The Dierama is an elegant if slightly tender-looking flowering perennial which is grown from corms. The corms look very similar to the corms of the Gladiolus, together with which, the flowers - whilst pendulous - also have a similarity to the Gladiolus.
They are NOT Gladiolus, though belong to the same family of Iridaceae.
The Dieramas are normally available are quite hardy, though may suffer from hard frosts in the first few years of life. One established into clumps, they become more hardy - as with many other plants.
The Dierama is an evergreen clump-forming perennial, which sends up its long arching flower wands in mid summer. It always attracts attention - swaying gently in the breeze. Unusual for most of the subjects in this bulb section, the Dierama is evergreen and has no dormancy period to speak of, so need not (should not) be lifted in the autumn months for storage.
The long arching flower stems - sometimes to 1 metre in height - will benefit from the protection in a sheltered site, and preferably in full sun or at least a very light place.
They normally grow in the wild in areas of moist grassland or even slight boggy areas. In cultivation within gardens, a moist soil is preferable, though they are happy in dry areas if well watered during spring and summer. The pendant flower are best seen when planted in isolation - rather than in the midst of a herbaceous border.
There is no need to left them in the autumn, and to do so would cause the plants considerable stress - being evergreens and therefore better transplanted if needed in the early growing period of Spring.
Dierama can be grown from seed - sown in containers and kept in cool place such as cold frame. It will probably take 2-3 years to get a suitable flowering corm. The seedlings should be kept growing in normal garden conditions at all times, and not be given artificial heat.
Divisions of the mature clumps are possible - but in early spring - just before growth gets underway. Re-growth of the divisions is spasmodic for first year or so, but will improve once established as a clump.
No known problems with this plant - not even slugs - so a welcome addition to any garden that can accommodate it.
The best two cultivars for garden use would be either.....
By David Hughes - email@example.com