According to floral designer and author Rene van Rems, the name gladiolus comes from the Latin word “gladius” which means sword; this is in direct reference to the plant’s sword-shaped leaves (the word “gladiator” comes from the same root word!). Gladiolus are mostly from South Africa, but some plants are also native to the Canary Islands, Turkey and England.
Did you know that there are four categories of flower design? They are: Form, Mass, Line and Filler. The curly willow, cattails, pussy willow and the gladioli plant falls into the line flower category (long, skinny linear twigs or flowers that have movement).
“Glads” like to be planted 6 to 10 inches deep in well-drained soil in full sun to a little shade (be careful; Glads do not like wet soil.).
Glads will look fresh for days because they bloom from the bottom up. They’ll also last longer than other flowers because instead of having just one blossom, the stem has many (they all open slowly from the bottom up).
And always ask for flower food when you’re buying cut flowers (flower food has sugar, biocides and water acidifiers); as a result, the water will have a lower Ph and be softer. Soft water will be absorbed by flower stem tissue much faster than hard water.
Don’t’ put your glads in a lot of water; six inches is great, just adding water to the container, rather than filling the whole vase (less water also means less bacteria!).
The best type of container for glads is a heavy vase (like ceramic or glass), which will help balance the overall composition . Vase height should be one-third of the total flower length. Great stabilizers to use include: uncut ornamental fruit, rocks and glass pebbles.
Glads are very versatile; they can be used for classic, solo and modern settings.
Here are three examples:
Classic mixed-Mix cut glads with lilies for a vase with both line and form flowers. When you’re using glads with other flowers, use the glads as the long lines in the composition (don’t cut them short to fit in with the other flowers.
Solo-Cut open glad blooms in several places and use them as short flowers in a bowl (this way, they’ll look like single flowers in one design). This creates a beautiful centerpiece that doesn’t cut off the view across the table (perfect for weddings and anniversaries!).
Modern-Want full-impact gladioli color? Use them with curly willow or other nice-looking sticks (but no other flowers!).
The new fall-planting, spring-flowering bulb catalog (featuring the gladiolus communis; also called the sword lily, flags or corn lily. 50 bulbs cost $19.50.) is now available for free from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs.
For more info on gladioli and the catalog, check out www.brentandbeckysbulbs.com or call (804) 693-3966.
Source: “Gladly growing gladioli” by Kathy Van Mullekom-Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)-The (Sunday) Vindicator, Aug. 18, 2013