The gladiolus is a beautiful plant that will brighten the looks of any garden, adding an elegant heritage beauty. There are approximately 260 different species of gladiolus, so there is a wide range of colour and heights to choose from for planting. Distinctly, all gladiolas share similar features - leaves that resemble sharp blades and a row of upwardly blooming flowers on a spike shooting to the sky from the leaves. Each tall spike will produce many flowers that open in succession of each other, from the bottom of the spike to the top, over a time frame ranging from a couple of days to a week.
The gladiolus is a common genus of flowers native primarily to Africa and growing in a belt stretching from the area around the Mediterranean Sea all the way to the Far East. It is within this belt that the gladiolus grows naturally and where the climate is the best suited for this kind of flower. Fortunately, for gardeners in other regions of the world, there are hybrids today that allow the gladiolus to be planted in temperate climates. Indeed, the glad has become a common garden plant and in the winter is lifted from the ground each year and replanted again in the spring. During the Roman Empire, the gladiolus was the official symbol of the gladiators that fought within the coliseum in Rome. In Latin the word gladius means sword, and it was because of the gladiolus' sword-like leaves that it has the name we know this flower as today. Another ancient name for the gladiolus was "xiphium," derived from the Greek word "xiphos", which interestingly also means " sword."
The gladiolus is, as are many other plants that grow from bulbs, extremely easy to plant and grow. Planting a gladiolus is simply a matter of obtaining a gladiolus bulb, digging a small hole and setting the bulb into the right kind of soil. Luckily, the gladiolus is not very picky when it comes to soil type, and although it has some preferences, it is very straightforward to amend a poor soil into one that the gladiolus will thrive within. When purchasing your gladiolus bulbs, it is wise to inspect them carefully for signs of disease. Each bulb should be firm, well-sized and richly tinted. One infected bulb can contaminate a whole planting. Visit our Growing Gladiolus page to learn more.
When planted, the gladiolus will more or less take care of itself until it blooms - it is a very independent flower. The gladiolus might enjoy a feeding of liquid fertilizer (mixed with water) during the peak of the growing period but is not necessary. Just ensure that the gladiolus does not get over-watered to prevent the bulb from rotting. Insect pests are few and swiftly dealt with using an ordinary organic insecticide. Learn more on our Gladiolus Care page.
The gladiolus is a fantastic cut flower that will impress visitors to your home and garden. As a cut flower, it stays beautiful and fresh for a very long time and works perfectly as the centrepiece in all kinds of vases or large bouquets. The gladiolus is the birth flower for the month of August. In the language of flowers, giving glads means you might be expressing the sentiment of “love at first sight”, or an infatuation, telling the receiver that he or she "pierces the heart." Gladiolus are also said to symbolize remembrance, and can be appropriately given at anniversaries to celebrate the memories of many happy years together.