Gladiolus carmineus

Quick Characteristics:

Flower Colors: pink
Climate: winter rain climate

Gladiolus carmineus is a narrow endemic of the southwestern Cape coast (winter rainfall) where it grows on rocky sandstone cliffs within the sight of the sea. Flowers appear in the fall (mid February to April) and are pale to deep pink. Each of the lower three tepals and sometimes the upper lateral tepals have a median whitish streak surrounded by a pale mauve halo. There are three to five reduced leaves on the flowering stem. Foliage leaves produced by plants that did not flower appear later and are long and trailing, 8 to 10 mm wide, glaucous with a lightly thickened midrib. They grow during the wet winter and spring, drying off in late spring.

Some PBS members report that they get better results from this bulb in pots if watering is started in late summer (August in California). Others report that it blooms reliably in dry ground even if given no supplemental water. You may need to experiment to see what works best in your climate. It is definitely easier to grow in coastal climates. It has naturalized in the coastal Northern California garden of Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner. They scatter seeds about after the pods split open. The first four photos were taken in this garden. The third shows the long narrow foliage leaves of a clump in February 2014. The fourth is a closer view of a leaf. Mary Sue was asked why these leaves look different from the ones in Nhu's photo below. She did a tour of her garden and found leaves of different widths, some curled, some upright, and some flat. So it may depend on how and where the plants are growing, as well as how old they are. Photo 5 was taken in September, 2005 by David Victor, which flowers in the UK during September, followed later by the foliage. Flower stems and foliage are grey-green. David's plants hold typically four or five flowers on a spike. The last photo is from the summer hemisphere and was taken by Bill Dijk.

Gladiolus carmineus, Bob RutemoellerGladiolus carmineus, Bob RutemoellerGladiolus carmineus foliage leaves, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus carmineus foliage leaf, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus carmineus, David VictorGladiolus carmineus, Bill Dijk

Photo 1 is of a slightly lighter-colored form grown by Michael Mace. Photos 2-3 were taken by Nhu Nguyen. Photo 3 shows the pendent habit of the leaves, which makes sense since it grows on cliffs.

Gladiolus carmineus, Michael MaceGladiolus carmineus, Nhu NguyenGladiolus carmineus, Nhu Nguyen

Photos taken in habitat near Hermanus, South Africa by Cameron McMaster.

Gladiolus carmineus, Hermanus, Cameron McMasterGladiolus carmineus, habitat Hermanus, Cameron McMaster

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