A small genus of brightly coloured, exotic looking plants. Easy to grow and a very useful perennial for the end of summer.

Family: Iridaceae (Iris Family)
Botanical Name: Tigridia
Common Names: Mexican shell flower, tiger-flower, peacock-flower, Aztec lily.

Foliage: Narrow lance-shaped leaves, pleated in fan-like tufts. Deciduous (dies back after flowering).

Flowers: Vibrant iris-like flowers with three large petals in bright shades of yellow, red, purple or white. Within these are three smaller petals. The smaller petals and throat are variously spotted and patterned.

Flowering Period: July to August.

Soil: Well-drained fertile soil (sand or loam). Any pH.

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

Habit: Upright.

Type: Bulbous perennial.

Origin: Central and South America

Hardiness: Half-hardy in the UK.

Planting and Growing Tigridia

Plant the corms/bulbs 4-5in deep in March-April. Site in a sunny sheltered situation, in a rich well-drained loam.

The flowers only last for a day but they are borne in succession.

The colours are so strong and striking they are best grown in a small group on their own.

Taking Care of Tigridia

Water well and apply a liquid fertilizer regularly while growing.

To ensure good blooms next season, cut off the old flower spikes as soon as they have faded and allow the leaves to die down naturally.

Tigridia is only hardy down to about -2°C, therefore, in cold regions dig up the bulbs after flowering and overwinter packed in dry sand, in a frost-free place. Replant in late spring.

Alternatively, Tigridia can be grown in containers, plunge pots or bulb baskets and moved into a cool, dry but frost-free area over winter.

Pests and Diseases

Slugs may attack the young leaves and flowers. Can be affected by a virus.

Propagating Tigridia

Separate offsets when the corms are lifted in autumn. Alternatively, sow seed under glass, at 15°C, in spring.

Popular Varieties of Tigridia

The main species available in the UK is T. pavonia, which is usually sold as a mixture. Named cultivars are rare.

Tigridia pavonia (Mexico, Guatemala) has spectacularly vibrant flowers in bright shades of yellow, red, purple and white. Height 16in (40cm) or more, spread to 6in (15cm). Available at You Garden.