The flowers of this plant are a delight to those who admire extreme grace, dainty markings, and fantastic forms. Many flowers have been compared by writers to butterflies, but it is only this one that has received the name of Butterfly flower. The Butterfly weed (Asclepias) and the Butterfly bush (Buddleia) are so-called not because they resemble butterflies, but because they attract them.
The flowers of the Schizanthus pinnatus are white, pink, crimson, yellow, purple, lavender, and rose, and are delicately spotted and blotched like the smaller butterflies. The blooms on a well-grown plant are produced in such profusion as to completely cover it. For the garden, the dwarfed varieties should be chosen as the tall sorts grow rather slender and crooked. The leaves are attractive, being deeply cut and fern-like.
There are really four species found in catalogs: S. retusus, S. pinnatus, S. grahami, and S. wiselonensis (a hybrid between the last two species). They resemble each other rather closely. Much depends upon the strain purchased. The Dawkins and the Garaway hybrids are considered to be the largest flowered sorts.
The Schizanthus is attractively displayed in small vases in which the flowers appear like small orchids. In the garden, unless the low-growing sorts are used, the plants will require staking, because the stems are weak and become crooked when not trained.
How to grow Schizanthus from Seed
Sow the seeds out of doors in late Spring when the soil is warm. The plants do not transplant as readily as some annuals, and it is, therefore, wisest to move each seedling with a ball of earth. Let the plants stand a foot or 18 inches apart and give them a little shade. The young plants are better for the support of a stake early in their growth; they need not be strong nor over 2 feet tall.
The plants bloom in two months from seed. Pinching them early in their growth will make them bushier and less straggling, a tendency to the latter form being their fault. Spraying with water daily in Summer will keep them healthy.
SCHIZANTHUS Butterfly flower (Poor-mans-orchid)(Fringe flower) From the Greek cut flower, referring to the fact that the petals are cut and lobed