This is one of the prizes of my bulb collection. Gladiolus equitans is a dwarf species from South Africa, one of the many interesting geophytes that grow in the arid Namaqualand region (see my post on Brunsvigia namaquana for another). Its leathery leaves are about six inches long (15-16 cm), and the flowering plant stands less than a foot tall (~30 cm). The flowers are only about 1″ (2.5 cm) across, but their bright colors demand attention. Although each flower is short-lived, the inflorescence continues to produce flowers sequentially for a couple of weeks.
Unlike some of the larger summer-growing Gladiolus, G. equitans would never survive the winter outside in North Carolina. This is definitely a plant for a greenhouse, sun room, or cool sunny windowsill. I grow mine in a small terra-cotta pot with a fast draining mix of stalite, sand, and a little commercial potting mix. It’s watered several times a week from early October until the corms start to go dormant in March, then left dry for the rest of the spring and summer.