Winterizing Tiger Flowers: What To Do With Tigridia Bulbs In Winter

Winterizing Tiger Flowers: What To Do With Tigridia Bulbs In Winter

Tigridia,or Mexican shellflower, is a summer flowering bulb that packs a wallop in thegarden. Although each bulb produces only one flower per day, their brilliantcolors and shape make for amazing garden eye candy. As its common namesuggests, Tigridia is native to Mexico and, thus, only hardy to zone 8, whichmeans Tigridia bulbs need special winter care.

What to Do with Tigridia Bulbs in Winter?

In many ways, Tigridia is quite resilient. It can tolerateheat and humidity, full or partial sun, and a gamut of soil pH conditions. Thebulbs cannot, however, survive in wet soil or freezing temperatures.

Tigridia, also referred to as tiger flower, peacock flowerand jockey’s cap lily, is native to warmer latitudes like Mexico, Guatemala,San Salvador and Honduras. This means the bulbs need to be protected from coldtemperatures. Once the ground has frozen, so has the bulb and then it’s adios Tigridia.

So, how do you go about winterizing tiger flowers? Tigerflowers don’t do well in winter, which means fall is the time to dig up tigerflower bulbs.

Tigridia Winter Care

Once the blooms have faded, allow the green of the plant todie back naturally. This gives much needed energy back into the bulb so it canreward you with its kaleidoscope colors next season. Once the leaves have faded,but prior to the first frost, dig slowly and gently lift the tiger flower bulbswith a trowel; you don’t want to dig into the bulb and damage it.

Once the bulb has been dug out, cut the foliage off to about3 inches (8 cm). Shake off any excess soil and remove dirt from the roots.Allow the bulbs to dry out in a shady area of the garage before packing them upfor the winter. To do this, place the bulbs on newspaper for several weeks orhang them in a mesh bag.

Place the dried bulbs in a cardboard box with air holes. Thebulbs should be nestled in peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, or dry sand. Makesure that each bulb is surrounded by an inch of the dry medium.

Store the tiger flower bulbs in the winter in a cool dryarea, such as the garage or unheated basement, where temps are at least 50 F.(10 C.) until the spring.

How to Dig Up & Preserve Bulbs for Spring Planting

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Spring bulbs are planted in the fall and summer bulbs in the spring -- a swirl of seasons that is difficult to keep straight. It is easier if you think of bulbs as either hardy or tender: the hardy ones survive a winter in the ground the tender ones cannot. Gardeners must dig up tender, summer-flowering bulbs in the autumn and usher them inside for the winter.

Peacock Flower, Tiger Flower, Jockey's Cap Lily, Mexican Shell Flower (Tigridia Pavonia)

Here’s a summer bulb flower which is so sophisticated and sexy yet so easy to grow, it’s silly!

Commonly called Mexican Shell Flower or Tiger Flower, Tigridia is a treasure of the mid-late summer garden. Its large flared flowers are vividly colored and come in two-tone combinations pairing white, pink, red, orchid, yellow or orange with contrasting center spots. The flowers are 3 to 6 in. wide (7-15 cm), with three large one-color petals flanking three small spotted petals that emerge from a similarly-speckled center cup.

  • Each blossom rides atop a slender stem, 18-24 in. tall (45-60 cm). The foliage is similar to Sword-Lily (Gladiolus), with upright blade-shaped leaves and produces several flowers per stalk.
  • Performs best in full sun and well-drained soils. Tolerates part shade In hot climate area. Drought tolerant, deer and rabbit resistant.
  • Similarly to daylilies, the delicate flowers of Tigridia bloom for only a single day. But, as each plant produces an abundance of stems, the flowering period, in reality, lasts several weeks.
  • Tigridia excels in beds, borders and large containers where it brings exoticism and distinction. Plant them among low-growing flowering plants or groundcovers as their foliage is sparse and their stems thin and delicate. An added bonus: cut the first flowers back (six inches down the stem) and they should bloom again!
  • Plant the corms about 3 in. deep (7 cm) and 5 in. apart (12 cm) and water well over the season. Then wait to see the look on the faces of your friends and neighbors. Few are likely to guess how easy they were to grow!
  • Plant in spring in groups of minimum 3 bulbs for a striking display!
  • Tigridia grows from bulbs that produce offsets, eventually forming large clumps. They should be divided every three years or so to maintain a relatively compact clump.

Step 2: Cut Down Plants

Cut the plants down, leaving six inches of stem. This makes the digging process easier as you maneuver between plants. If you have a whole bed of plants to dig, like this canna row, cutting plants down is quickest if you use a sharp knife. An old kitchen knife works fine. Toss all leaves and stems into the compost pile. For monster tropicals like canna or elephant ear, cut thick stems into small pieces to speed decomposition. For amazing compost, layer this green compost component (tropical stems and leaves) with dry, mowed (chopped) autumn leaves.

Dig Rhizomes With Digging Fork

Grab a digging fork or shovel, and insert it into soil just outside the plant roots. Try not to dig too close to the central stem, or you risk cutting into the rhizome or tuber.

Photo by: Julie Martens Forney

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