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Gladiolus: the summer bulb of the year

The Gladiolus is such a popular summer bulb that flower bulb specialists have appointed it “Summer Bulb of the Year”. These plants introduce color by producing tall spikes covered with flowers and surrounded by sword-shaped leaves. Their rewarding flowers provide unprecedented enjoyment.

The sword lily

According to botanists, there are around 300 different gladiolus species that come originally from Africa. There, they occur as wild plants growing in their natural environment. They have been cultivated ever since 1941 so anyone can now enjoy them in their gardens. Their botanical name, “Gladiolus” - is the diminutive for the Latin word, Gladius, which means “sword”. Their sword-shaped leaves and the meaning of their botanical name has led to their common name: sword lilies.

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A corm

Gladioli can be recognized by their tall, sturdy, upright stems. Both sides of this stem are covered with flowers that can be almost any color of the rainbow. And they can range from pastels to vivid eye-catching hues. Did you know that a gladiolus isn’t a true bulb, but rather what’s known as a corm? Unlike true bulbs that store their nutrients in layers of scales, corms use their solid fleshy roots as an underground storage organ.

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Groups

Since there are so many different gladioli, there are two classified groups: the large-flowered and the small-flowered varieties.

The large-flowered group contains more varieties than the small-flowered one. These are made up of hundreds of varieties in a wide range of colors and color combinations. In general, they are taller than three feet. These varieties include:

Small-flowering gladioli produce smaller flowers and are not as tall. They are subdivided into:

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Planting and care

Gladioli need plenty of light, so plant them in a sunny location in the garden. They combine well with other summer bulbs, such as dahlias and foxtail lilies (Eremurus) as well as with perennials and ornamental grasses. They can be planted from mid-April until the end of May. Arrange them in small groups of 3-5 corms at a depth of about 4 inches. Make sure that the pointed end is on top. After planting, drench the soil to get them off to a good start, and keep watering during dry weather.

Interesting little facts

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