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Easy elegance in the garden: Acidanthera, the peacock orchid

elegant peacock orchid
elegant peacock orchid

Fragrant blooms that appear during the dog days of summer are always a pleasant occurrence for the gardener. Such is the appearance of Acidanthera, the peacock orchid. These elegant blooms appear in Zone 7 from mid July through mid August and supply a light, cheery element to the established garden.

Reasonably Priced

I first planted this specimen from inexpensive dollar store bulbs as filler for the back of the bed. Unaware of the impending beauty, I planted to accompany a Brugmansia which claims more than its share of my flowerbed. The blooms are now sometimes partially hidden.

Upon mid summer bloom, I was delightfully surprised at the showing exhibited by this fascinating flower. Purple throated, white flowers appeared in abundance. Upon closer examination, I found the blooms to be quite fragrant. Fragrance as well as elegant beauty has made this specimen one of my favorite garden flowers.

True Identity

Though commonly called the peacock orchid, this elegant specimen is not an orchid. Sometimes referred as the sword lily, (as with many other flowers) it is not a lily either, but a member of the Gladiolus genus and the Iris family , Gladiolus Callianthus 'Murielae'.

While it resembles the traditional Gladiolus only in its sword-like foliage; bloom time and care are quite similar. Occasional watering and organic feeding encourage more blooms. A full sun location results in more abundant flowering.

Bulbs multiply, necessitating division every three to five years. If the area becomes crowded with new bulblets, blooms will decrease. Division provides more plantings for other areas of the garden or to share with friends and family.

Where to Grow

The peacock orchid is a tender bulb, meaning that in more Northern Zones it should be planted in containers or lifted from outdoor beds to bring inside during the winter. Those in Southern Zones may leave this elegant beauty in the ground all year.

Use this plant to add elegance and fragrance to your outdoor displays. You will be rewarded with a low-maintenance and remarkable, flowering beauty!

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