Gladiolus / Acidanthera murielae observations

Started by Leo, March 01, 2023, 10:18:20 AM

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I've tried over the years to grow Gladiolus murielae (syn. Acidanthera bicolor) in my very hot summer climate. Bulbs planted in spring in large pots typically melted when it got really hot, even with pots shaded from the sun. There are too many hungry critters here to plant in the ground.

Last spring I backslid again and ordered some. I was even more lax than usual, and didn't get them into a 5-gallon / 20 liter pot until early September, which still would be considered pretty hot by most of you. They did sprout, and continued to grow through the winter. They were undamaged by some nights we had that were a few degrees below freezing. Now they are flowering; plants and flowers have been unharmed by frost that severely damaged Crinum leaves.

In a cursory search I couldn't find much information about their actual habitat, just the countries in which they grow. Are these really summer growers? Are they a high-elevation species? February in Phoenix is a strange time for a summer-fall flowering species to be flowering. Maybe day length isn't a trigger for flowering? Of course, garden cultivars are many generations removed from the wild, and might have different schedules than wild plants.


As an aside I might have some Moraea speciosa seed for the BX soon. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Martin Bohnet

I always thought  they are from Ethiopian highlands similar to Coccinia abyssinica, but the only Inat-Listing looking somewhat wild is from a mountain in Malawi.  Unfortunately I didn't have any  luck with them, they always seem to dwindle away over two or three years. I do feel I have to lift them for my winters though.
Martin (pronouns: he/his/him)


As I quite like Acidanthera, I tried them here in Portugal with the same results as you had, @Leo. So reading your comments, I will try them as winter growers.
Then I looked it up in two books: Bulbs by Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix, Pan Series.
I attach the picture and the text but not sure if the text is readable.
The other book is Gladiolus in tropical Africa by Peter Goldblatt.
This book says that gladiolus murielae has an unusually large but scattered distribution from north east Africa through Ethiopia to Malawi and Mozambique. It says that this plant grows in mountains without giving the elevation. It also says that the exact location of the type specimen is not known.
Algarve, Portugal
350m elevation, frost free
Mediterranean Climate


I find that in the Azores they are a late summer/early fall bloomer. I have them in the ground and let them have a dry summer. Strangely, I bought the original bulbs in Germany at a supermarket.


In cool tropical San Francisco, they were distinctly summer growers, producing flowers in late summer (that melted in the fog). The bulbs were remarkable in size and the small divisions were remarkable in numbers. Removed from the garden after one season and passed on to someone on the other side of the hill who doesn't get the cold windy fog.


Steve Marak

Plants of the World (Kew) says they are native to Burundi, Chad, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania, and that "It is a tuberous geophyte and grows primarily in the seasonally dry tropical biome".

I grew them (NW Arkansas, US) long ago. They came back and flowered for several years, more reliably than the hybrid gladiolus sold everywhere do here, until an unusually cold winter - a fairly common story for me. Of course that was back when winters were significantly colder, so maybe I should try again.