Virtues: Fragrant white flowers in late summer to autumn.
Common name: Abyssinian gladiolus, peacock orchid
Botanical name: Acidanthera muriale, A. bicolor var. muriale, Gladiolus callianthus
Flower: Four-inch-wide, six-petaled pure white flowers with a dark red ring around their center. Flower stems are two to three feet tall. Flowering lasts for up to a month in late summer and autumn. Fragrant.
Foliage: Upright swordlike leaves, reminiscent of true gladiolus, two to three feet tall.
Habit: Clumping plant that grows from a corm (a storage organ similar to a bulb), 24 to 36 inches tall and half as wide.
Season: Late summer to autumn.
Cultivation: Grow in well-drained rich soil in full sun, planting corms five inches deep and four inches apart. Fertilize weekly for best flowering. Allow foliage to die down naturally after bloom. Requires a long season of warmth before flowering. In USDA Zone 6 and colder, plant the corms in large pots. This way they can be brought inside before the first frost so if they have not yet flowered, they will bloom indoors. They can be overwintered indoors by bringing the whole pot into a cool, dry, dark location and leaving it unwatered. USDA Zones 7–10.
Master the art and science of growing flower bulbs with the advice of Judy Glattstein in Bulbs for Garden Habitats. This book focuses on bulbs' needs so that you can site them properly and enjoy them for years.
Learn about potted bulbs and much more in Tovah Martin's The Unexpected Houseplant.