Gladioli, the happiest bulbous | Gardening On

If you want to have a plant that welcomes you to the most colorful season of the year, spring, gladioli are one of the most recommended. Native to South Africa, they produce flowers in clusters that they are so cheerful and colorful that they can be used to decorate any corner.

If you love tall bulbous plants, gladioli are sure to be your pleasure .

What are gladioli like?

Gladiolus flower detail

Our protagonists they are perennial and bulbous plants originating in the Mediterranean region, Asia, tropical Africa and South Africa. The genus, Gladiolus, is made up of about 250 species, of which 163 are native to southern Africa, 10 from Europe and Asia, 9 from Madagascar and the rest from tropical Africa. To these species we must also add the numerous cultivars that have been created over the years, so we could be talking about more than 1000 types of gladioli, between natural and created by man by cross pollination.

These plants They can reach a height of between 30 centimeters to one and a half meterswith green leaves that sprout from an underground organ called the corm. The flowers are grouped in inflorescences and are zygomorphic, as well as hermaphrodite and of very different colors: yellow, orange, red, pink, bi or multicolored. The fruit is a dry 3-shell capsule.

After flowering, both the floral stem, the flowers and the leaves dry out, leaving only the fruits if it has produced them, and the corm, which will keep the plant alive thanks to the nutrients that its roots have been absorbing during the vegetative period, that is, of growth.

Types of Gladioli

The best known are:

The common gladioli

View of the Gladiolus communis

It is a species native to North Africa, Western Asia and southern Europe that reaches a height of up to 1 meter. Produces lovely, pinkish flowers.

Italian gladiolus

View of the Gladiolus italicus

It is believed to be native to Eurasia, although elsewhere it is a common weed. It grows up to a meter in height, with pink flowers.

Gladiolus murielae

View of the Gladiolus murielae

It is a plant native to East Africa that reaches a height of 70 to 100 centimeters. Produces white flowers star shaped.

Types of gladiolus cultivars

In order to classify them, four types of hybrid groups were created:

  • Big flower: they are good-sized plants, between 90 and 150cm, with triangular flowers 6 to 18cm wide. In turn, those with giant flowers are distinguished, which are those that measure more than 14cm wide, and the miniature ones, with flowers less than 6cm.
  • primulinus: they are plants that measure between 45 and 90cm in height, with flower stalks made up of up to 20 flowers, which measure a maximum of 8cm.
  • Butterfly or nanus: they are plants that measure between 60 and 90cm in height, with small flowers of 4 to 8cm.
  • Wild species: clones that have been selected directly from natural species are grouped here.

Does white gladiolus exist?

White gladiolus flowers

Of course. They are beautiful inflorescences that represent human purity and innocence. They are perfect to give to children, or to a special loved one.

What care do they require?

Red gladiolus

Gladioli are plants that are not demanding at all. They can grow both in pot and in the garden, as long as they are in a sunny exhibition. However, to produce a good amount of flowers, we recommend that you follow these tips:


To be able to grow and flourish need to be exposed to direct sunlightideally throughout the day. They do not adapt to semi-shaded areas.


Irrigation frequency it has to be frequentbut avoiding waterlogging. It is best to check the humidity of the soil or substrate before watering, such as inserting a thin wooden stick all the way to the bottom to see how much soil has adhered to it (if it has come out practically clean, it will be necessary to water them) or using a digital moisture meter.

Irrigation water must be rain or lime free. If you cannot get it, you can fill a bucket with water, let it sit overnight and use the one in the upper half of the container the next day, which is the one with the least amount of heavy metals.

If you have a plate under them, you have to remove the water that is left over ten minutes after watering.

Soil or substrate

Gladioli they are not demanding as long as the land they grow up in has good sewer system. If you are going to have them in a pot, it is highly advisable to mix universal growing medium with perlite in equal parts, and also put a first layer of arlite expanded so that excess water can flow out faster. In this way, the roots will not be in contact with the liquid for too long and, therefore, there will be no risk of rotting or fungi appearing.


During the entire flowering season they should be fertilized with a specific fertilizer for bulbous plants. that you will find for sale in nurseries and garden stores.

Planting time

Whether you want to have them in a pot or in the garden, you should plant the bulbs in late winter or early spring.

How are gladioli planted?

For them to flourish you must plant the bulb with the narrowest part facing upsince the base of the wide part is where the roots will sprout. Once you know this, you should bury it at a depth that is twice what it measures from the base to the tip. Thus, if for example it is about 2cm high, you will have to bury it no more than 4cm.

You have to leave a distance of 10 centimeters between rows, and 5 centimeters between bulbs. When it is, give them a good watering.


View of gladiolus

It’s not necesary. It will be enough to remove the withered inflorescences from them.

Plagues and diseases


  • Aphids: they are very small insects, less than 0,5cm in length. They can be green, brown, or yellow. They feed on the sap of the leaves and, above all, of the flowers. They are fought with Chlorpyrifos.
  • Trips: they are black sucking insects similar to earwigs, but in a mini version. They feed on the sap of leaves and flowers. It can be removed with Dimethoate.


  • Botrytis: it is a fungus that affects especially at the end of the vegetative season of gladioli. It causes a kind of gray powder to appear on the leaves. In severe cases, the corm can rot. It can be treated by dusting the soil with Procimidone or Tiram.
  • curvularia gladioli: affects the corms, which are necrotic. It is treated the same as Botrytis.
  • Stromatiniosis: it is a disease that manifests itself on the leaves, which turn yellow as the base of the stem rots. It can be prevented and treated in the same way as Botrytis.
  • fusarium: is a fungus that affects all parts of gladioli. The leaves turn yellow, they do not produce as many flowers, and the corms become rotten. It can be treated in the same way as Botrytis.
  • Roya– Reddish or orange circular spots appear on the leaves in spring or fall. It can be treated with Triforin 19%, at a dose of 0,10%.
  • VirusThere are up to a total of fifteen viruses that can affect these plants, but there are two that are especially important: the yellow bean mosaic virus (or BYMV) and the cucumber mosaic virus (CMV). its acronym in English). The most common symptom is discoloration of leaves and flowers. Unfortunately, there is no effective treatment, but it can be prevented by keeping the plants fertilized and well watered.


Corms can be divided in fall or spring. They are separated from the main corm and are planted in other pots with growing substrate mixed with perlite in equal parts, or in other corners of the garden.

What are they used for?

Gladiolus are plants with a high ornamental value, so they are planted both in pots and in gardens to brighten up sunny corners during the summer. Also, the flowers can be used as a cut flower.

Where to buy gladioli?

You can get them from here:

What do you think?

Gladioli, the happiest bulbous | Gardening On

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