Home

Strange Wonderful Things

Rare and exotic plants & seeds

Turquoise Puya

Gladiolus cruentus 

This is a rare look at the awesome Gladiolus cruentus.  My camera has a hard time capturing the intensity of the scarlet blooms, but they are easily the brightest flower in my garden!  This is an endangered species found only in a tiny part of South Africa, where it hangs from cliffs near waterfalls.  It is rarely seen for sale.

Gladiolus cruentus

Gladiolus cruentus grows during spring & summer, and then flowers in autumn, just before going dormant for winter.  In the wild, it tends to grow sideways from vertical cliffs, not upright like typical Gladiolus.  In cultivation, it can grow vertically, but sometimes it needs a little support to keep it from leaning.  The 2 foot tall flower stem appears from August to October here in San Francisco.  Each stem has about 7 to 10 blooms, which are quite large - about 3 inches across.  Their orangey-red petals are splashed with white to attract pollinators.  Unfortunately the waterfalls it relies on have been drying up, and it's close to becoming extinct.

It's been easy to grow for me in my cooler climate.  I believe it can handle summer heat provided that nights are cool (below 65F / 18C).  It is untested in hotter climates with warm nights.  It doesn't require lots of sun, just bright light.  It does fine in a pot in well-draining soil that's kept evenly moist.  When the bulb goes dormant in autumn, keep the soil relatively dry.  Adult bulbs make some baby bulbs each year, which you may separate.

Gladiolus cruentus

An old botanical print

 

Check availability

 

Tips on planting the bulbs

 

Home

Strange Wonderful Things

Rare and exotic plants

Turquoise Puya

Entire site Copyright 2003-2019 by Strange Wonderful Things, except as noted