How to Grow Tiger Flowers

Showy and Easy to Care for Plants with Edible Corms

Two red tiger flowers (Tigridia pavonia) in a garden setting

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In This Article

There are over 50 species of flowers in the bulbous and showy Tigridia genus. By far the most well-known and widely-grown is Tigridia pavonia, more commonly known as the tiger flower.

If you're looking for an easy-to-grow flower that will add a showy and impressive splash of bright color to your garden through the summer months, then this could be a perfect choice.

The large flowers come in vivid pinks, reds, yellows, and oranges. The centre of the petals feature contrasting speckles of color, that almost resemble the markings found on tigers.

The sparse foliage of the tiger flower is often mistaken for that of the Gladioli, and they actually have similar care requirements. Both are from the bulb and corm growing Iris (Iridaceae) family.

The thin, upright stems features bladed leaves and several flowers usually form at the top of the stalk.

Although the beautiful blooms are short-lived, only flourishing for one day, the plant has several stems. One bulb can produce as many as eight flowers. They flower in succession, so you can appreciate this exotic species for at least a few weeks.

Grown in groups, tiger flowers will add interest in flower borders and beds, alongside lower-growing perennials, and they look fantastic grown in containers on sunny patios.

Native to Mexico, the cooked corms of these plants were a small but tasty food source that the Aztec people enjoyed.

Raw corms can cause burning in the mouth, so they're usually roasted. The flavor is said to resemble both sweet potato and chestnut.

Botanical Name Tigridia Pavonia
Common Name Tiger flower, Mexican shellflower, peacock flower
Plant Type Bulb, corm
Mature Size Up to 24 in. tall
Sun Exposure Full sun, partial sun
Soil Type Well-drained
Soil pH Neutral, alkaline
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color Pink, red, yellow, white
Hardiness Zones 8 - 10, USA
Native Area Mexico
Yellow tiger flower (Tigridia pavonia) close up
Chiffanna / Getty Images
A pink example of the tiger flower (Tigridia pavonia)
Jarmila Horalkova / Getty Images

Plant Care

Tiger flowers, despite their exotic appearance, are relatively easy to grow. They appreciate plenty of sun and well-drained soils and are pretty tolerant of dry conditions.

Light

These plants are sun lovers, and you should position them so they get plenty of it. Although they can tolerate some shade in hot regions, they may not bloom as prolifically.

Soil

The ideal soil type for your tiger flowers will be a particularly well-drained one. A sandy or loamy variety is perfect. They don't do well in standing water.

Water

While your tiger flowers are establishing, you'll want to keep the soil consistently moist. Once mature, they'll still appreciate regular watering, but they're relatively drought-tolerant plants and can cope with drier conditions.

Temperature and Humidity

If you want to enjoy your tiger flowers for many seasons to come, they're best grown in warmer regions. They don't cope with freezing temperatures and can handle intense heat.

If you're expecting frosts, they're better grown in containers. This means you can move them to a warmer, sheltered location over the winter.

Fertilizer

A diluted liquid fertilizer can be applied on the run-up to your tiger flowers bloom time to encourage a resplendent display.


Propagating Tiger Flowers

Even if you don't want more tiger flowers from your existing plants, it's a good idea to divide them every few years.

The corms produce offsets that mean they end up forming in large clumps. By dividing these in the fall, it'll help to prevent too much spread and promote healthy growth and blooming.

How to Grow Tiger Flowers From Seed

Tiger flowers are grown from the fleshy underground stems of the plant, which are called corms, rather than from seeds. They usually flower in their second year after planting.

When planting these out, make sure you dig them at least a few inches deep and keep them around five inches apart.

Because the corms don't cope with cold conditions, plant them out in late spring, and keep the soil moist until they're well-established.