Tigridia pavonia (“leopard flower”) September 2020 POM
Now here’s an exotic-looking flower that is so easy to grow that I wonder why more people don’t grow it. Peacock flower (also called “Mexican shell flower” or “tiger flower”) known botanically as Tigridia pavonia, is planted in spring as little bulbs which flower off and on all summer long. Flowers come in a rainbow of tropical colors, always with a contrasting center of leopard spots (“leopard flower” seems like a better name to me than “tiger flower”, but I’m not in charge of those things ). Each flower lasts only a day, but is usually replaced by several more all summer long. The foliage is like a miniature version of gladiolus or freesia leaves, except puckered, with each leaf reaching only 24-36 inches in height (so they’re much easier to incorporate into your plantings than those tall gladiolus leaves). Remember the bulbs are sold and planted in spring, not autumn, so look for them in retail bulb displays in spring alongside dahlia tubers, gladiolus corms, etc., or in your favorite plant catalog’s spring offerings.
Tigridia is fully winter-hardy here in Chico if planted 6 inches deep, so they’ll return bigger and better if given full sun and regular water when they have leaves or flowers. They go dormant in winter so make sure you remember where you planted them, or you’ll accidentally spread them all over your garden by mistake, and that may be a good thing! I hope you’ll give them a try some time, and let me know how they do!