Tiger Iris – Tigridia

The Mexican Tiger Flower or the Tiger Iris is its more popular name and for late summer and early autumn flowering it should be more frequently planted, especially in the south-west where the bulbs may be left in the ground through the winter. Elsewhere they need some protection, and if the soil is on the heavy side the bulbs should be lifted each October and stored in boxes of peat in a frost-proof room.

The plants love full sun and only such a position should be chosen for them. Planting is better delayed until early April or even later if the spring is cold, for the soil should first have the chance of becoming warm. The bulbs should be planted 4 in. deep on to sand and if the pockets are filled in with a sand and peat mixture there will be no need for any further preparation of the soil, provided it is not of an unduly heavy nature. The important point is to plant in a position where the soil and the plants can obtain the maximum amount of sunshine. Where this can be provided the tigridias will be found of perfectly easy culture and will continue to produce their multi-coloured blooms throughout late summer.

Tiger Iris - Tigridia

The flowers only last individually for about two days, but each bud is really a magazine full, ‘firing a long burst’, of dazzlingly brilliant blooms, each roughly the shape of a three-bladed ship’s propeller. As they will not open except in sun, and do not travel when cut, Tigridias are only seen in gardens where the owner has taken a gamble on the name. They cannot appear at a flower show or on the market, so few know of their beauty. It seems to take bees a long while to learn their way about the blooms, with the stigma towering like a mast in the centre of the strange and gaudy ‘propeller’, but seed is usually set towards the end of the season, and with spring-sowing and one season to grow in, makes flowering-size bulbs the following year. Seed from the named varieties listed will be mixed, and will include pleasant variations, but as mixed Tigridias are cheaper than the cheapest Tulips, few people bother with them.

This is an excellent plant for a cool greenhouse. The bulbs should be planted in March and treated in much the same way as freesias. Plant three or four bulbs to a 48-size pot and stand either in a cold-house or frame. Give no water whatsoever until the foliage appears, then give only just enough to bring on the plant. More water may be given as the blooms begin to form and an occasional application of diluted liquid manure will prove beneficial.


  • Tigridia alba. Like all varieties, this is an inexpensive bulb, bearing bloom of purest white with a carmine-spotted centre.
  • T. canariensis. This is a vigorous variety, the blooms being of rich golden yellow, spotted in the centre.
  • T. carminea. An unusual colour, the blooms being rich orange, flushed yellow.
  • T. lutea. A favourite species, bearing large rich yellow flowers, devoid of all markings.
  • T. Rose Giant. Of strong constitution and bears a lovely rich rose-pink bloom. A hybrid.
  • T. speciosa. A most striking species, the bright red blooms having a golden centre which is spotted scarlet.
  • T. Wbeelari. The blooms of vivid scarlet, densely spotted with crimson.

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