Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Moment: Gladiolus Callianthus

By Patientgardener @patientgardener

Plant of the Moment: Gladiolus callianthusI am completely captivated at the moment by Gladiolus callianthus.  Unlike any other gladiolus these plants have an understated elegance about them. The flower stems gracefully droop so the flower heads hang delicately approximately 75cms above the border. Whilst the leaves are strappy like other gladiolus they are narrower and less rigid so there is less chance of them snapping or being blown over in strong winds.

Plant of the Moment: Gladiolus callianthus

An unexpected bonus of this plant is this scent which is stronger in the evenings.  I am rubbish at describing scent and have caused much amusement to my son this evening with exaggerated sniffing of the flower heads in an attempt to come up with a description for you.  I’m afraid my description will be of little use.  It reminds a little of talc which my mother used to use but not as harsh, there is a real floral note but I would say more of roses than lavender.

Plant of the Moment: Gladiolus callianthus

But what really attracts me to this plant is the colouring of the flowers. I particularly like the burgundy centres and I think next year I am going to plant some of these by my  Actaea (formerly Cimicifuga) simplex Atropurpurea.  I think the flowers will pick up on the dark mauve foliage and white flowers.  Gladiolus  callianthus coming from South Africa, is not hardy, and therefore needs lifting and storing over the winter.  They, like dahlias, are Ok until they have been hit with the first frost when the foliage will dies back.  The plants grow some quite small corms and therefore are easy to store over the winter.  The advantage of lifting them each year is that the following year you can change the positioning of the plants to see what other effects you can get.  I start my corms off in pots in Spring which seems to give them a bit of a boost and also helps me protect the new shoots from any slug damage.

I should say that gladiolus callinathus can also be sold under the name acidanthera which would explain some of my confusion when researching this plant.

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