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Gladiolus is often confused with:
Babiana nervosa Babiana stricta
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Narcissus A field of daffodils taken in Hurley Park, Salisbury, NC
Lilium Lillium michiganense
Allium giganteum Allium giganteum, close
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

Gladiola Gladiolus

Previously known as:

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

Gladiolus, or Gladiolas, are a genus of flowering bulbs with sword-shaped green leaves in 2 inch long upright fans and funnel-shaped flowers on slender stalks that open one at a time from bottom to top in summer and early fall. The flowers are fragrant and make excellent cut flowers. The bulbs may winter over in USDA zones 7 to 10, but to ensure maximum flowering, the corms are treated as annuals, dug up in the fall and replanted after last frost the following year. They are Tender III class and are injured below 25 degrees F (2 degrees C).

The genus includes over 300 species in a range of flower colors (white, cream, yellow, orange, red, pink, lavender, purple and green) divided into three main hybrid groups:

  • Grandiflora hybrids. Large, 4 to 6 inch wide, flowered gladiolas, 3 to 6 feet tall spikes with up to 30 flowers per spike. This hybrid is noted as the most difficult to grow in the garden.
  • Nanus hybrids. Miniature plants with small, 3 inch wide, flaring blooms on 1.5 foot spikes.
  • Primulinus hybrids. Hooded flowers on 2 to 4 foot spikes. The flowers appear to be more graceful and loose than other hybrids. This group includes the subgroup, Butterfly hybrids, a 2 to 3 foot plant whose flowers have ruffled petals and contrasting throat blotches and other marking.

Gladiolas 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.  You can start corms indoors in early spring, or plant directly in the soil after last frost. Delay planting until soil has warmed and make consecutive plantings to extend the flowering season. Plant corms 2 to 3 inches deep for small corms and 5 to 6 inches deep for large corms. Regardless of size, space them 5 to 8 inches apart.  

Provide consistent moisture during the growing season and do not allow soils to dry out. After bloom, reduce watering. After foliage yellows and before the first significant frost, dig up corms, cut off stems and leaves, separate cormels (small corms at the base), dry corms and cormels, discard any diseased or damaged corms and store remaining ones for winter in a dry medium in a cool, frost-free location. 

Diseases, Insects, and Other Plant Problems:

Susceptible to Bortytis, 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.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Caribbean'
    small-flowered hybrid, lavender along petal edges, light yellow in centers, 3' tall
  • 'Flevo Jive'
    compact gladiolus, 12-24" tall, stems do not need support, white and yellow flowers.
  • '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'
Tags:
#cultivars#fragrant#full sun#many colors#partial sun#showy#edible flowers#corms#cut flowers#well-drained soil#summer bulbs#borders#edible garden#problem for cats#ebh#problem for dogs#problem for horses#ebh-g
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Caribbean'
    small-flowered hybrid, lavender along petal edges, light yellow in centers, 3' tall
  • 'Flevo Jive'
    compact gladiolus, 12-24" tall, stems do not need support, white and yellow flowers.
  • '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'
Tags:
#cultivars#fragrant#full sun#many colors#partial sun#showy#edible flowers#corms#cut flowers#well-drained soil#summer bulbs#borders#edible garden#problem for cats#ebh#problem for dogs#problem for horses#ebh-g
  • 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: 2 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Bulb
    Edible
    Habit/Form:
    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:
    7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b
  • 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 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 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 Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Linear
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    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