The Gladiolus Genus (Gladiola; Sword Lily)

Gladiolus is a striking genus of perennial plants which come from the iris family.

This genus is made up of around 300 different species, which hail from South Africa, Asia, and the Mediterranean parts of Europe.

You can see the resemblance to the iris in the sword-shaped leaves, as well as the huge amount of different colors available. 

Gladiolus plants produce large flower spikes which feature clusters of large, bright flowers in a range of different designs, and they are favorites of florists and gardeners across the world.

Gladiolus Name Origin

The genus name comes from the Latin word for small sword, gladiolus, as the plants have similarly shaped foliage.

The Ancient Greeks also saw the resemblance, calling the flower xiphium, which is derived from xiphos, meaning sword.

Gladiolus Flower Symbolism

As you might imagine from the name meaning, these flowers represent perseverance, honor, duty, strength, bravery and a strong moral code.

Gladiolus flowers also signify grace, faith, death, mourning, or a confession of your deepest feelings for someone.

If you’re in doubt of how your message might be misunderstood, it’s worth combining a flower arrangement of gladiolus with flowers that also hold a similar meaning, to prevent any confusion.

Gladiolus Uses

Gladioli are versatile plants which look perfect in any planting scheme, providing a plethora of color and height into any garden.

While the smaller varieties are suitable for containers, those which reach more impressive heights look great in the middle or at the back of borders, injecting a wealth of color into your garden.

It is said that in Ancient Rome, gladiators would wear gladiolus bulbs around their necks when they went into the arena to battle, as they believed the plants would help protect them from failure and death.

In some places, gladiolus is used as a herbal remedy to draw out thorns and splinters. It’s also employed to alleviate colds and stomach complaints.

Some people use gladioli as flowers in funerals, so if you plan on giving the flowers as a gift, make sure you do it carefully!

Gladiolus Growing Requirements

As these plants grow from corms, you need to provide them with a good amount of drainage to stop them from rotting. Gladioli like damp soil which has a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.

They need full sunlight in order to thrive, preferably in a sheltered position, as very strong winds can tip over the flower spikes or snap them completely.

These plants are hardy in USDA zones 2 through to 10, and can reach anywhere from 2 feet to 6 feet tall, depending on the variety.

They don’t need a lot of water as long as the soil retains some moisture, and are very low maintenance plants that will provide your garden with plenty of color.

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