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Gloriosa Lily - Commercial Gloriosa Lily growing information

Gloriosa Lily, Plant Intertrade NZ
Plant and Floral Intertrade Pte Ltd.- Singapore

There has been a lot of interest in the Gloriosa Lily, also known as the flame lily or climbing lily. At least that’s what the buyers continue to tell us. Virtually all of the gloriosa lily flowers sold in the U.S. are imported in as this bulb crop is not well understood or readily available.

The gloriosa lily is native to both Asia and Africa. The plant family is Colchicacae, while the plant species available are gloriosa superba, carsonii, simplex, and verschuurii. The gloriosa superba is the species commercially used, as the most common selections have been named Gloriosa Rothschildiana (Red) and Gloriosa Lutea (Yellow).

Propagation: The glorisa lily is propagateded via tubers with two daughter tubers being produced from each plant. The tuber size can increase significantly which is directly proportional to the quantity of side stems on the plant as well as flower number.


Growth Habit: Cirrhous leaves (tendrils on the apex of each leaf) act to support the plant during growth. Each tuber has only one growing point from which fleshy roots and a single shoot develops. Shoot development is terminal with lateral shoots developing off the main stem. Therefore up to five flowering stems can be produced from one tuber. Flower buds are produced in successive leaf axils from 30-40cm (12-15 Inches) above the ground and laterals arise from the leaf axils immediately below lowest flower bud. Each bloom is borne on a short stem up to 20cm (8 inches) in length with 5-15 flowers on each stem.
As the flowers open the petals reflex and colouration develops, but over mature petals come forward again. Flowers can be sold as single (6-8 inches) or top prices are paid for 3-5 blooms from lateral stem ( 15 inches +).
As the plant develops the original mother tuber collapses and the two daughter tubers form at the base of the stem. Tuber harvest is normally 8-10 weeks after flowers and care must be taken to avoid damage to growing point.

Cultural Requirements:
Temperature: Temperature affects three phases of Gloriosa production: the growing of the plant, the storage of tubers, and the sprouting of tubers prior to planting..
It is strongly recommended that prior to planting the tubers should be pre-sprouted to accelerate shoot emergence. If the tuber is already showing signs of swelling and obvious bud development there is no requirement for pre-sprouting, but for those that are totally dormant pre-sprouting is recommended so that even growth and flowering can be achieved. It is recommended that sprouting tubers at (86 F) with high humidity using damp peat or sawdust to achieve humidity is an ideal environment.
It is generally found that there is a 6-8 week rest period following harvest before sprouting will occur naturally, but the longer the storage period the shorter time to sprouting is required regardless of temperature. Storage of the tuber can be undertaken in temperatures as low as 46°F, but it is recommended that the tubers are held at temperatures of 62-64 °F with relatively high humidity. To prevent drying out, it may be required to store tubers in a media such as sand or sawdust. At 62°F storage life of a tuber is up to eight months.

Light Requirements: Gloriosa is a day length neutral plant but has a high light requirement. Supplemental lighting may be required in northern areas of low light. Shade may be necessary to prevent foliage and flower scorching during the heat of the summer.
Spacing and Training: It is generally recommended that the tubers be planted horizontal with the growing tip 5-7cm (2-3 inches) below the surface.


Soil and Growing Conditions: The soil and air temperatures affect the plant growth and it is normally recommended that soil temperatures of 68°F result in rapid and strong growth with night time temperatures of 64°F. Temperatures of between 59-86° F are acceptable with the range extending to 46- 93°F but these are at the extreme limits of the crop and poor growth will occur at either end of the range.
Gloriosa requires a relatively high humidity to be grown successfully and at very low humidity flower bud development and flower bud abortion can occur. In the case of a very low humidity, overhead misting or sprinklers is recommended to prevent leaf burn and damage.

Gloriosa requires a well-drained friable soil with a pH of approximately 5.8-6.5. They also have a high water requirement, particularly in the peak of summer production, although excessive irrigation is not recommended where soil becomes water logged. The application of a complete fertiliser in the region of 15N 9P 15K is recommended and this can be applied as a slow release fertiliser or alternatively in the form of a liquid fertiliser of between 0.4-0.6g/L a week, but where the soil is lacking organic matter, additional nitrogen may be required in the first 6-8 weeks from planting.

Either prior to planting or immediately after, it is recommended that support netting or whichever method of support is being provided for the plant be put in place so that when growth commences and the plants begin to climb, the leaf tendrils can adhere and the stem remain straight. In general there are two methods of planting: Double rows in a bed 20 inches apart with a 24 inch pathway between the beds. Tubers are spaced at 3-8 inches apart within the rows and between the two rows flower netting or vine support is placed up to the height of 1.5m. This netting can be erected vertically in the centre of the bed 20 inches above the soil and held by posts at 6 foot intervals.

An alternative method is to plant in single rows 3 feet apart and 4 inches between the tubers. This method is used where crop support netting is difficult to access and therefore a plant support using strings running horizontally between posts at 12 inch spacing provides sufficient support for the plant to attach to. In most cases the double row spacing is more commonly used.

Tuber Size: The tuber size has no effect on the number of daughter tubers a mother tuber will produce, but the weight of the mother tuber planted does have significant effect on the above ground parts of the plant, that being the number of flowers, the length of stem, the number of lateral stems etc. Therefore, at planting time tubers should be graded as to the length and approximate weights so that the density can vary according to the size of the tuber planted.

Crop Programming: Since dormancy can be broken with relative ease at high temperatures, it is possible to produce up to three crops each year. By varying the storage period and the timing of tuber sprouting and planting, flowering can be scheduled for particular periods, especially in climates that are not dramatically affected by summer and winter time conditions.
Where temperatures do affect the crop growth, summer time production can be taken outdoors with protective cultivation to extend the production under cover when the climate is not beneficial to plant growth.

Pests and Diseases: As this plant is a heat loving plant, the effect of spider mites must be observed in all cases and the required spray programmes applied for mite control. In addition, caterpillars and slugs must also be carefully managed, especially when shoot emergence is occurring from the ground.
Mosaic virus has been noted in Gloriosa and this will affect the chlorophyll in the leaf, showing variations in the color and will also affect the flower by the pigment of colouring being broken from the true red and gold or colours that are applicable to that variety being produced.
Viruses spread by way of aphids, or sucking insects, as well as handling of the tubers when they are broken and therefore care must be taken to discard any material that carries mosaic virus.

Post Harvest and Flower Packing: Gloriosa can be harvested and marketed either as individual blooms or as a stem with several blooms. It is normal that the first flowers that open are cut as individuals with a 6-8 inch stem and these are put into bunches of five and sold accordingly. The remaining stem, which will carry between 3-5+ flowers is then picked with the lateral or primary stem being 20+ inches, this carrying 3, 5 or larger number of blooms.
Stems are cut with three flowers open with a further 2-3 buds unopened. Individual blooms are harvested when the petals have reflexed and the stamens are parted from the stigma. The individual blooms are bunched in 5’s and are best placed in a three cornered plastic bag with a small amount of air and then sealed if meant for shipping. They should be kept in cool store until shipment, at between 45-50°F.
For the individual blooms in bunches of 5, normally 50 stems/box is packaged, but with the individual stems carrying 3-5+ flowers/flower buds, these are shipped in cartons of 20-30 (8-12 inches) stems and it is recommended that a water vile is placed on the base of these large stems to prevent dehydration during transportation.

Future Development: The development of Gloriosa as a cut flower has been of great interest and with new hybrid material being identified and the use of tissue culture as a production method, the opportunities for this flower to be increased significantly in the world market is possible, along with the sale of tubers for both dry bulb and pot plant production.


Disclaimer: The information presented in this leaflet is given in good faith. Plant Intertrade NZ however will bear no responsibility for any losses resulting from its use. No endorsement of specific products included, or criticism of those excluded, is implied.