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common name: marsh Africaner
flowering season: spring
Flowers: light yellow and fragrant
Height: 18 inches
Light requirements: sun
Soil requirements: a good quality potting soil
Water requirments: allow to dry out somewhat between deep waterings
Growth habit: grows from a corm; spreads to form colonies
Propagate by collecting & sowing its seeds or dividing the corms
Ways to use it: we recommend growing it only in containers
We have a special fondness for fragrant plants, and this being fragrant, it is a favorite. However, we would like to stress that our plants of it are being offered for growing in containers rather than for growing in the ground outdoors. By growing in pots, it can be grown in a much greater part of the U.S. than is possible otherwise. And in mild climates such as in California, growing it in pots reduces the concerns of it spreading to become a weed.
A fragrant gladiolus! The spring flowers of this gladiolus will be open during the day but only become scented late in the afternoon, with the sweet fragrance continuing through the night. It is pollinated in its home of South Africa by a moth that is attracted by the scent. A nickname for Gladiolus tristis is the marsh Africaner, which hints at its liking wet ground. The leaves are grasslike - eighteen inches long and very thin. The flowers are a light milky yellow, infrequently brushed in tan, and about two inches wide.
Said to survive in the ground outdoors to +10°F, our preference is to grow clumps of this in pots that are stored over winter by the window of an unheated porch, garage or basement. Or, as we do, in a cool greenhouse where the nighttime temperature drops close to freezing. It is normal for its new leaves to sprout in fall and carry over winter, followed by an early spring blooming. As summer arrives the blooming ends and the leaves wither and disappear during the summer months, when its soil needs to be dry.
So when grown in a container, at the end of summer the potted plant will be dry and dormant. Starting in October, begin watering the pot's soil lightly, not enough to thoroughly soak the entire container but enough to let the plant know that water is available if needed. When new leaves first sprout, continue to water only lightly, although once the leaves grow more than a couple of inches tall, more frequent water can be offered. The potted plants we offer will have several plants per pot.
Our plants were purchased as a true species yet are possibly a hybrid, as they cross-pollinate easily.