsill.
Planting of eustoma for seedlings
As a preventative measure of diseases, you should process the seedlings with a solution of fungicide, and for faster growth you can apply a vitamin hormone concentrate. In a month and a half, when a pair of leaves appear, 3-5 seedlings are pricked out into pots, deepening them into the ground at the level of lower leaves. Do not forget to water and cover each pot with a plastic bag for the greenhouse effect. In a week, the seedlings will grow twice their size. In late February or early March, seedlings are transplanted with a clod of soil into the pots with bigger diameter ( up to 3 inches) and with a drainage layer. Now they will grow in the pots until planting out in the open field.
Growing of eustoma in the garden
In mid-May, when there is no risk of frosts, seedlings are planted out in open ground. The place for eustoma should be protected from drafts, with a good drainage, sunny, but the light should be diffused. Planting is carried out in the evening or in cloudy weather. The seedling with a clod of soil in which it grew in the pot is immersed in a well-watered hole. Eustoma grows as a bush, so they should be planted 4-6 inches apart. After planting, cover the seedlings with glass jars or cut plastic bottles for the first 2-3 weeks, and there is no need to water them at this time. We have already mentioned the irrigation rules, but still we will repeat them once again: both excessive watering and lack of moisture harm eustoma.
When 6-8 leaves appear, remove the top of the stem for the plant to branch better. About in a month after planting, when the seedlings are already deeply rooted, it is necessary to feed them with a soluble mineral fertilizer. In June, apply a fertilizer with a high content of nitrogen, and in July and August you should apply a fertilizer that increases budding. Just try to use fertilizers in a slightly lower concentration than it is offered by the manufacturers.
When eustoma starts flowering will depend on when the seeds were sown. If sown in late November or early December, eustoma will start blooming at the beginning or middle of July ( it depends on what the spring is like). If you sow seeds in mid-January, it is likely to start blooming in August. Eustoma flowering lasts until the end of October: when one flowers wither, others start blooming and so on. Flowering eustoma is not afraid of early frosts, and only 14 °F frost and snowfall can stop blooming of eustoma. If your eustoma stopped blooming too early, cut off the faded flowers, and, it is quite possible, that eustoma will bloom again in about six weeks.
Eustoma is afraid of such pests as aphids, slugs, spider mites and whitefly. For the protection against insects you can apply Actellic or any other insecticide. To manage powdery mildew, blight or gray mold, you should apply fungicides.
If a potted eustoma has withered, cut the stems to leave 2-3 internodes, and place it in a room with a temperature of 50-59 ºF. During a dormant period watering should be rare and there is no need to feed the plant. In spring, when you see the new shoots, transplant it gently with a clod of soil into a new soil and resume a normal watering and care.
You can prolong the flowering of your garden eustoma by transplanting it in a pot with the garden soil, and placing it in a balcony or on a windowsill. It will delight you with its bloom for some time at home. But all plants have dormant period. After withering of flowers and yellowing of leaves the garden eustoma is treated in the same way as indoor eustoma: the stem is cut at a height of 2-3 internodes and placed to a cool, well-ventilated room without being watered. There it should stay until spring.