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Tigers and peacocks


by Adam Pasco

Gardeners' World Magazine is often the first port of call for people trying to identify an unknown plant, and every summer I can guarantee receiving at least one photo of a particular Mexican bulb that has left someone baffled.


Tigridia pavoniaGardeners' World Magazine is often the first port of call for people trying to identify an unknown plant, and every summer I can guarantee receiving at least one photo of a particular Mexican bulb that has left someone baffled. Originating among the dry grasslands of Mexico and Guatemala comes Tigridia pavonia, a dwarfish plant grown from a bulb that boasts two common names - the Tiger Flower or Peacock Flower. Despite being fairly cheap to buy you'd expect it to be more widely known, but clearly it isn't.

As a bit of a bulb 'nut', I've grown many, many bulbous plants but never tigridia. So, when another photo of tigridia arrived last year I made a note to order and grow some myself. I'll admit that results haven't been that successful, possibly because I planted the bulbs in large pots using a peat-free compost that has remained too moist. Extra sand or grit should have been added to sharpen up the drainage, then the bulbs would have grown better I'm sure. Some have grown, producing tall flat leaves possibly 30cm long or even taller. Flowers were a long time coming, and when they did, one blink and you've missed them! Tigridia flowers open and die within a day or two - quite disappointing when you've waited several months for their moment of glory.

But they are stunning. Three bold outer petals unfurl with three smaller ones between, exposing the long central stigma and stamen, with flowers reaching about 10-15cm across. Colours are primary and vibrant, with stunning speckling near the centre. This must be where their common name of Peacock Flower has derived.

To be honest, if I was looking for a pot of summer bulbs to deliver real flower value then it wouldn't be a pot of tigridia. Far better performance comes from eucomis, agapanthus, tulbaghia and a host of others. Still, I've grown them now, and even have my own pictures to share with those readers who send me theirs. Could this be the start of a Gardeners' Picture Exchange?



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Talkback: Tigers and peacocks
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Gardeners' World Web User 21/09/2007 at 21:29

i SAW GARDENERS WORLD WITH MONTY DON THIS EVENING AND HE WAS TALKING ABOUT PLANTING GREEN MANURE. i WANT TO KNOW WHICH GREEN MANURE I PLANT FOR CABBAGES - MAYBE YOU CAN LET ME KNOW THANKS

Gardeners' World Web User 22/09/2007 at 11:17

My neighbour has a lovely red flower/bulb in a pot but am unable to find out if it is the same as the one shown on the website. Any ideas?

Gardeners' World Web User 22/09/2007 at 18:47

I too grew tigridia for the first time this year . My were a beautiful pink & red colour. They only lasted a day , but were well worth it

Gardeners' World Web User 22/09/2007 at 19:20

This tigridia isn't anything like the ones I tried some years ago, which grew 3' tall, spindly and scraggy, each plant bearing about 4 tiny 1"-wide flowers of a most undistinguished muddy purple. I decided the pics I'd judged them from must have been very close-up close-ups, and taken through a coloured filter, as in so many catalogues, and chucked them out in disgust. If I could remember where I got them, I'd go back and demand a refund!

Gardeners' World Web User 24/09/2007 at 20:34

Can anyone tell me if fuschia Paula Jane is hardy, in Scotland

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