Tigridia in the wet tropics

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@jimmckenney.com
Mon, 13 Jul 2009 07:11:51 PDT
Dennis wrote: "  My experience with Mexican Tigridias is that any
significant source of moisture in the pots during the "dry" season will
almost assuredly rot the bulbs."

Indeed, traditional advice in every book I can think of is to store Tigidia
pavonia bulbs dry. 

However, I've found that the usual commercial stocks of Tigridia pavonia
sometimes dry out too much when stored dry and exposed to the low humidity
in my house during the winter. 

Several years ago I experimented with storing the freshly dug Tigridia
pavonia bulbs, still plump and moist from the soil, still with a few living
roots attached, in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator for the winter.
The bulbs were packed in zip lock bags and left in the crisper from the time
they were dug until I got around to planting them the following year. 

When the bulbs were removed from the crisper and zip lock bags they were
found to be plump and ready to go. There was no sign of rot. 

I have no idea of the provenance of the commercial stocks, but for those of
you who are growing Tigridia pavonia from commercial sources,  it's worth a

Also, Tigridia pavonia sometimes survives the winter outside here - so these
commercial stocks must have considerable cold tolerance, too. 

Also, how many of you realize that Tigridia pavonia must have been one of
the very early plant introductions from Mexico: it was known in Europe in
the sixteenth century - a crude image of it appears in the Elizabethan
edition of Gerard's Herbal; that does not prove that it was grown in
England, but I'll bet it was grown in Spain well before that. 

And speaking of Spain, I wonder if Spanish is the source of the genus name
Tigridia and the vernacular English name “tiger flower”. The flowers are not
striped as tigers are, and tigers do not occur in Meso- or  South America.
I’ve read that in many areas of its range, the jaguar is called El Tigre:
I’ll bet that’s the inspiration for the name Tigridia because jaguars are

I abandoned the name tiger flower years ago and have since been calling them
jaguar flowers after El Tigre. 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA zone
7, where the pleasant weather and low humidity has everyone here asking "is
this summer?" 
My Virtual Maryland Garden http://www.jimmckenney.com/
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