Schizanthus: Poor Man’s Orchid, Butterfly Flower

Height 30-45cm (12-18in)

Planting distance 30cm (1ft)

Flowers early summer to early autumn

Fertile moisture retentive soil

Sheltered sunny site

Half-hardy annual

This Chilean annual has orchidlike blooms in shades of pink, red and purple blotched with yellow. Each has a pale throat veined with a darker colour. The flowers appear between early summer and early autumn and are given a per-fect setting by the exquisite pale green, almost fern-like foliage. They are good for cutting.

Schizanthus pinnatus and its varieties are usually grown as indoor pot plants, but several dwarf varieties have been developed for growing outdoors as bedding plants in a warm sheltered spot.

Popular varieties

The following seed selections are readily available. ‘Butterfly Mixture’ grows to 45cm (18in) high and bears dainty flowers in pink, carmine, purple, crimson and white. ‘Disco’ has neat compact plants 30cm (1ft) high covered with a profusion of flowers in mixed colours. ‘Dwarf Bouquet Mixed’ has 30-38cm (12-15in) high plants smothered in red, pink, amber and salmon blooms.


Sow the seeds under glass in early spring, just covering them with compost. Keep at a temperature of 16°C (61°F) until they germinate. Prick out into boxes and harden off before planting out in late spring 30cm (1ft) apart.

Poor man’s orchid grows best in fertile moisture retentive soil in a sunny sheltered site.

Pests and diseases

Aphids may infest young plants.

22. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Annuals, Biennials, Bulbous Plants, Featured Articles | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Schizanthus: Poor Man’s Orchid, Butterfly Flower


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