A small group of dainty half-hardy annuals and tender perennials. Although the flowering season is short-lived the unusual shaped blooms make a interesting and exotic addition to the summer display.
Family: Solanaceae (Potato family)
Botanical Name: Schizanthus
Common Names: Angel wings, butterfly orchid, butterfly flower, fringeflower, poor-man's-orchid
Foliage: Delicate, feathery (fern-like), fresh green foliage.
Flowers: Unusual orchid-like flowers with irregularly notched or round corollas. Available in shades of white, pink, red, orange or purple, often with patches of contrasting colour.
Flowering Period: June to July
Soil: Moist but well-drained, moderately fertile soil (sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.
Conditions: Full sun or partial shade. Best grown in an east or south facing aspect.
Habit: Erect, bushy.
Type: Half-hardy Annual.
Hardiness: Half-hardy in the UK. Protect from frost.
Schizanthus thrive in a fertile sandy loam in a warm, sunny situation.
Although they can be grown successfully in the border they are easily damaged by cold wet weather. Therefore, they are best grown in a conservatory or as a houseplant. Alternatively they can planted in pots and containers which can be brought under-cover during inclement weather.
Cut flowers last well in water.
Water regularly during dry weather and water container grown plants daily.
Pinch out the shoots of young plants to encourage bushier growth.
To improve flowering, apply an all-purpose flowering plant food (slightly higher in phosphorus and potassium) every few weeks, or use a slow release form. Do not over fertilize.
Support taller forms with twigs if necessary.
Deadhead regularly to extend the flowering period.
Pull up and discard plants to the compost heap after flowering. Container grown plants can be brought indoors to over winter as houseplants.
Aphids can be a problem on young plants.
Sow in a greenhouse or propagator at 16-18°C (60-65°F) in February-April, in trays of good seed compost. Lightly cover the seeds and do not exclude light. Prick out and pot on once seedlings are large enough to handle. Harden off before planting out at the end of May once all danger of frost is past.
Alternatively, sow in flowering position in April. Gradually thin seedlings to 6in (15cm) apart.
Both tall and dwarf forms are available.
Schizanthus 'Dwarf Bouquet Mixed' bears crimson, rose, amber, pink and salmon blooms. Ideal for borders, containers or as a houseplant. Height: 12-15in (30-38cm). For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
Schizanthus pinnatus is the most frequently grown hybrid. Cultivars include:
Schizanthus x wisetonensis is a tender, compact, bushy annual with a mixture of pink, lavender, white and rose red flowers with yellow centres. Cultivars include 'Butterfly' with large blooms in shades of pink and white, Height 18 to 24in (45-60cm), spread 8in (20cm).