garden life
Lovely  lilies
Kiran Narain

Gloriosa (Family Liliaceae) or glory lily is a highly ornamental, tuberous rooted climber which climbs up with the help of its tendrils at the ends of its slender leaves. It bears 3-4 flowers in warmer climates between June and September.

Gloriosa rothschildiana, originally grown in Africa, has light yellow flowers edged with vermillion. It goes up to a height of four feet. Gloriosa superba is the commonly found variety in the Terai forests of India up to an altitude of 2000m. It has orange and red flowers, which are curiously contorted and attract visitors to the Doon valley and Rajaji National Park in Uttarakhand and eastern parts of Himachal Pradesh. The roots contain a virulent poison and are sometimes used in indigenous medicines and are reportedly grown on a commercial scale in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu for medicinal purposes. It grows up to six to eight feet tall. Standard compost of peat and loam in equal parts with enough sand to keep the soil open is suitable for growing gloriosa. It is best grown near a support like wall, pillars or even in pots with a framework made of cane. Plant and repot in February, repotting only if the pot becomes too crowded. Water freely during growth and even syringe the plants on very hot and dry days for best results. Allow it to dry off naturally after flowering and keep dry till the end of January. Pots may be laid on their sides. In February, these can be propagated by offsets that develop besides the large tuber.`A0

As houseplants, gloriosas need at least four hours of sunlight a day. However, it does best in full sun or very light shade and soil enriched with well-rotted farmyard manure. While planting, lay the tubers on the side 8-12 inches apart and cover with 4-5 inches of soil. Light support, where there is no natural support, is recommended for keeping the plants tidy and enjoying the beauty of their flowers.