Gladiolus callianthus

Family: Iridaceae
Popular names: Abyssinian gladiolus and Acidanthera

Origin: Abessinie/Ethiopië

Flower colour: white

Flowering period: July – October

Average plant height: 60 – 90 cm

Planting depth to base of bulb:10 cm

Spacing between bulbs: 15 cm

Type of bulb: corm

Light requirements: sunny spot is necessary (P.M. sun)

Landscape uses: borders, containers.


Acidanthera likes sunny borders. This gladiolus-like plant has 24 inches (60 cm) long sword-shaped leaves and produces about 10 blooms in late summer or autumn. The bloom has a star-like shape and at the centre there is a prominent purple blotch. They also have a pleasing fragrance. The base of the six flower petals is purple, and forms the dark ‘heart’. Acidanthera originates from East African mountains, between 4000 – 8000 ft.(1200 – 2500 meters) high, mainly found in grassy areas and amongst slippery rocks.


The advantage of acidanthera is that it blooms after the other summer-flowering bulbs. Acidanthera requires a well-drained soil and a warm spot in the garden. When the corms are stored in daylight (in the winter) they turn green (which by the way has no affect on proper growth). If you store them in the dark, they remain white.

Many perennial plants are especially useful to combine with the Acidanthera in the border. Particularly worth mentioning are the blue cultivars from among the Aster Dumosus Hybrids, Aster novii-belgii and Aster amellus. Other suitable plants include late-flowering blue Aconitum species and cultivars, Salvia nemorosa, Acenthus mollis, and the blue Tradescantia cultivars.

Acidantheras are sometimes planted in pots. In this application, they can be combined with blue lobelias, Scaevola aemula and supplemented with the grey-leaved Helichrysum petiolare. Place the pot in a very sheltered location.