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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 that is found only in a tiny part of South Africa, where it hangs from cliffs near waterfalls.  It is almost never seen for sale.  This is one of my favorite bulbs, and i'm glad to finally be offering it.

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 may need a little support to keep it upright, because it thinks it's on a cliff!  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 that the plant relies on have been drying up, and it's close to becoming extinct.

Gladiolus cruentus

It's been easy to grow for me in my cool 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.  Unlike most Gladiolus, it doesn't require lots of sun, just bright light.  It grows well in a pot in well-draining soil that's kept evenly moist.  When the bulb goes dormant in autumn, keep the soil relatively dry until spring.  Adult bulbs make some baby bulbs each year, which you may separate while dormant.

 

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Tips on planting the bulbs

 

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