acidanthera planting

jardinistaMarch 30, 2006

Any suggestions on where and when to plant acidanthera bulbs? a friend planted some last year in her yard in sterling and said they were fabulous all summer. Full sun better? or in a pot? will they overwinter if i put them in a bed? BTW i'm in Natick. Thanks.

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I was curious about just what this plant might be, so I googled it and found this info on NPR.

Clearly, you need this plant. The trick is growing it. In regions where winter temperatures are major league, plant acidantheras in April, then lift in fall and overwinter in paper bags. In more temperate regions, they should be hardy barring a catastrophic winter (read: 10° F).

Here is a link that might be useful: Fragrant gladiolus at NPR

    Bookmark   March 30, 2006 at 2:01PM
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Hi Jardinista -

I've done acidanthera in both a border and in pots and in both places they have done beautifully. Since these are summer flowering bulbs and you want to have them in the summer (not in the fall -- I hate waiting that long....) I usually start these in a pot in the house right about now. You don't need a large pot unless this will be their permanent home. They need soil, water and sunshine. If you have a basement window, that would be ideal. If you have a place where they will get sun, but will be shielded from a frost, that's good too. By potting them up now and then replanting into the garden by end May, or relocating the pot outdoors, you will have gained the entire month of April and May (8-9 weeks growth time). So, this plant will actually be a good size when you plant it out. Instead of a nub the size of a chestnut! LOL You will still have to wait quite a while for the bloom, but at least you have green leaves to look at instead of bare ground. The plant has foilage similar to iris leaves at first. Of course the flowers come last, but they provide quite a show and are fragrant. One day I came out of my house to find a stranger photographing this flower in my border which is on a street! He was lying down on the ground with his camera right up to the flower! Totally immersed (sp?) in what he was doing. LOL To each their own I suppose. These flowers are white with a deep purple (almost brown center). Really unusual and really lovely.

However, they are not hardy. They will: (1) have to be dug up in the fall and brought into the house to go dormant for the winter, or (2) consider them an annual and leave them in the ground to croak in the garden over winter and repeat the entire process the following year or (3) if in a pot, just bring the pot in before frost and put it in a dark place, don't water and you will have these bulbs ready to go for next March already in a pot. Just add water!

The really good thing about bulbs is that they have their own food storage system right inside including the unbloomed flower. You are almost guaranteed to get a blossom from these puppies. They are the mechanism that will get a novice gardener hooked! Beware.... Your bulb expenditures will soar.... But you'll be surrounded by beauty!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2006 at 3:50PM
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Thanks debra boston--good advice on the acidanthera. today is a lovely day for getting my hands a little dirty and motivating me to what's coming--yay-warm days and nights.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2006 at 10:45AM
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Couldn't resist telling you that I got hooked on acidanthera when my nephews had a boy scout plant sale and I grudgingly bought some bulbs. Unbelievable. Give them all the sun and rich soil you can. The fragrance is just wonderful - its like jasmine wafting by if they are in the right place. That first year I could smell them from 15 feet away. Its not as cloying as some of the big oriental lilies - its a light fragrance, but very present. I did them in enormous pots on my deck last year surrounded by dahlias and verbena bonariensis and it was so nice on summer nights to step out there. The fragrance starts in the evening when the air is still.
I found them at Costco the past 2 years for 100 for $8. Plant them in clumps of at least 5, preferably more. You definitely don't want one at a time - it would be funny looking.Try to plant them upright or they will lean like a gladiolus does. The clump planting helps that.

Lets see if I can remember how to post photos

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 2, 2006 at 8:18AM
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These photos weren't great and they weren't of acidanthera specifically, but you can see how the flower and foliage mixes with the dahlias. The sword-like foliage in the 2nd photos is acidanthera - 25 in the center of the pot and fertilized heavily with Bulbtone.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2006 at 8:26AM
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Hi Everyone,
Here it is 6 years after I have been working with acidanthera and I have finally hit on a nice way to plant them with minimal work and maximum show. I put five or six bulbs in a smallish pot (no bigger than 6" dia. and sunk the entire pot in the garden and a couple in show pots with other plants. In the fall, (Sept./Oct.) I will be able to lift the entire pot, cut off the foliage and put them pot and all in brown paper bags to store for the winter inside the basement. In March or April, take them out of the bags and water. They don't even have to be in a sunny window for the first month. The moisture will get them going again and you should have a couple babies in there too. Here is this year's pot (doesn't it look great with canna, callas and some impatiens.) Hope I can post the photos.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2013 at 10:11AM
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