• Gladioli in a nutshell
  • The word of our Expert
  • Botanical
  • The main varieties
  • Planting gladioli
  • Maintenance
  • Diseases and pests of gladiolus
  • Propagation of gladioli: division and sowing
  • Associating gladioli with the garden
  • frequently asked Questions
  • Useful resources

Gladioli in a nutshell

  • Gladioli offer an exceptional diversity of colors
  • Their colors are often bright, very vivid, but can also be soft
  • They light up the summer, bringing vitality to the garden!
  • Their very straight bearing brings verticality and dynamism to the massifs.

They appreciate warm, sunny, bright exposures

Gladiolus is a bulbous plant bearing spikes in summer, made up of many large, very colorful flowers ! These hold up well in the vase and are frequently used in bouquets. Gladiolus is a plant that was very popular in the 70s, and which today is a little more neglected… yet, many varieties really deserve our attention! Let yourself be seduced by the very elegant flowers of Gladiolus callianthus (Acidanthera or Abyssinian Gladiolus), the pink and delicate flowers of the Byzantine Gladiolus, or the refined flowering of Gladiolus colvillei .

The gladiolus is a paradoxical plant: it is often exuberant, imposing , with bright, almost overwhelming colors… But at the same time, we can find, on the contrary, very delicate species , sometimes with really elegant and natural blooms. Gladioli are surprising in their diversity: from the most extravagant varieties, perfect in very worked beds, to wild gladioli, such as the Byzantium gladiolus, capable of integrating into a country-style garden. In terms of shades, everything seems possible: there are red, white, green, yellow, almost black gladioli… These are often quite tall plants, bringing volume to the beds, but there are also dwarf gladioli.

Gladiolus are easy to grow plants. They are planted in the spring , for flowering a few months later. They like full sun and draining , even sandy substrates. The maintenance of gladioli consists mainly, in most cases, of digging up the bulbs in autumn to store them in a frost-free shelter for the winter, and bringing them out in the spring. The tallest varieties will need to be staked.

Gladiolus is a perennial plant of which there are between 270 and 300 botanical species , and more than 10,000 horticultural varieties. The majority of species come from South Africa. Others grow in other regions of Africa, in western Asia or around the Mediterranean. The center of gladioli diversity is the Cape Floral Region, South Africa. In France, in the wild, there are 7 species, including Gladiolus italicus and Gladiolus byzantinus , two species sometimes introduced into gardens. Gladioli have been widely distributed by man across the world for their cultivation. Gladioli are separated into three main groups: grandiflorus, nanus and primulinus.

It was in the 18th century that gladioli originating in South Africa were imported into Europe to be cultivated there. They began to be hybridized at the beginning of the 19th century . The horticultural varieties found in gardens today come from 6 or 7 South African species.

Gladiolus belongs to the Iridaceae family, like irises or crocuses! This family has between 1,800 and 2,000 species, including many plants cultivated for their aesthetic appearance: crocosmia, chasmanthe, dierama, dietes, freesia, ixia, tritonia… These are monocotyledonous plants, often herbaceous, and which generally have underground reserve organs: bulbs, corms, rhizomes… Most of the time, their leaves are linear, thick, erect, and with parallel veins.

The name of the gladiolus comes from the Latin gladius , which means sword , sword, alluding to the shape of the foliage, fine, erect and pointed. It is a plant that symbolizes strength and victory, heroism. In Roman times, gladioli flowers were offered to gladiators who won a fight.

Gladioli have an elegant, very slender shape. They bring verticality and dynamism to the garden. They are usually quite large; thus, they are placed rather in the middle or the bottom of the beds to accompany smaller plants. The tallest varieties reach 1.50 m, even 1.80 m. Conversely, there are dwarf gladioli ( Gladiolus nanus, Gladiolus colvillei, Gladiolus illyricus, etc. ), which do not exceed 50 cm in height.

Gladioli have a rigid, very straight appearance. Their stems are quite thick and are usually unbranched. Their lack of flexibility makes them quite sensitive to the wind. This explains why the taller varieties need staking.

Gladiolus blooms in summer, between June and September-October , for about 15 days, sometimes longer. The flowering period also depends on when you installed them, which is why it is advisable to stagger the plantings. Gladioli usually bloom two and a half to three months after planting. There are also gladioli that bloom in the spring, such as Gladiolus byzantinus . Dwarf gladioli, Gladiolus nanus , usually bloom in late spring, around June.

The gladiolus flowers in long, very straight and rigid spikes. They are composed of densely grouped flowers, all on the same side of the flower stalk. The spikes often bear between ten and twenty-five flowers – sometimes fewer in the small gladioli ( Gladiolus nanus, Gladiolus papilio , etc.). The flowers are not all bloomed at the same time: those located at the bottom open first, followed by those at the top.

Generally, gladiolus flowers are quite large. They have been selected precisely for their impressive flowering. It is therefore the large-flowered varieties (hybrids of Gladiolus grandiflorus ) that are the most marketed and the most common in cultivation. The flowers of botanical species and butterfly gladioli are smaller. Generally speaking, gladioli flowers often measure between 2 and 5 cm in diameter.

They have a funnel or trumpet shape. They are sometimes elongated and slightly open – the tepals forming a long, thin tube – as in Gladiolus italicus , but can also be wide open ( Gladiolus callianthus ). They are composed of smooth or wavy, curly petals. Some gladioli have fine, slender, very elegant petals, giving them a lily-like appearance, as with Gladiolus colvillei

Gladiolus flowers consist of six tepals (three petals and three sepals, having the same appearance). There are two bracts at the base of each flower. The tepals form a tube at the base. The central tepal, located above, is often the largest. It surmounts three stamens. The three outer tepals are usually smaller. The flowers are bisexual: they have male (stamens) and female (pistil) organs. The stamens are sometimes decorative, as in Gladiolus colvillei ‘The Bride’ , where they are purple and shade the immaculate white bloom. The gladiolus flower is type 3: there are three sepals, three petals, three stamens, a style divided into three branches. And later the capsules (fruit) will open into three parts.

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