Gladioli, (glad-ee-OH-lie) or "Glads," are among the most popular summer-flowering bulbs. They are perennial plants and can be counted upon to bloom year after year. However, as "tender" bulbs, glads are not able to withstand northern winters outside in the ground. Gladioli (from the Latin "small sword") take their name from their distinctive swordlike leaves. They grow from bulbs called corms, which are modified stems with buds at the tips. Their beauty and popularity have encouraged the development of many, many varieties which offer a wide range of flower color, form and size for the garden.
Height And Spread of Glads
Those gladioli classed as Miniature grow 1-1/2 to 3 feet high, and each plant is about 3 to 6 inches wide. The larger Butterfly Hybrids grow 2 to 4 feet high and spread 4 to 6 inches. The very largest glads, the Giant Hybrids, are as tall as 3 to 5 feet and spread 4 to 6 inches wide.
Gladiolus flowers are showy, 6-petalled, and funnel-shaped. They are arrayed up the side of erect, unbranched stems. They bloom from June to October, depending on the variety. Individual glad flowers come into bloom gradually , progressing from lower on the stem to its tip. They last about 1 week. Bloom size ranges from 2-1/2 inches wide for Miniatures to 5-1/2 inches wide for Giants.
The flowers of only one species, G. tristis, have a sweet scent. Petals of glads may be frilled, ruffled, or smooth, and they come in nearly all colors of the spectrum. Available flower colors include: white, cream, light yellow, orange, light and deep salmon, scarlet, light red, deep red, black red, light and deep rose, shades of violet to lavender to purple. Many are bi-colored, with interesting markings.
Gladiolus leaves grow directly from the base of the plant, the corm. They are sword-shaped with smooth edges. Long and narrow, and medium green, they grow from 12 to 18 inches long.