A genus comprising many cormous-rooted plants
native to South Africa, and two in Europe; also
called Sword Lily.
The leaves are erect and sword-like and the funnel-shaped
flowers are of variable size, being borne several
at a time on spikes that vary considerably in
Gladiolus byzantinus, from Asia Minor, reaches two feet,
bearing purplish-red flowers, two or more inches
Gladiolus communis, from southern Europe, reaches two
feet, with flowers that vary from white to rose
and purple. Gladiolus primulinus, from south-east Africa,
is a graceful plant up to three and a half feet,
with small, hooded primrose-yellow flowers, known
as Maid of the Mist.
Gladiolus colvillei has medium-sized flowers varying
from white to shades of pink or scarlet.
Gladiolus colvillei in autumn and protect with bracken,
also Gladiolus byzantinus and Gladiolus communis.
Gladiolus primulinus is planted in March in well-drained
rich soil in full sun, and lifted and stored away
from frost in winter.
Propagate by cormlets and seed.
The flowering season is from June to August.
Gladiolus – Corn Flag
Hardy “bulb” (corm).
Two to five feet.
Flowers of various colours, May to September.
The Gladiolus root is a flattened circular corm,
which throws up in summer flag-like leaves crowned
by a spike of flowers opening in succession.
the season’s growth the old corm dies; one
or two new corms are formed on the top of the
old one, and frequently a number of small bulb-shaped
offsets are found about its edge.
The main division of the Gladioli is according
to the time of flowering. The early kinds bloom
in May, June and July.
The roots of these should
be planted not later than the beginning of March,
two inches under the soil and three or four apart
in patches; the soil should be good and if possible
well drained and sandy.
In a favourable position
the roots will increase undisturbed for several
years, but in heavy ground they must be taken
up as soon as the foliage withers, dried and cleaned,
and kept in a cool dry place till next planting-time.
The flowers of the early section are much smaller
than those of the Gandavensis and other later
strains; but they are undeservedly neglected at
The old Gladiolus Byzantinus, a pretty purplish
crimson, is one of the most enduring and easily
grown of plants.
Other good sorts are Insignis,
crimson and purple;
Prince Albert, red and white,
a free grower;
Rosy Gem, rose-pink;
Alba (“The Bride”) is a beautiful
white, but not such a “good doer”
as some of the others.
The later flowering Gladioli are a much more imposing
family than their forerunners; the plants are
taller and stouter, the flowers much larger and
their colouring far more vivid and varied.
several divisions which the amateur need concern
himself with are the Gandavensis hybrids (called
also Exhibition Gladioli), the Lemoinei and the
Childsii seedlings, and the Brenchleyensis strain.
The Gandavensis Gladioli are the most various
and splendid in colour of all, displaying many
shades of crimson, pink, scarlet, purple, mauve,
salmon, light yellow, violet and slate, as well
as white, in self colours or streaked and flaked.
The roots should be planted between the beginning
of March and the middle of May, two or three inches
deep and about nine inches apart.
The best way
to grow the plants is in beds, making parallel
drills with the line and placing the corms equal
distances apart in the rows.
The soil should have
been prepared beforehand; if naturally light,
a good digging during the winter, working in plenty
of old manure and leaf-mould, will suffice; heavy
ground and clay must have plenty of old hot-bed
stuff, wood ashes, road grit and sharp sand. The
planting should be done when the soil is crumbly
Weeds must be rigorously kept down
(this requires care before the shoots of the gladioli
show themselves conspicuously through the mould);
and before the flower spike is half developed
it must be lightly tied to a sufficient stick,
some four feet out of the ground.
As soon as the
flower spikes are quite over, and before the foliage
decays, fork the plants up, tie them up in bundles
just as they are, and hang them up in a cool,
dry shed, safe from frost.
When the leaves are
brown and withered, cut them off with a sharp
knife just above the new corm; pull off the old
corm and its dead root fibres, and clear away
any small bulbets on the roots (these may be kept
and planted the following April in nursery beds,
when with the ordinary care they will form flowering
roots in two or three seasons).
corms should be stored secure from mice, damp
and warmth, till the following spring.
The Gandavensis section is unfortunately not altogether
the easiest to grow, and the beginner must be
prepared for a proportion of blank places and
The comparatively new
breeds called Childsii and Lemoinei hybrids, though
not so varied as the Gandavensis, are much more
willing growers, and will succeed under less favourable
They may be had in named sorts, but
for all ordinary purposes a good mixture is most
satisfactory. Though they are said to be quite
hardy, the grower will be wise to lift and dry
them before autumn rains.
With this treatment
they will probably find the corms about double
their number every year; if left in the ground
they will sooner or later entirely disappear.
The Brenchleyensis is a hardy and easily grown
tribe, of a soft full scarlet which is invaluable
to the autumnal garden. “First-size”
roots should be planted from the middle of March
to the end of April, and treated in the same way
as the hybrid kinds.
They should be planted in
mixed borders in patches of five or six; a bed
of a hundred or so would give a piece of colour
that might fairly be called “sumptuous”.
Unfortunately the Gladiolus is persecuted by a
fungoid disease which sometimes will prevent a
single spike in a whole bed from opening its flowers
and will cause every corm to decay.
seems to resemble the specific disease of the
lilies; there is no known cure. All the infected
plants should be burnt, and the ground they have
occupied should be thoroughly dug and exposed
to the air.