How to Grow Tiger Flower — Tigridia

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Tigridia is an easy-to-grow summer blooming perennial bulb. The showy flowers have six petal-like tepals that are white or a vivid solid color—orange, pink, red, yellow. The blooms make a somewhat triangular outline.

Tigridia has several common names including tiger flower, peacock flower, and Mexican shell flower. The Latin name tigris refers to the centers of the blooms which are prominently spotted. That is a reference to the Central American tiger known as the jaguar. Tigridia is native to Mexico and Guatemala.

Tigridia flowers last just one day, but flowers appear on the plant in succession over several weeks. Flowers are borne on stems above fans of lance- to sword-shaped leaves.

Tigridia pavonia flower
Tigridia pavonia flower

Get to know Tigridia

  • Plant type: Perennial bulb that is often grown as an annual
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 8 to 10
  • Hardiness: Hardy; protect in cold-winter regions
  • Height and width: 18 to 24 inches (45-61cm) tall
  • Flowers: Showy 3 to 6 inch (7.6-15cm) wide flowers have three large segments forming a triangle; they are joined by smaller segments to form a center cut; larger segments are usually white or a vivid solid color—orange, pink, red, yellow; smaller segments are usually blotched.
  • Bloom time: Summer; each flower lasts one day but several follow in succession for several weeks.
  • Uses: Plant in beds and borders and containers
  • Common name: Tiger flower, Mexican shell flower
  • Botanical name: Tigridia pavonia
  • Family name: Iridaceae

Where to plant Tigridia

  • Grow Tigriia in full; in hot summer regions grow in partial shade.
  • Plant Tigridia in humus-rich, well-drained soil. Dig the soil deeply and work aged compost and a balanced organic fertilizer into the soil before planting.
  • Tigridia can also be grown in pots that can be protected in cold winter regions.
Tigridia flower
Tigridia Pavonia flower, in the background is. white Love-in-a-Mist, Nigella damascena

When to plant Tigridia

  • Plant Tigridia in spring after the weather warms and night temperatures are greater than 55°F (12.8°C).
  • Grow Tigridia much as you would gladiolus.
  • Plant bulbs every two weeks to extend the bloom season.

Planting and spacing Tigridia

  • Set bulbs 2 to 4 inches (5-10cm) deep. Deep planting eliminates the need for staking.
  • Space bulbs 4 to 8 inches (10-20cm) apart.

How to water and feed Tigridia

  • Give Tigridia regular water during the growth and bloom period.
  • During active growth feed Tigridia every 2 weeks with a mild solution of liquid fertilizer or apply a slow-release fertilizer once when growth emerges from the soil.

Tigridia care

  • Some plants may need staking if blooms grow heavy.
  • Bulbs can be left in the ground through winter where they are hardy, Zones 8 to 10.
  • In cold winter climates, dig and store bulbs after the foliage turns yellow. Allow the bulbs to dry and then store at 40° to 50°F (4.4°-10°C) through the winter.

Tigridia pests and diseases

  • Spider mites may attack Tigridia causing yellowish or whitish streaks on the foliage.

Tigridia propagation

  • Divide Tigridia every 3 or 4 years as clumps become crowded.
  • Break bulb offsets apart when dividing then replant in spring.
  • Tigridia is easily grown from seed and may bloom the first year.

Tigridia varieties to grow

  • Tigridia pavonia grows 18 to 24 inches (45-61cm) tall bearing iris-like flowers 4 to 6 inches (10-15cm) wide; blooms colors include red, pink, orange, yellow, and white with contrasting spotted centers. There are several cultivars including ‘Alba Grandiflora’, ‘Carnariensis’, and ‘Aurea.’

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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