Plant DetailShow Menu

Gladiolus is often confused with:
Babiana nervosa Babiana stricta
Iris Flower in pond pots (1.5 ft. of water) in spring in Moore County
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Narcissus A field of daffodils taken in Hurley Park, Salisbury, NC
Lilium Lillium michiganense
Dianthus caryophyllus Dianthus caryophyllus plants
Gladiolus has some common insect problems:
Aphids on Ornamental Landscape Plants
Gladiolus Thrips
Gladiolus has some common disease problems:
Phytophthora Root and Crown Rot in the Landscape

Gladiolus

Previously known as:

  • Acidanthera
  • Antholyza
Phonetic Spelling
glad-ee-OH-lus
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Sword lily is a genus of flowering bulbs in the Iridaceae (iris) family. The plant is distinguished by long, sword-shaped green leaves in upright fans and funnel-shaped flowers on slender stalks that open one at a time from bottom to top. The genus, which hails from Africa, Madagascar, and Eurasia, includes over 300 species in a range of flower colors.  

Sword lilies prefer full to afternoon sun, protection from strong winds, and rich, well-drained soil; however, they will adapt to most soils except heavy clay. They thrive in damp borders so do not allow soils to dry out. 

The bulbs are tender so delay planting until after the last frost and the soil has had time to warm. The bulbs are hardy in zones 7 to 10. In cooler environments, sword lilies are best treated as annuals. The bulbs can be dug up in the fall and replanted year after year. 

The flowers are fragrant and are excellent cut flowers.  Make consecutive plantings to extend the flowering season. Sword lilies also grow well in containers and in garden borders.  

Diseases, Insects, and Other Plant Problems: Susceptible to Botrytis, crown rot, rust, wilt, and mosaic virus. Watch for aphids, mealy bugs, spider mites, and thrips. If thrips or fungus were a problem during the growing season, consider treating corms with an insecticide or fungicide prior to storage. 

 

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Edibles, Bulbs, and Houseplants" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Caribbean'
    small-flowered hybrid, lavender along petal edges, light yellow in centers, 3' tall
  • 'Carolina-Primrose'
  • 'Flevo Jive'
    compact gladiolus, 12-24" tall, stems do not need support, white and yellow flowers.
  • G. byzantinus
    G. murielae Bunches
  • 'Sapporo'
    3 to 4 inch flowers, pink and yellow with a red heart, grows 3 to 3 1/2 ft. tall and 1 to 1 1/2 ft. wide.
  • 'Zwanenburg'
'Caribbean', 'Carolina-Primrose', 'Flevo Jive', G. byzantinus, G. murielae, 'Sapporo', 'Zwanenburg'
Tags:
#cultivars#fragrant#full sun tolerant#many colors#showy#edible flowers#corms#cut flowers#well-drained soil#summer bulbs#border planting#edible garden#problem for cats#ebh#problem for dogs#problem for horses#ebh-g#partial sun tolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Caribbean'
    small-flowered hybrid, lavender along petal edges, light yellow in centers, 3' tall
  • 'Carolina-Primrose'
  • 'Flevo Jive'
    compact gladiolus, 12-24" tall, stems do not need support, white and yellow flowers.
  • G. byzantinus
    G. murielae Bunches
  • 'Sapporo'
    3 to 4 inch flowers, pink and yellow with a red heart, grows 3 to 3 1/2 ft. tall and 1 to 1 1/2 ft. wide.
  • 'Zwanenburg'
'Caribbean', 'Carolina-Primrose', 'Flevo Jive', G. byzantinus, G. murielae, 'Sapporo', 'Zwanenburg'
Tags:
#cultivars#fragrant#full sun tolerant#many colors#showy#edible flowers#corms#cut flowers#well-drained soil#summer bulbs#border planting#edible garden#problem for cats#ebh#problem for dogs#problem for horses#ebh-g#partial sun tolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Gladiolus
    Family:
    Iridaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Bulb
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Africa, Madagascar, Eurasia
    Bulb Storage:
    Harvest corms after foliage dies in the fall. Clean carefully and store dry in mesh bags with good air circulation at 35-41 degrees F (2-5C)
    Edibility:
    Flowers (with anthers removed) are edible. Works best as a garnish or as a container for dip or spread.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Bulb
    Edible
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Dense
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Capsules usually slightly inflated, oblong to ellipsoid or globose [rarely nearly cylindric], softly cartilaginous. Seeds usually many, broadly winged; rarely few, wingless, globose or angular; seed coat light to dark brown.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Orange
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Spike
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Fragrant
    Good Cut
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Funnel
    Flower Petals:
    6 petals/rays
    Tepals
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Many cultivars with a variety of colors. Edible once anthers are removed. Bloom from late summer into early fall. Inflorescences spicate, partly to fully secund (on one side of the spike) or with flowers weakly distichous; bracts green, sometimes flushed grayish purple, unequal, outer usually exceeding inner, acute or inner forked or notched apically. Flowers zygomorphic [actinomorphic]; tepals basally connate into tube, variously colored, usually with contrasting markings comprising nectar guide on outer tepals, usually unequal, dorsal tepal largest, arched to hooded over stamens, outer 3 tepals narrower; perianth tube obliquely funnel-shaped to cylindric; stamens usually unilateral; anthers usually parallel; style usually arching over stamens, dividing into 3 filiform branches, these distally expanded.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves 1–9; blade lanceolate to linear, plane or margins and/or midribs variously raised and thickened (then H- or X-shaped in cross section), or evidently terete, midribs and margins much thickened, grooved; grooves 4, narrow, longitudinal.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Description:
    Stems are simple or branched.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Landscape Theme:
    Cutting Garden
    Edible Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Problems:
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Salivation, vomiting, drooling, lethargy, diarrhea. Highest concentration in corms (bulbs)
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Unknown
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Leaves
    Roots