Gladiolus gladiolus

(glad-ee-o' luss)

Common name: Gladiolus, Gladiola (plural Gladioli)

Family: Iridaceae, Iris

Height x width: 1-5' x 6"

Growth rate: moderate to fast

Foliage: basal and cauline (attached to and arising from the stem), lanceolate (sword shaped), 1-2" wide, erect with many veins

Flowers: 2-4" across, arranged in one-sided spikes; many shades and colors in summer; successive plantings ensure continuous bloom (photo courtesy Twdragon,

Hardiness: tender corm, zone 9

Soil: moist, well-drained

Light: sun

Pests and problems: bulb rots, botrytis leaf spots, rust, mosaic virus, aphids, spider mites, thrips, borers-- most problems rare

Landscape habit, uses: cutting, vertical effect in borders

Other interest: derived from Latin gladius for sword, refering to leaf shape; cultivars are of hybrid origin

Other culture: increase water and fertility when flowers begin to develop, avoid heavy clay or sandy soils; plant 4" deep in clay soils, 6" deep in others; the deeper the planting the less need for staking and increased chance for survival in zones 7-8. Dig corms when foliage yellows-- about 6 weeks after flowering; leave in flats to mature; remove foliage once dead and store ideally at 45ºF and 80% relative humidity.

Propagation: division of cormels from mother corm, after foliage dies; corms graded by size with 1 being largest, 4 smallest and not flowering the first year.


Of the almost 200 species, few are grown outside their native regions which include much of the world. Most cultivars seen in commerce derive from 7 species from So. Africa.


Because of the complex and intense breeding over many years, and resulting confusion as to parentage, cultivars can't be grouped by species. Instead the accepted classification in much of the world is the one by the North American Gladiolus Council, which groups cultivars by flower size, color and form. These three traits are assigned numbers-- the first is flower width of largest floret when fully expanded in inches, the second coded to color, and the third to intensity of color if even or marking if odd (the higher the number the more intense)-- resulting in a trinomial designation such as 454 refering to a large sized (4" wide), medium red flower. Codes for colors are: 0 white, 1 yellow, 2 orange, 3 salmon, 4 pink, 5 red, 6 rose, 7 lavender, 8 violet, 9 brown or other. Trinomials are applied whether a flower is unclassified, a primulinus hybrid, or a summer-flowering grandiflora-- the latter containing most cultivars.

The grandifloras are further broken down by size of plant, from tall (4-6') to short, small or miniature (3' or less).
Cultivars (grandiflora) height color
'Amanda Mahy' short red
'America' tall white to cream
'Blue Bird' tall lavender
'Canary Bird' tall yellow 
'Canterbury' tall lavender
'Daybreak' tall pink to salmon
'Daydream' tall white to cream
'Dreaming Spires Orange' tall orange
'Dreaming Spires Pink' tall pink to salmon
'Easter Time' tall white to cream
'Esta Bonita' tall yellow to orange
'First Kiss' tall pink to salmon
'Fond Memory' tall pink to salmon
'Glacier' tall white
'Glorianda' tall pink to salmon
'Gold Coin' tall yellow
'Green Bay' tall green
'Green Woodpecker' tall green
'Harvest King' tall yellow to orange
'Her Majesty' tall lavender
'Impressive' short white
'Intrepid' tall red
'Jacksonville Gold' tall yellow
'My Love' tall white
'Nova Lux' tall yellow to orange
'Oscar' tall red
'Peter Pears' tall red
'Pink Attraction' tall white to cream
'Plum Tart' tall violet
'Prince Carnaval' tall white to cream
'Princes Margaret Rose' tall yellow to orange
'Priscilla' tall multicolored
'Purple Gem' tall violet
'Red Beauty' tall red
'Red Sky' tall red
'Royal Dutch' tall lavender
'Rubinette' short pink
'Sacred Heart' tall white to cream
'Spic and Span' tall pink to salmon
'St. Georges' tall red
'St. Mary's' tall white to cream
'St. Patrick's' tall green
'St. Peters' tall red
'Sans Souci' tall red
'Storm Clouds' tall lavender
'Summer Sunrise' tall red
'Sundown' tall yellow to orange
'Suntan' tall yellow to orange
'The Bride' short white
'Tradehorn' tall red
'True Love' tall pink to salmon
'Veerle' tall pink to salmon
'White Friendship' tall white
'White Prosperity' tall white
'Windsong' tall pink to salmon
'Wine and Roses' tall pink to salmon
'Yester' tall yellow to orange
'Zigeunerbaron' tall violet

©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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