Picking the right person to spend the rest of your life with is a big decision, but picking the perfect flowers to celebrate an engagement is easy- lisianthus! Sometimes known as tulip gentian, prairie gentian or bluebell, the less-common, but uncommonly beautiful lisianthus is the perfect bloom to send a bride-to-be or couple who has just announced their engagement. Graceful stems, delicate leaves and large, luscious flowers make this native wildflower at home in an elegant vase and are the perfect plant for celebrating this important transition in a person’s life.
The purple, pink or white petals of this funnel-shaped flower open up in a swirl from soft, green, sepals that nod slightly, like the heads of a poppy, but remain open for a week or more. They measure two to three inches across when fully open and often have smaller secondary blooms along the slightly succulent stem. The leaves are bluish green in color and delicate, making these stems lovely on their own without the need for added greenery, but look fantastic mixed with tree fern and dainty waxflower or paired with another American wildflower, goldenrod.
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The Latin name for this plant, Eustoma russellianum, somes from the Greek words for “beautiful” and “mouth,” reminding the newly betrothed to speak kindly to each other throughout the years. Though the stems appear thin and delicate, they will last as cut flowers in a vase for two weeks or more, as opposed to lilies or roses, and will remind the couple of the lasting commitment needed to make a marriage work. Native only to the New World, these plants have not been given a specific meaning in the Language of Flowers, which has its traditions rooted in history dating back to the Ottoman Empire and gaining popular usage in Victorian England. This allows you to send the message to the recipient of these bountiful blooms that “it is what you make it,” much like a successful marriage.
Lisianthus are part of the native flora of North America and are found growing in prairies in the warmer, southern parts of the country. There are several different species that may be found growing wild, some of which can be orange and yellow, though these are not typically available as a cut flower. Lisianthus make up one of three genera of wildflowers in the Gentian family and are a wonderful way to welcome a new daughter-in-law or son-in-law into yours.