How to Care for Peacock Orchids

Written by megan mattingly-arthur
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Peacock orchids, known botanically as Gladiolus callianthus or Acidanthera bicolor, aren't orchids at all; instead, they're tropical flowering plants closely related to gladiolus. Featuring long, spear-shaped leaves and highly fragrant white blossoms with deep maroon centres, peacock orchids make a beautiful and easy to care for addition to gardens and home landscapes. Peacock orchids can grow as tender perennials in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 though 11. Outside of these zones, peacock orchids can be cultivated as annuals.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Shovel
  • Peat moss
  • Potting soil
  • Perlite
  • Garden hose
  • Water-soluble fertiliser
  • Pruning shears

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  1. 1

    Plant your peacock orchids where they can receive six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day, preferably in the morning. Select a planting location that also offers loose, well-draining soil. Till equal parts peat moss, potting soil and perlite into the top 8 inches of soil to improve drainage, if necessary. Plant peacock orchid corms 6 to 8 inches deep; plant container-grown plants at the same level they were growing in their nursery container.

  2. 2

    Water peacock orchids once each week during the spring and summer months. Provide approximately 3/4 of an inch of supplemental irrigation each time you water. Note that peacock orchids may need more frequent irrigation in hot, dry climates.

  3. 3

    Fertilise peacock orchids every two weeks during the spring and summer. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertiliser, preferably one specially formulated for use with flowering plants. Consult the application instructions on the fertiliser packaging before fertilising your peacock orchids.

  4. 4

    Dig up the peacock orchid corms after the first fall frost if you live in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 and below. Cut off the dead foliage with a pair of sharpened and sterilised pruning shears. Place the corms in a cool, dry location to dry. Replant the corms in the spring, after the threat of frost has passed.

Tips and warnings

  • Mulch the surface of the soil around your peacock orchids to help the soil retain moisture. Use an organic mulching material such as peat moss, redwood bark pieces or pine straw.
  • Monitor your peacock orchids for insect pests such as aphids, thrips and spider mites. Rinse the affected foliage with a directed stream of water. Treat the plant with a garden insecticide if the infestation persists.

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