Gladiolus murielae white flower
Gladiolus murielae

Formerly placed in the genus Acidanthera, Gladiolus murielae is native to eastern Africa (notably Abyssinia)  and was first described by German botanist Christian Hochstetter in 1844. While hardy through most of Europe, it will not survive outdoors where frost can penetrate through the soil, and damage the corms. 

Commonly known as the Abyssinian gladiolus or fragrant gladiolus, it produces mid-green, sword-shaped leaves that can be up to 3 ft in height. The fragrant, star-shaped flowers are 2 inches wide and 6-8 blooms can emerge from a single stem. Each flower is white with a purple centre, appearing in August and September.

Gladiolus murielae will flower in almost any type of soil, provided that it is not prone to water-logging. Corms are usually purchased alongside pre-packed bulbs in the spring, but you should wait until April or May before planting out. Plant 4-5 inches deep in groups of about a dozen in a south-facing position. In colder regions consider planting amongst shrubs or perennials or close to a south-facing wall.

In colder, northern European climates, wait until after the plants have flowered before lifting the corms, but do do before the first hard frosts. Lift the plants whole and dry them off thoroughly in a warm room or greenhouse. Remove the cormlets and discard any dead wood, stems or scales. Store the corms and corm-lets in a dry, warm position  until the following spring.

You can grow Gladiolus murielae in pots containing a good quality compost such as John Innes 'No.1' at a rate of approximately 5 or 6 corms in a 6 inch pot.

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