Eye On Life Magazine

Lifestyle * Literary

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BRILLIANT BEAUTY IF ONLY FOR A DAY

Suppose you were only beautiful for one fleeting day, would it be worth it? What if your beauty was spectacular, but hardly anyone knew your name? That’s the position, of the Tigridias, for few gardeners seem to know their name, and fewer still, among flower lovers, have ever seen it, much less grown it. Yet, it has marvelously brilliant blooms.

This lack of popularity is hard to understand. It can scarcely be because the individual Tigridia flowers last for only a day; Morning-glories and Day-lilies have the same fleeting habit, and yet they are among our most prized garden flowers. It certainly is not because of any trouble in growing it — anyone who has succeeded with Gladiolus will find Tigridias just as easy to grow.


Easily Grown From Seed Or Corms


Variously called Flame Flower, Mexican Day-lily, Shell Flower, Aztec Sacred Tiger Flower, Peacock Tiger Flower, and native to our continent. Tigridias may be grown from seed or form corms. However, if you wish results the first season, start with corms. These can be purchased from most seed and bulb houses or form some nurseries that make a specialty of them.


Soil requirements are simple for Tigridias will grow in any moderately rich garden loam, provided it has good drainage. It is better to select a dry soil that you can water rather than a place that is too wet.
Plant food in the form of well decomposed manure should be worked thoroughly into the soil. I have found that peat moss is very helpful on dry soils. A complete fertilizer spread about the plants after they come up, or a watering of liquid manure once in a while, will insure large brilliantly colored blooms.

Tigridias do well where a soil acidity tests shows a pH5. With me, they thrive in the hot part of the garden — better than Gladiolus — but they must have plenty of water at all times.


Planting Tigridias


If your corms come with the last year’s roots attached, do not break them off, but plant roots and all. Also, do not break off the small cormlets on the side of the parent corm. Plant as you would Gladiolus, three to four inches deep.


For effective displays plant Tigridias in groups in the perennial or annual border, using plenty of white flowers about them — Shasta Daisies and white Phlox or light-colored Chinese Delphiniums make a good background in the perennial border. In the annual border such plants as Snapdragons, Zinnias, or Stocks will set off the vivid colors of the Tigridias.


There is not a great range in colors in the Tigridias, but within this range is grouped a most vivid assortment of shadings of yellow, orange, and red, as well as white. These colors merge into each other in the most pleasing combinations and have the added attraction of dark dots in the throat of the flower. Often these dots are overlaid with other colors, giving the flower its resemblance to the markings of the tiger. Some flowers will be without dots — a wonderful rose-pink or pure yellow or apricot. There is nothing else like them in the flower kingdom.


Tigridias As Cut Flowers


In spite of the fact that the flower lasts only one day Tigridias make very decorative cut flowers and may be open somewhat longer by dipping the ends of the stems in boiling water as soon as cut. When gathering the flowers, leave at least two leaves on the stalk to help ripen the corn. Often it is best to cut in the late evening, when the bud is showing color, and the flower will open back up in the morning.
The main flowering season runs through July, August, and into September, if the weather is not too cold in your region.


The flowers are three-petaled, and occasionally there will be a four-petaled one. In my plantings, there always seem to be a few four-petaled flowers which are larger than the three-petaled ones.  Despite their lack of longevity, they are well worth the glory of beauty for one day.