Acidanthera (Gladiolus murielae)


A group of tender bulbous perennials with elegant and graceful blooms. The flowers appear near the end of the season when many other plants have finished.

Family: Iridaceae
Botanical Name: Gladiolus murielae (formerly Acidanthera (ass-ih-DAN-ther-ah))
Common Names: Abyssinian gladiolus, fragrant gladiolus, gladiolus callianthus, peacock orchid.

Foliage: Long, narrow, sword-like green leaves. Deciduous (dies back after flowering).

Flowers: Clusters of fragrant, 2in wide, star-shaped flowers (similar to Gladiolus). They have white petals with a purple blotch at the base.

Flowering Period: Late summer (September).

Soil: Moist but well-drained soil (chalk, sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.

Conditions: Full sun. Plant in a south, east or west facing aspect, in a sheltered location.

Habit: Upright.

Type: Cormous perennial.

Origin: East Africa.

Hardiness: Tender - protect from frost.

Planting and Growing Acidanthera

These sun-loving plants require a sunny, south-facing site, and a well-drained soil. Plant corms 4in (10cm) deep in April. Spacing 9in (23cm) apart. They may take several years to reach full flowering size.

Drought-tolerant once established.

Taking Care of Acidanthera

Cut down the old foliage and lift corms at end of season before the first winter frosts. Dry off and store the corms in a warm and dry place, ready for planting again the following spring. In mild and coastal regions they will often survive left in the ground, so long as they protected by a thick dry winter mulch.

If grown in pots, Acidanthera can be brought inside to overwinter in a cool but frost-free environment. Allow the soil to dry out, then in the spring remove the old soil and repot.

Pests and Diseases

Watch out for damage by thrips, aphids and slugs. Can be affected by grey moulds and gladiolus corm rot, particularly in wet conditions.

Propagating Acidanthera

In warm areas, established clumps can be divided in late spring, as the new growth begins. In colder regions the best corms can be lifted and stored over winter. Alternatively, you can simply buy new corms the following spring.

Popular Varieties of Acidanthera

Although reclassified as Gladiolus murielae, they are often still sold under the name Acidanthera.

Acidanthera bicolor murielae is the main variety grown in the UK.