Sword Lily

Gladiolus spp.

Swaardlelies (Afr.)

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Gladiolus is a genus of about 180 species of cormous perennials. These plants originate from rocky slopes, seasonally dry grassland and marshy areas of South Africa, and are grown for their spike of showy funnel-shaped flowers that open from the bottom upwards. Over 10,000 hybrids and cultivars have been developed for cultivation, exhibiting and cutting. They are classified into 3 groups, Grandiflorus, Nanus and Primulinus. Grandiflorus produce one spike per corm with closely packed flowers, up to 28 buds with up to 12 open at one time. They are further divided into 5 size classes according to the diameter of the bottom flower. Nanus hybrids and cultivars produce 2-3 slender spikes with loosely arranged flowers, bearing up to 7 buds with 3-5 open at one time. Primulins hybrids and cultivars produce only one thin whip-like stem per corm which bears as many as 23 buds with up to 7 open at one time, with the flowers are arranged in a semi-formal step-ladder arrangement.

Planning

Difficulty

Easy

Flowering time

Summer, Winter, Spring

Fruiting time

Summer, Winter, Spring

Harvesting

Flowers can be cut for the vase from the garden. Commercially grown flowers are supplied to the floriculture industry. Flowering spikes are cut without the leaves.

Propagation

Division

Separate cormlets when dormant.

Seed

Sow seeds into trays or containers in spring, keep moist.

Special features

Attractive flowers

The flowers, which are borne on a spike, are funnel-shaped and make a striking show.

Pot plant

Can be grown in pots. Use good fertile potting medium, keep them well watered in the growing season, and dry while dormant.

Special features

Origin

South Africa, Northwest and East Africa, Madagascar, Mediterranean, Asia, Arabian peninsula and West Asia.

Natural climate

Temperate

Environment

Light

Full Sun, Partial Shade, Partial Sun

Soil moisture

Moist

Soil type

Loam, Compost

Soil PH preference

Neutral

Frost hardiness

Half-Hardy

Uses

Cut flowers

One of the top 10 cut flowers in world, although the natural bulbs are not always that showy.

Personality

Family

Iridaceae

Flower colour

Purple, Red, Green, White, Orange, Pink, Yellow, Cream

Scent

Mild

Problems

Prone to Gladiolus corm rot, various types of grey mould, thrips, aphids and slugs.