plant of the month
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Gladiolus Nanus Group
(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.
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
Gladioli are available in a
wide range of reds, oranges, yellows, greens and violets—every
hue except blue. Bicolor varieties also are available.
should last from two to three weeks, depending on care,
environmental conditions and stage of maturity at the time of
plants are available from about mid-May through early October.
IN-STORE AND CONSUMER CARE
Potted Gladioli require lots of bright light. Some direct
sunlight is OK.
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.
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.
These plants prefer
moderately humid air, so placing the pots on pebble trays or
occasionally misting the air around the plants can be
None is required at the retailer and consumer levels.
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
This is typically a result
of overwatering, watering with fluoridated water and/or too-low
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.
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
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
Gladioli plants when only one bloom on each stem
is partially open and most of the flower buds are
showing some color.
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
by Liberty Hyde Bailey and
Ethel Zoe Bailey
Stearn’s Dictionary of
Plant Names for Gardeners,
by William T. Stearn