Peacock Orchid

peacock orchid

Peacock Orchid – Acidanthera

I introduce you the Peacock Orchid or Gladiolus of Abyssinia, or Acidanthera, a bulbous orchid native to Africa whose height is of about three and a half feet (110 centimeters) that, I know, you will love if you love orchids.

They are usually utilized mainly as a cut flower due to the long duration of their flowers, to form clumps and borders in the garden or even in large containers of at least 12 inches (30 cm) wide and 16 inches (40 cm) deep.

peacock orchid

The peacock orchid ( Acidanthera ) produces beautiful and fragrant white flowers from late summer to autumn, and all with relatively minimal care.

peacock orchid

Peacock Orchid Care

If we want to summarize peacock orchid care ( Acidanthera ) in just one paragraph we can do it as follows. The peacock orchid must be cultivated under full sunlight exposure, in fertile soil, well drained, enriched with organic matter and irrigated regularly. The Acidanthera does not tolerate clay soils or waterlogging, because the corms rot rapidly under these conditions. It does not resist well colder temperatures.

The peacock orchid must be cultivated under full sunlight exposure, in fertile soil, well drained, enriched with organic matter and irrigated regularly

Please consider the following topics to follow for a proper peacock orchid care:


The bulbs have to be buried in an area where, once they germinate, the leaves are exposed to the sunlight.

The best location for cultivating Acidanthera will depend on the geographical area where we live. If we are in a place of warm weather it will be better to cultivate it in semi-shade or partial shade. However, if we live in one geographical area that enjoys cooler weather it will be necessary to plant the peacock orchid in full exposition to sunlight. 

Avoid locations with air drafts, as with all orchids.

Substrate For The Acidanthera

The soil must have good drainage. You can mix the soil in your garden with perlite in equal parts to improve it, or even bury blocks and fill your holes with black peat mixed with 50% perlite.

The soil should contain sand to drain very well and organic matter (humus). The planting of the bulbs is done in the spring and its removal to a dry and fresh place will take place at the end of the autumn.

As for the soil, it is preferable that it is sandy, as we said, so that it drains well, and that it is also rich in organic matter. It is advisable to spread manure or compost before planting the bulbs. The bulbs should be planted at a depth of two and a half inches to four inches (7-10 cm).

General doctrine recommends to plant the bulbs of Acidanthera with a spacing of 8 inches (20 cm). You can do it with a spacing of 4 inches (ten centimeters) as well if you prefer to have more density in the flowerbed. Less than four inches (ten centimeters) is not recommended because of the space required in the soil to retrieve nutrients.

Watering of The Peacock Orchid

Water frequently, but avoiding waterlogging. The frequency of irrigation will vary depending on the climate, but it will usually be irrigated every 2 or 3 days. Every two days in summer and every four days in winter.

The irrigation will be regular,, as I said, but with small quantities of water in each application. For example a glass of water each week; and increading slightly when the buds appear.

Fertilizer And Nutrition

Fertilize the land with humus before planting and with mineral fertilizer for bulbous plants every twenty days during the flowering season.

We will explain the phenology of the peacock orchid ( Acidanthera ) below: here it is important to mention that they bloom in late summer and early fall.


Not the most resistant as other orchids, certainly not as resistant as the Cambria orchid. The peacock orchid ( Acidanthera ) is sensitive to cold temperatures, so if in winter the temperatures drop below 28° F (-2ºC) we advise you to remove the bulbs and protect them in a dry and dark place, indoors.


They bloom in late summer and early fall.

Light Exposure

We referred above to the exposure to sunlight when we discussed the preferred location for the peacock orchid ( Acidanthera ) . It needs a semi-shade exposure if the climate is warm (for example, Florida, or Mediterranean climate for our European readers) and full sunlight if it is wetter and cooler.

Peacock Orchid Diseases

They can be attacked by aphids and woodlice and, if the humidity is excessive, by fungal diseases.

Nothing different than the symptoms, conditions and treatments defined thoroughly for orchid diseases in this article here linked.


The reproduction of the Acidanthera is done through bulbs and corms that are formed each year at the base of the corm of each plant. The corm is the subterranean thickening of the stem that serves to retain water.

It is multiplied, as we were explaining above, by the separation of the small corms that form next to the mother corm, at the time of harvest (after the vegetative period). When the plants begin to yellow, collect the corms, and cut off the leaves. Wash them and let them dry in the shade, in a dry and airy place. Store in a cool, dry place and refrigerated. Protect the corms from excessive dehydration.


When And How Are The Peacock Orchid Bulbs Planted?

To get a wonderful flowerbed of peacock orchid, the first thing to do is, of course, get the bulbs. As you may not find them in nurseries (for example, I do not have any availability in my nursery) it is best to buy them online in online stores.

These bulbs of the Acidanthera are planted in spring and when the season ends, in autumn, and the leaves begin to yellow, it is necessary to dig them up and store them in a dry and fresh place. Irrigation should be regular but without too much water. It is also necessary to let the soil dry between waterings and as we have said before, the land must have good drainage. Flooding and clay soils produce root rot.

Once you have them at home, in late winter or early spring you should dig a ditch or small holes (one per bulb) whose depth must be twice the height of the bulb; that is, if it measures two inches in height (five centimeters), the hole must be not more than four inches (about ten centimeters) deep.

You can plant several peacock orchid flowers together or leaving a distance of four inches (ten centimeters) between them. It is important that you know that the closer the bulbs are planted together, the denser the flowerbed of Acidanthera will look.

bulbs peacock orchid
peacock orchid care


When looking for tall bulbous plants to form flowerbeds, it is not always easy to find the species that we like the most, especially if we want plants that are not usually seen every day. 

They are bulbous plants of fine linear leaves and light green color. The attractive perfumed flowers are large, star-shaped and white with purple center. They bloom in late summer and early fall.

The acidanthera is a herbaceous , bulbous plant, close relative of the palm-of-santa-rita ( Gladiolus hortulanus ) . Its flowers are delicate and pendent, white in color with a purplish brown spot in the center, which occasionally may appear orange. They exude a delicious scent, especially in the afternoon. Its bulbs are of the corm type , and the leaves are long, linear of green color and opaque texture. It is possible to make them bloom at different times of the year, just keeping your bulbs chilled until the desired time. If they let them grow naturally they tend to bloom in the spring, summer and fall.

This beautiful gladiolus known by the scientific name of Gladiolus murielae or Gladiolus callianthus  is native to East Africa. It stands out for its big starry flowers of white color and with the center in purple. It is a bulbous plant that reaches a height of about one meter. It can be grown outdoors in temperate, Mediterranean, tropical and subtropical zones.

In the garden , they can be availed in the formation of masses and borders. The mix with other bulbous ones of similar size, or in stairs, also offers a pleasant sight. They can be planted all together or in succession for a longer flowering. They are also excellent in pots and gardeners. They are bulbous rustic, of simple cultivation. They can be planted for cut flowers as well, making beautiful and fragrant arrangements and bouquets.

Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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