The Q&A Archives: Peacock Orchids

Question: Last spring I purchased a bag of bulbs called Peacock Orchids, can't remember if I bought them from K-Mart or Fleet Farm. The flowers where similar but smaller than a day lily, white petals, dark purple throat inside, and a lovely perfume. They blossomed in late summer with the gladiolas and day liles.

I dug them up with the gladiola bulbs a few weeks ago, and stored them in my garage for the winter. The bulb was surrounded by small corms, twice the size of a popcorn seed. Was I supposed to dig these up, or leave them? What is its botanical name? How do I propagate the corms? I really love these flowers. Can I put corms in the refrigerator for a couple of months, and force them? What should I do? I feel I've been blessed with these new baby bulbs, but how do I raise them?

Answer: Peacock orchids (Acidanthera) are similar to gladiolas in that they need to be dug each fall in cooler regions. (If left in the ground they will freeze to death.) After frost or about six weeks after they bloom, lift them, remove the stems and cure the corms in a dry place for several weeks. When dry, pack the corms in peat moss or mesh bags or paper bags and store cool, at about 40 degrees. The smaller bulbs will eventually grow to blooming size, so it is up to you whether you want to nurture them along or not. They would be lifted and stored then replanted annually until they reach blooming size.

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