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blooming plant of the month

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Gladiolus Nanus Group
(glad-ee-O-lus nay-nus)
(Plural: Gladioli, Gladioluses, Gladiolus)

Miniature sword lily, Miniature Gladiolus, Butterfly Gladiolus
Note: The term “gladiola” is often—but mistakenly—used as a common name for Gladiolus, which can sound like “gladiolas.” In formal English, “gladiola” and “gladiolas” are not recognized words.

Potted Gladioli typically have six to 10 funnel-shaped flowers/flower buds, in alternating facings, mostly on one side of 1- to 2-foot-long stems. Blossoms often have blotched colorations and ruffly petal edges.

Gladioli are available in a wide range of reds, oranges, yellows, greens and violets—every hue except blue. Bicolor varieties also are available.

Potted Gladioli should last from two to three weeks, depending on care, environmental conditions and stage of maturity at the time of sale.

Gladioli plants are available from about mid-May through early October.


LIGHT Potted Gladioli require lots of bright light. Some direct sunlight is OK.
WATER These flowering plants are grown from corms, which require only moderate water when in bloom. Soil should be well drained and watered thoroughly only when the soil surface is dry.
In addition, Gladioli are extremely sensitive to fluoride in water, so do not water these plants with tap water that contains fluoride. Effects include deterioration of petal edges, failure of florets to open and develop normally, “burning” of the bud/floret sheath, and yellowing or darkening of leaf edges.
TEMPERATURE Indoors, Gladioli perform best when the environment is moderately cool to temperate—65 F to 70 F during the daytime and 60 F to 65 F at night.
HUMIDITY These plants prefer moderately humid air, so placing the pots on pebble trays or occasionally misting the air around the plants can be beneficial.
FERTILIZER  None is required at the retailer and consumer levels.
ETHYLENE SENSITIVITY Ethylene does not affect open Gladiolus florets, but it can cause buds to shrivel and prevent them from opening. Therefore, make sure your purchases are treated with an ethylene inhibitor at the grower level or during shipping. In addition, keep them away from sources of ethylene in your stores such as ripening fruit, decaying flowers and foliage, automobile exhaust, and tobacco smoke.


LEAF YELLOWING/BROWNING This is typically a result of overwatering, watering with fluoridated water and/or too-low light conditions.
PREMATURE FLOWER BUD DEATH The most likely cause is exposure to ethylene, but other possibilities include watering with fluoridated water, too-low light conditions and too-high temperatures.
PETAL EDGE "BURN" The most common causes are watering with fluoridated water and too much exposure to direct sunlight.


fun facts


WHAT’S IN A NAME Gladiolus is the Latin term for “small sword,” a reference to the shape of the leaves and the derivation of the common name “sword lily.”
The hybrid name “Grandiflorus” means large flowered (see “Cut Flower of the Month”), and the hybrid name “Nanus” (NAY-nus) means dwarf.

FAMILY MATTERS Gladiolus is a member of the Iridaceae (Iris) family. Close relatives include Iris, montbretia (Crocosmia), Crocus, Freesia, African corn lily (Ixia) and bugle lily (Watsonia).

HOME SWEET HOME Gladioli are native primarily to tropical Africa and South Africa but also to Europe, particularly the Mediterranean region, and the Middle East (from Turkey south to Yemen).


purchasing tips

  • Ideally, buy Gladioli plants when only one bloom on each stem is partially open and most of the flower buds are showing some color.

  • Check flower buds, stems and leaves for bruising, browning, yellowing, gray mold (Botrytis) and rot.


Some information provided by:
Bay City Flower Co., Inc,
Botanica, by R.G. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
Chain of Life Network® ,
Dictionary of Plant Names, by Allen J. Coombes
Hortus Third, by Liberty Hyde Bailey and Ethel Zoe Bailey
Stearn’s Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners, by William T. Stearn

Super Floral Retailing • Copyright 2010
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.