Gladiolus is the largest genus in the Iridaceae family with 255 species. It has been studied by taxonomists and now includes Acidanthera, Homoglossum, Anomalesia, and Oenostachys along with species once included in Antholyza. The geographic range includes Africa, Madagascar, Europe, and the Middle East. Gladiolus has been a treasured flower in many areas of the world. Many of the fancy hybrids that are popular garden plants had their origins in some of the South African species. Telling apart the European species commonly grown is challenging for most of us, especially since seed exchanges use a multitude of different names for what is probably the same species. Angelo Porcelli has written a paper entitled Gladiolus of Southern Italy that helps distinguish between Gladiolus byzantinus (considered by some to be a synonymn of Gladiolus communis), Gladiolus communis, and Gladiolus italicus.

Gladiolus plants are subjected to Thrips, especially the ones that grow and bloom in warm weather.

The standard reference book for the South African Gladiolus species is probably Goldblatt & Manning's hefty Gladiolus in Southern Africa. Another useful reference is Gladiolus in Tropical Africa.

Many of the winter-growing South African species have delicate-looking, multicolored flowers that bear little resemblance to the large, bold-colored summer-growing hybrids found in garden centers. But many of them are tough plants that can persist in the ground in a mediterranean-climate garden, and a few species (particularly Gladiolus tristis) will spread themselves around the garden by seed. These spreaders probably shouldn't be grown next to wild land in mediterranean climates.

The name derives from gladius a short sword in Roman times (as in gladiator), and this is the name Pliny (around the first century AD) used in reference to the shape of the leaves of the species he was familiar with.

Growing from seeds is not difficult for species in this genus. It is said that South African species require temperature under 20 °C to germinate successfully but Bill Richardson found that temperature fluctuation from -2 °C (28 °F) to nearly 20 °C (68 °F) during the day does not have a huge effect on germination. Since there are summer and winter growing species, one must choose the right time for planting. Winter growing species should be planted in the fall. Summer growing species should be sown in the spring, and require somewhat warm temperature to germinate well. Room temperature (25 °C/77 °F) works well. Sow the seeds in a well-drained mix and slightly cover with the mix. The papery wings that surround the seeds do not need to be removed. After sowing, place the pots in a tray with water and allow the medium to soak thoroughly. Above watering can dislodge the seeds and cause them to float to the surface. The seeds are most viable when planted within 1 year, although they can remain viable for longer. Allow a dry summer dormancy for the winter growing species and a dry winter dormancy for the summer growing species. It is probably best to not transplant the seedlings until they have completed their second season of growth. Representatives of some of the species are shown below.

Gladiolus alatus, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus papilio, Cameron McMasterGladiolus carmineus, Bob RutemoellerGladiolus watsonius, Mary Sue IttnerGladiolus bullatus, Napier, Cameron McMasterGladiolus carinatus,  Alan Horstmann

Information on named species can be found on the wiki pages below or by clicking on the name of the species in the table.

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Gladiolus species
Gladiolus abbreviatus Gladiolus acuminatus Gladiolus alatus Gladiolus albens
Gladiolus anatolicus Gladiolus angustus Gladiolus antholyzoides Gladiolus aquamontanus
Gladiolus arcuatus Gladiolus atroviolaceus Gladiolus aureus Gladiolus blandus
Gladiolus blommesteinii Gladiolus bonaspei Gladiolus brevifolius Gladiolus brevitubus
Gladiolus buckerveldii Gladiolus bullatus Gladiolus byzantinus Gladiolus caeruleus
Gladiolus callianthus Gladiolus cardinalis Gladiolus cardinalis hybrids Gladiolus carinatus
Gladiolus carmineus Gladiolus carneus Gladiolus caryophyllaceus Gladiolus cataractarum
Gladiolus ceresianus Gladiolus citrinus Gladiolus ×colvillei Gladiolus communis
Gladiolus comptonii Gladiolus crassifolius Gladiolus crispulatus Gladiolus cunonius
Gladiolus cylindraceus Gladiolus dalenii Gladiolus debilis Gladiolus delpierrei
Gladiolus densiflorus Gladiolus deserticola Gladiolus dolomiticus Gladiolus dubius
Gladiolus edulis Gladiolus ecklonii Gladiolus equitans Gladiolus exilis
Gladiolus flanaganii Gladiolus floribundus Gladiolus fourcadei Gladiolus geardii
Gladiolus gracilis Gladiolus grandiflorus Gladiolus griseus Gladiolus gueinzii
Gladiolus guthriei Gladiolus hirsutus Gladiolus hollandii Gladiolus huttonii
Gladiolus huttonii × tristis Gladiolus hyalinus Gladiolus illyricus Gladiolus imbricatus
Gladiolus inandensis Gladiolus inarimensis Gladiolus inflatus Gladiolus inflexus
Gladiolus insolens Gladiolus involutus Gladiolus italicus Gladiolus kamiesbergensis
Gladiolus karooicus Gladiolus liliaceus Gladiolus lithicola Gladiolus longicollis
Gladiolus loteniensis Gladiolus macneilii Gladiolus maculatus Gladiolus magnificus
Gladiolus marlothii Gladiolus martleyi Gladiolus meliusculus Gladiolus meridionalis
Gladiolus microcarpus Gladiolus miniatus Gladiolus monticola Gladiolus mortonius
Gladiolus mostertiae Gladiolus murielae Gladiolus mutabilis Gladiolus natalensis
Gladiolus nanus Gladiolus ochroleucus Gladiolus odoratus Gladiolus oppositiflorus
Gladiolus orchidiflorus Gladiolus overbergensis Gladiolus paludosus Gladiolus palustris
Gladiolus papilio Gladiolus pappei Gladiolus patersoniae Gladiolus permeabilis
Gladiolus pillansii Gladiolus phoenix Gladiolus priorii Gladiolus primulinus
Gladiolus pritzelii Gladiolus psittacinus Gladiolus pubigerus Gladiolus pugioniformis
Gladiolus pulcherrimus Gladiolus punctulatus Gladiolus quadrangularis Gladioulus quadrangulus
Gladiolus recurvus Gladiolus rehmannii Gladiolus rhodanthus Gladiolus robustus
Gladiolus rogersii Gladiolus roseovenosus Gladiolus rudis Gladiolus rufomarginatus
Gladiolus saccatus Gladiolus salmoneus Gladiolus salteri Gladiolus saundersii
Gladiolus saxatilis Gladiolus scabridus Gladiolus scullyi Gladiolus sekukuniensis
Gladiolus serpenticola Gladiolus speciosus Gladiolus splendens Gladiolus stefaniae
Gladiolus subcaeruleus Gladiolus taubertianus Gladiolus teretifolius Gladiolus tristis
Gladiolus trichonemifolius Gladiolus undulatus Gladiolus uysiae Gladiolus vaginatus
Gladiolus vandermerwei Gladiolus venustus Gladiolus vernus Gladiolus vinosomaculatus
Gladiolus violaceolineatus Gladiolus virescens Gladiolus viridiflorus Gladiolus watermeyeri
Gladiolus watsonioides Gladiolus watsonius Gladiolus wilsonii

More photos of representative species are shown below.

Gladiolus caryophyllaceus, Alan HorstmannGladiolus debilis, Cameron McMasterGladiolus orchidiflorus, Namaqualand, Bob RutemoellerGladiolus palustris, Jane McGaryGladiolus cunonius, Cameron McMasterGladiolus miniatus, Mary Sue Ittner

Southern African Gladiolus A-B - Southern African Gladiolus Ca - Southern African Gladiolus Ce-E - Southern African Gladiolus F-H - Southern African Gladiolus I-Me - Southern African Gladiolus Mi-Pa - Southern African Gladiolus Pe-R - Southern African Gladiolus S-T - Southern African Gladiolus U-Z - Gladiolus Hybrids - Miscellaneous Gladiolus

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Page last modified on December 29, 2015, at 02:12 PM