Growing the Blood Red Gladiolus cruentus

flower of Gladiolus cruentus blood red gladiolus kzn endemic

The flower of the Blood Red Gladiolus Gladiolus cruentus

Blood Red Gladiolus Gladiolus cruentus

The species name Cruentus means blood red.

Gladiolus cruentus a jewel of a flower is a South African endemic found growing only in KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa between Pietermaritzburg, Pinetown and Inanda, with isolated occurrences at Umbululu, Little Noodsberg and Kranskop.

flower of gladiolus cruentis the blood flower gladiolus busy opening

Flower of gladiolus cruentis the Blood Red Gladiolus busy opening

The rather rare Gladiolus cruentus are found growing only on seasonally wet Natal Group Sandstone cliffs preferably  south facing where the plants hang out of cracks in the sheer cliffs often near waterfalls, or anywhere where water drips continuously during the growth season. My plants originate from a single corm collected in the kloof gorge area about thirty years ago.

Gladiolus cruentus is both easy to grow and to propagate
Gladiolus cruentus grows well and multiplies quickly partly shaded in a well-drained growing medium, although they like to be well watered not letting them dry out to give the best results, I have also had good success growing them as roof top plants in large containers in mixed plantings with Cyrtanthus sanguineous where the only water that they get is from the rain.

Propagation I have done by means of removing the numerous small cormlets that they produce and planting them in community pots until they are large enough to be planted out individually.

Although this plant is hardly known and is probably not grown by many other plant enthusiasts here in South Africa it has been grown in the United Kingdom and in Europe since the 1800´s

The flower of the Blood Red Gladiolus Gladiolus cruentus

Flower of gladiolus cruentis the Blood Red Gladiolus

I feed frequently as I do with most of my other plants using a very dilute amount of a variety of plant feeds such as

EasyGro™Flower and Fruit
is a 3:1:6(46) water soluble fertilizer, high in concentrations of Potassium ideally suitable for crops during the flowering and fruiting stages.

SEAGRO™ Bio-Fertiliser
Bionutrient with Enhanced Amino Acids. A fish emulsion rich in micro & macro elements and 17 amino acids. Seagro is used as organic fertilizer in agricultural practices for maintenance of crop health. Seagro has a remarkable impact on crop quality as well as yield through the activation of key metabolic processes. Seagro serves not only as a nutrition and stress reliever, but also plays an important role in the vitality of the microbial population in the soil.

Nitrosol Original Biological Fertiliser
is the original formulation developed by Dr. Peter Kauzal, a veterinary surgeon, from ruminant blood and bone. Nitrosol Original has a balanced NPK of 11.5.7 plus trace elements and minerals and recommended for use in all horticultural crops and home garden.

Fulvic acid.
Fulvic acid is group of chemicals formed when plants and animals break down. It is found in the humus (organic matter) part of soil and peat, and is also found in streams and lakes.
Fulvic acid benefits of increases root respiration and formation,enhance plant growth and yield. Humic fulvic acid can enhances pH buffering capacity, enhances photosynthesis and respiration, increases cationic exchange.
Brings about an improvement in the transport of nutrients, making them available in the areas of need. Increases the synthesis of proteins and nucleic acids, which will facilitate the action of enzymes formed with some amino acids and micro-nutrients.

I also feed and mist regularly with a week solution of both black tea and rooibos tea which appears to be very beneficial to both my ferns as well as my orchid plants.

Pest control
Gladiolus cruentus is seldom troubled by insect pests. However to prevent attack by thrips and scale insects I use  Efekto Granules Plus active ingredient Imidacloprid (chloro-nicotinyl) at the begining of the growing season which is taken up by the roots and evenly distributed to the entire plant which is highly effective against most sucking insects and provides long term control between 4 – 8 weeks. Efekto Granules Plus is a Neonicotinoid a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine compared to organophosphate and carbamate insecticides, neonicotinoids are less toxic to birds and mammals, and therefore very safe to use within the home environment.

Article written by Michael Hickman



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This page was  created on  11.02.23
This page was last updated on 11.02.23