This rare exotic plant is little known outside its native homeland of Mexico. A choice species, and seldom offered, Lisianthius nigrescens bears long, tubular flowers of the darkest black, on slender, towering stems. This extraordinary perennial makes a dramatic specimen plant and a fascinating talking point that will create interest and wonder at the back of borders. Lisianthius nigrescens is half-hardy but will require winter protection in a frost free environment during the winter months. Height: 180cm (71"). Spread: 50cm (20").
Sow lisianthius seed from January to March on the surface of a good seed compost and cover with a sprinkling of compost or vermiculite. Place the seed tray in a propagator at a temperature of 18-25C (64-77F) or seal it inside a polythene bag. Keep the compost moist but not wet. Do not exclude light as this aids germination which usually takes 14-30 days.
When seedlings are large enough to handle, gently transplant them into 7.5cm (3") pots taking care to disturb the roots as little as possible. Grow them on in cooler conditions until large enough to plant outdoors. When lisianthus plants are well grown and all risk of frost has passed, acclimatise them to outdoor conditions over 7 to 10 days. Transplant lisianthius into containers and borders at a distance of 60cm (24") apart, in fertile, neutral to alkaline, well drained soil. Choose a sheltered position in full sun, with protection from strong winds. Avoid disturbing the roots when transplanting lisianthius as this may slow their subsequent growth.
Feed and water Lisianthius plants regularly, particularly during hot, dry periods. Lisianthius flower stems may require staking with short canes or plant supports. Move containers of Lisianthus nigrescens to a bright frost free position in autumn for overwintering.
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