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Peacock Orchid

Peacock orchid is an unusual flower with strappy green leaves and white flowers with deep maroon centers. The flowers have a light, clean fragrance that reminds me of mild soap. Deer are not attracted to them, and I suspect it's the fragrance they don't like. It is not an orchid at all, though it does look like one. The name Gladiolus callianthus tells us it is actually a member of the gladiolus family. I'm not a big glad fan, but these are wonderful!One group of peacock orchids is planted along my hydrangea walk.A closer look at the orchid-like flower

I planted these bulbs for the first time this year and am waiting to see how successful they will be, but so far I am pleased. They need a long, hot growing season. I planted mine in April, and they just started blooming this week. They should bloom till mid fall, here in my zone 7b climate. The leaves are about thirty inches tall, and I have not needed to stake them. They have stood tall, even after torrential rains.

Peacock orchids need loose, well drained soil. They also like sun to partial shade and may do better with protection from the hottest afternoon sun. These plants do need consistent moisture, and I was diligent to keep them watered through our June drought. Fortunately, we have had plenty of rain in July, and the peacock orchids have grown well.Each bulb produces six to eight frangrant blooms.

Peacock orchids will grow in the ground and naturalize in zones 7-10. In zones with shorter growing seasons, start these indoors on a sunny windowsill, then transplant them outside when the weather warms up. Peacock orchids also do well in pots. In cooler climates gardeners should treat them as annuals or else dig the corms in fall. I plan to leave mine in the ground, covered with a good layer of mulch. I am eager to see if they will come back next year and grow again in my garden. A lot of plants do well the first year, but it's the second and third years that tell the true story!

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Reader Comments (18)

Mine did brilliantly well the first year and followed beautifully in the summer, but last year only the leaves appeared after the dormant period and there were no flowers, so I'll be interested to see what happens during the summer at the end of this year. They are indeed a beautiful bloom.

July 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBernieh

They are gorgeous flowers Debs! I've tried several times, every spring year in year out with very little success, more likely because the bulbs I've been getting tend look dried out already. I need to find better sources offering fresher bulbs.

July 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

Wonderful placement! I have grown these before, but was not happen with either spot I had chosen for them. I will think next time about putting them in front of something tall and round.

July 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWife, Mother, Gardener

I think from the above comments that this plant is more difficult than would first appear. I grew them the first time in England in a pot and they were beautiful, I haven't really had any success since so it was niice to see yours. Your final line about the second and third years says it all really; unless it is something so beautiful you can treat it like an annual. Christina

July 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

What beauties those blooms are. I love the burgundy centers. They look so delicate.

July 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLona

You have reminded me, I havn't grown them for a few years now, must buy some bulbs this autumn because they are so beautiful. We have to bring ours in for the winter, I think I must have forgotten one year and they have now vanished.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPauline Mulligan

I love their drooping flower heads, very charming. They remind me somewhat of the Fortnight Lilies I see planted here (Dietes bicolor). I used to grow those, but their leaves would get ratty looking with age, and take hours to prune out the dead foliage. Do your peacock orchids stay fairly tidy?

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCurbstone Valley Farm

What a lovely flower. I tried it once but didn't site it correctly (put it in too heavy of soil). They definitely look like trying again!

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersweetbay

I'm not a fan of the ordinary Gladioli either but that plant is gorgeous.

July 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBridget

Lovely to see this again. Used to no it as Acidanthera! My expereince is that even in the warmest garden I have ever gardened in in north devon i lost it eventually if left in. Interested that it is deer proof. Must tell lesley!

July 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Webber

It really does look like a miltonia orchid and it's lovely looking. I've never heard of it before never mind reading that it is a relative of the gladioli family. ............ that really surprised me.

July 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRosie leavesnbloom

What a beautiful Orchid. Thanks for sharing it with us.

July 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris

I hadn't heard of these before. Very pretty flower.

July 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJean

I wonder if we have those here. I definitely can provide a long, hot growing season and maybe the shift from dry to rainy season will be as good as it was for your peacock orchids.

July 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBom

These Glads are so much more refined than the ostentatious spires of old. The Orchid nomencalture suits them well but not sure about the Peacock bit - they are more Egret but then that name is taken! Long hot growing season? No chance here but thanks for sharing and hope they make it through for further summers to come.

July 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaura @ PatioPatch

They are pretty, so I will give them a try. I am in zone 6 but the florists glads have always come back strong so these may too. I like the spiky leaves.

July 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

I planted these bulbs earlier this year one set straight into a border and another set in pots. Both have produced lovely lance-shaped leaves but no flowers yet. I first saw these plants at Tatton Park RHS show in 2009 and my sister bought me a couple of specimens but they failed to come back after the winter of 2009/10, so I think here in this part of the UK I need to either keep them in pots protected over winter ot treat them as annuals renewing the bulbs every spring.

Anyway, your plants look beautiful; here's hoping I get some flowers soon.

July 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSusan@Holly Grove

Update - mine have just bloomed...

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSusan@HollyGrove
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