July 12, 2020

A Reason to be Glad

Gladiolus callianthus - acidanthera

Janine Pineo Photo | Gladiolus callianthus – acidanthera

If fragrance is what you’re after, then acidanthera should be on your list. Also known as the peacock orchid, acidanthera is an African plant and a member of the iris family. Its habit is much like that of an iris, 2 to 3 feet tall with stiff, upright leaves. When it blossoms, six-petaled white stars with mahogany centers gently nod off sturdy stems and emit a fragrance that can be overpowering. Acidanthera blossoms for a long time, with new flowers opening about when the old ones fade. Some may recommend starting the bulbs inside a month early to get a longer growing season, and succession planting keep the plants flowering for some weeks later in the summer, right up to the first frost. However, if you plant them directly in spring after the frost danger has passed, you will still get blossoms in August. Like gladiola, acidanthera isn’t winter hardy in Maine, which means buying new bulbs every year or digging and storing the old ones in a root cellar or an unheated cellar.