There are not so many true annuals among indoor plants. Most of the crops that are thrown out after a luxurious and prolonged flowering, in fact, can be saved for the next year and made to bloom more than once. Schizanthus is really an annual. But the “poor man’s orchid” has such beautiful flowers, and they bloom in such quantities that the need to change the plant for a new one every year will not spoil the pleasure of re-growing it. Schizanthus is a unique culture that is just beginning to gain popularity in our country and is still better known as a garden plant.
Schizanthus wisetonensis (Schizanthus wisetonensis). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com mork
Poor Man’s Lovely Orchid
Schizanthus is best known among flower growers all over the world precisely under the sonorous name “poor man’s orchid” Only, unlike real orchids, the plant is originally not a indoor greenhouse, but a garden one. Schizanthus (sometimes their name is pronounced as schizanthus) moved to indoor culture from potted gardens, conquering with their ability to achieve much more abundant and long-lasting flowering, not depending on the vagaries of the weather.
Schizanthus and orchids do not have common related roots: Schizanthus belong to Solanaceae and have much more in common with physalis and tomatoes. So the beautiful flowers of Schizanthus should not be misleading. Across the globe, charming annuals spread from Chile, although they are found in nature in southern Africa.
They are especially popular today in Great Britain, where the fashion for schizanthus has secured them the title of absolute favorite among garden and indoor summer seasoners. The name of the plant directly refers to the shape of the flower – from the Greek ‘schizo’ (to split) and ‘anthos’ (flower).
Types and varieties of schizanthus
Only compact varieties of these amazing annuals are used as a houseplant. Schizanthus have much more choice in garden culture, but only varieties with a height of about 20-30 cm, compact, dense, surprisingly decorative, are suitable for interiors. These plants cannot be called crumbs: the abundance of flowers, under which luxurious greenery only modestly peeps through, makes any schizanthus massive and powerful.
The vast majority of schizanthus that are sold as indoor plants represent one single species of this annual – Schizanthus Vizetonsky (Schizanthus wisetonensis), or rather, various hybrid varieties of this species (the Viseetone schizanthus itself is also a plant obtained by crossing, so that the indoor varieties are actually hybrids of the hybrid).
In fact, the origin of the indoor schizanthus is always unknown and they are chosen purely for their decorative qualities. The number of varieties is constantly growing, and new mixtures and color variations appear every year in even greater quantities.
Schizanthus is a favorite not only of European designers, but also of breeders who are constantly experimenting with crossing and improving flowering characteristics. Such varieties and mixtures of schizanthus have long become classic in room culture, such as:
- Schizanthus ‘Brilliant’ – legendary bright carmine variety with a yellow spot in the center of the flower and interesting small “ripples”;
- Schizanthus ‘Zwerg Bukett’ – dwarf, up to 20 cm in height, a multi-colored variety with dazzling colors of orange, pink, red, yellow tones with increased spotting;
- Schizanthus ‘Star Parade’ – an amazing variety with beautiful contrasting spots and strokes;
- Schizanthus ‘Hit Parade’ – a mixture of varieties with the brightest acrylic colors of flowers;
- Schizanthus ‘Roter Herold’ – large-flowered variety with scarlet-red, aristocratic flowers;
- Schisanthus ‘Dwarf Bouquet’ – with rich colors of abundant curly and compact bushes.
But it is better to choose schizanthus not by the name of the variety, but by color and size, focusing on purely aesthetic characteristics.
Schisanthus are very compact and dense plants that are very fond of being treated with inhibitors in flower centers. At home, purchased plants, especially those in the stage of mass flowering, can quickly stretch and grow actively, but this is a completely normal process. With proper formation, the maximum height of the schizanthus of the Vizetone dwarf variety will not exceed 30 cm.
In schizanthus, the leaves are most often compared to ferns, although it is certainly very far from the full-fledged greenery of this summer. Strongly branching, lodging or straight shoots are decorated with graceful, if not filigree, with a deep section and “sharp” details, pinnately-divided leaves. Both greens and shoots are covered with a fringe, which gives them a matte and velvety texture, perfectly emphasizing a fairly light color tone.
Schizanthus have irregular flowers, not so much like orchids in structure, with split asymmetric petals up to 2 cm in diameter, a two-lipped corolla and an “open” throat. The schizanthus owes its similarity to orchids to a wide variety of stripes and spots, which make the color almost as variegated as that of the legendary Tropicans.
The flowers of this summer plant never bloom singly, they are always collected in loose panicles of inflorescences at the tops of the shoots, due to which it seems that no greenery is visible under the flowers. After flowering, small bivalve boxes are tied, containing kidney-shaped, very small seeds that do not lose their germination for several years.
The color scheme of indoor schizanthus is in no way inferior to garden brothers. It includes white, yellow, pink, red, purple, lilac colors with all possible combinations of contrasting veins and multi-colored spots, which give the plant a similarity to orchids.
One of the main advantages that the indoor schizanthus receives due to its “one-year old” is the opportunity to observe its super-long flowering, which lasts literally from April to November. And at the same time, the flowering rate is several times stronger than that of plants growing in open soil. But the dignity of the “poor man’s orchid” is not limited to longer and more luxuriant flowering.
Schizanthus among the abundantly colored crops is also considered one of the most unpretentious. It is easy to grow, it does not require such strict control of conditions and vigilant care: the plant will be thrown away anyway, and there is no need to “play” with caring for it. In fact, all you need to take care of are cool conditions and good lighting.
Schizanthus can also be grown by beginners, although in this case it is better to start getting to know him with ready-made seedlings. But experienced florists will be happy to discover quite specific conditions for growing schizanthus directly from seeds on their own.
Lighting for schizanthus
In order to succeed in growing a “poor man’s orchid”, it must be provided with good lighting. It is not worth waiting for abundance in shading. This unique plant does not like even light partial shade, is not afraid of direct sunlight (but it is better to protect the plant from midday at the peak of flowering on the southern window).
Feels great either in a bright sunny or in a bright place with diffused lighting. Even in the open air, the schizanthus is necessarily placed in a well-lit location.
When choosing a role for a schizanthus in the interior, remember that this summer man is very friendly and just loves exhibiting in groups and entire collections. It will look great not in splendid isolation (although it will reveal its unique beauty), but in addition to other schizanthuses, indoor summer plants, classic plants: pelargonium, balsam, etc.
The most difficult thing in growing schizanthus is the correct choice of temperature. Despite its South American origin and annual status, the “poor man’s orchid” does not belong to the heat-loving beauties. This plant looks better (and the more abundant it blooms), the more it is possible to provide it with a cool content. The optimum air temperature for schizanthus is about 15 degrees, but slightly higher indicators will also be comfortable – about 18 degrees Celsius.
It is better to place Schisanthus in cool rooms, but if this is not possible, then it is possible to partially compensate for the air temperature by increasing the humidity. After flowering, schizanthus are simply thrown away, therefore, you will have to take care of the winter temperature of the content only in one case – when growing your own seedlings. In winter, seedlings are kept practically in the cold, at an air temperature of 5 to 10 degrees Celsius.
This plant loves open air, is not afraid of drafts and loves frequent airing. Takes out the work of air conditioners. Without exception, all indoor schizanthus can be taken out into the open air and even used as potted garden crops. They feel great on balconies and terraces, on window sills with a constantly open window.
Watering and air humidity
Like all abundantly flowering plants, the schizanthus loves stable soil moisture. Complete drying out of the substrate can turn into a stop of flowering, but schizanthus do not like waterlogging either. For them, the standard approach to watering is perfect – the next procedure is carried out when the top layer of the substrate dries up, thereby maintaining its uniform moisture.
There are no special rules for watering for this plant, it is enough not to pour water on the stems and leaves – and there will be no problems. If the schizanthus continues to bloom in mid-autumn, and even more so in winter, then, in accordance with changes in conditions, it is necessary to reduce the frequency and intensity of watering and more carefully control the degree of drying of the substrate between procedures. Winter seedlings are watered very carefully and minimally.
Schisanthus is great for pots with auto-irrigation and various “drip” auto-irrigation systems, which allow you to actually reduce care to the removal of wilting flowers.
Schizanthus are insensitive to air humidity, but too abundant spraying can lead to the appearance and spread of leaf rot. But if the plant fails to provide cool temperatures within the recommended range, then spraying will help the schizanthus to cope with the excessive heat.
Spraying is carried out only from a finely dispersed spray bottle, making sure that the leaves do not get wet. You can install any of the household humidifiers (for example, a tray with wet pebbles).
Top dressing for schizanthus
The plant develops actively and blooms very profusely. And if you want to admire the “poor man’s orchid” for more than six months, you will have to remember about the constant replenishment of nutrients actively absorbed from the soil. Top dressing during the entire flowering period (or rather, from the budding stage to the end of flowering) is carried out quite intensively, with a frequency of 1 time in 7-10 days.
The first feeding, at the budding stage, is best done with a frequency of 1 time in 2 weeks, only after the opening of the first flower, switch to the standard frequency.
For schizanthus, it is better to use not special fertilizers for beautifully flowering plants, but complex mineral fertilizers.
For this summer, it is very important to remove the wilting flowers in a timely manner, so that the beginning of the seed formation process does not interfere with the formation of new buds. If the flowering of the schizanthus ends, is scarce or because of misses in the care it was short, the plant can be pruned by a third of the height, stimulating a new wave of flowering. Partial pruning – shortening only individual non-flowering shoots – will maintain a constant flowering rate, replace stimulating pruning on the entire plant at once.
Schizanthus in room culture does not at all lose its ability to stand perfectly in cut and in bouquets.
Transplant and substrate
Schizanthus requires a fairly specific substrate. The optimum pH for this culture is 6,0 to 6,5. Standard neutral soil mixtures for schizanthus will not work, but classic universal substrates will be quite comfortable.
The main task is to provide the plant with the most fertile, loose soils with a high organic content and eliminating the risk of compaction. If you compose the soil mixture yourself, then mix leaf and woody soil in equal parts, add a little sand and take care of a loosening additive – perlite, agroperlite, expanded clay, etc.
In flower centers, moss is often added to the soil to achieve a more stable substrate moisture. Schizanthus will not refuse to add long-term fertilizers to the soil, which will make it possible to simplify as much as possible and abandon regular classical dressings.
A schizanthus transplant is only needed when growing seedlings on their own. In this case, the plant, as it grows, must be timely transferred to large pots (for a lush bush, it is better to do this not one at a time, but 2-3 plants in one container), because the complete filling of the earthen coma will lead to a stop in growth.
For schizanthus, rather large containers are used, with a diameter of 20 to 30 cm.When transplanting seedlings, the earthen lump is kept completely, trying to avoid even the slightest contact with the roots. A high drainage layer must be laid at the bottom of the tanks.
Do not rush to replant purchased schizanthus: the plant will still have to be thrown away, and there is no need to transfer the transshipment. If you want to replace the container with a more decorative one, then just use it as an external, additional “shell”.
Diseases and pests
Schisanthus are extremely sensitive to foliage getting wet, which leads to the appearance and rapid spread of rot. Dangerous for this indoor summer and another disease – gray mold, which also develops with waterlogging, but this time – the substrate. Many growers prefer the risk of losing beautifully flowering specimens from fungal diseases, preventive spraying, which is carried out at the stage of growing seedlings using any systemic fungicide.
Of the insect pests, whiteflies annoy the schizanthuses most of all, which must be fought as early as possible and with the obligatory use of insecticides.
Common growing problems:
- stretching shoots in poor lighting;
- poor bloom in shade;
- violation of the shape, thinning of the shoots, faded leaves and the absence of flowering with insufficient feeding.
Growing schizanthus from seeds
This annual, even in room culture, is propagated exclusively by seeds. They are not sown at typical times, but depending on when you want to see the first flowers on the plant. In order for the flowering of schizanthus to start in April, it is necessary to sow seeds during August and September, but for flowering, which begins only in summer, the seeds must be sown as ordinary annuals – in February or the first half of March.
For summer-autumn sowing, the plants are sown as ordinary seedlings – in shallow containers, slightly covering with soil. Germinate under a film, in the light and in warmth (about 18 degrees and not higher), and after the appearance of the second pair of leaves, the seedlings dive into small individual containers or large containers with a distance between the bushes from 10 to 15 cm.
The most difficult thing is to keep the plants until spring, because for a successful wintering, schizanthus need maximum coolness – about 5 degrees Celsius (not lower than 3 and not higher than 10 degrees), as well as the brightest lighting possible. With the arrival of spring and an increase in daylight hours (the approximate time is when most of the summer plants are sown for seedlings, in March), schizanthuses are re-transplanted into full-fledged containers for indoor plants with a diameter of 20 to 30 cm, placing 1-3 plants in one pot and begin to grow them like a common houseplant.
When sowing in February-March, schizanthus are grown in the same way as garden annuals, waiting for the release of the second pair of true leaves (the sowing rules are the same). But the plant is dived not into individual containers, but into permanent pots of 3 copies, they immediately begin to pinch the shoots and, if necessary, carry out a garter. Crops and seedlings are kept at a temperature of 15 to 18 degrees, comfortable for adult specimens.
When growing seedlings of this plant, please note that you need to try to save not only the strongest seedlings, but also the most ordinary-looking ones. Schizanthus has an amazing trait: usually the most lagging specimens bloom best – they form flowers with the brightest patterns and spots, outlandish and more variegated than on the strongest seedlings.