Gladioli, sword flowers

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The gladiolus (Gladiolus), also called Siegwurz, belongs to the family of the iris family (Iridaceae). There are more than 200 species of wild animals that are spread from southern Europe to Asia Minor to Africa. The species with the most magnificent flowers come from South Africa. In southern Germany, a single species is native to the marsh vine root (Gladiolus palustris). It is strictly protected because of their low occurrence - they are found only on a few locations on humid moorland meadows with humus rich, calcareous soil.

Appearance and growth

While the game species and forms rarely exceed 60 centimeters, the hybrids on good soil can reach heights of up to 150 centimeters. All gladioli have parallelnervige, sword-like leaves - hence the botanical genus name (lat. "Gladius" for sword) comes. They form as overwintering organs tubers, in which they retire after flowering. This allows them to survive in inhospitable habitats such as the South African steppe. The large flowers of the frost-sensitive tuber plants appear depending on the planting time from the end of June to September. They are in age-old inflorescences and are irregularly structured with only one vertical plane of symmetry. There are varieties in almost every flower color from white over green and yellow, orange, red, violet to smoke gray and brown.

Location and ground

Gladioli prefer a deep and well drained soil. The substrate should be fresh to slightly moist and very nutritious. On heavy, impermeable soils, a drainage layer of coarse sand is indispensable. In addition, they are true sun worshipers who should definitely get a sunny and sheltered spot in the garden.

Swamp Ivy (Gladiolus palustris)

The Swamp-Siegwurz (Gladiolus palustris) is the only native gladiolus in this country. It grows in southern Germany


Gladiolas are planted at the end of April at the earliest, so that the frost-sensitive shoots only come to the surface after the ice sacs. If you want earlier flowers, you can also prefer them in pots and plant them in the garden after the ice saints. Make sure that the soil layer above the tubers is at least twice as high as its diameter - only then are the vigorous flower stems sufficiently stable. To extend the flowering period, you can plant the tubers from end of April to late May at intervals of one week delayed. Note that, like rose plants, gladioli should only be planted in the same location every six years.

care Tips

Cut out withered inflorescences early to prevent seed formation. Since gladioli are in need of nutrients, you should sprinkle the planting areas with ripe compost and horn meal immediately after the tubers have been inserted.
Gladioli can be cut as soon as the first one or two flowers have opened. Be sure to leave four to five leaves on the stem to develop a new tuber.

Hibernation or winter protection

In the autumn after the first night frost, you dig out the tubers, free them from larger clods of earth and beat them with coarse sand in wooden boxes. A cool, frost-free cellar with high humidity is the ideal storage place for the winter.

Hibernate gladioli

The frost-sensitive gladioli must be dug up and stored before winter


Like the dahlias, gladioli are popular tuber plants that used to be ubiquitous in the cottage gardens. They can be integrated into any flower and perennial flowerbed, provided that the site is sunny and the soil is well drained. Due to their small footprint, they are also ideal for narrow plant strips on the house and on the terrace.
Depending on the preferred habitat, the game species feel well in the rock garden or in the swamp area of ​​the garden pond. Gladioli can also be integrated into modern prairie gardens, but here the small-flowered botanical species and varieties are to be preferred. Noble and butterfly gladioli can also be cultivated well in planters and are excellent cut flowers. Always plant gladioli in small and larger groups of 5 to 15 tubers. If possible, choose tone-on-tone combinations or opt for two matching flower colors, otherwise the bed will quickly become too colorful.

Gladioli as cut flowers

Gladioli are also very effective as cut flowers in vases

Important species and varieties

By crossing various wild species numerous garden hybrids have emerged, which are usually performed under the botanical name Gladiolus x hortulanus. One distinguishes the monochrome noble gladioli, the butterfly gladioli (also butterfly gladioli) with usually multi-colored blossoms as well as the baby and wild gladioli, which are predominantly small-sized, breeders little changed kinds and kinds.
A beautiful butterfly gladiolus is the variety 'Blackpool', which shows yellow flowers with red spots. 'Lady Godiva' is white with a green pattern. Of the small-sized varieties, which are each a maximum of 50 centimeters high, have 'Nymph' (white, spotted red), 'Guernsey Glory' (dark purple, red tips and white spots) and 'Atom' (red with white outline) proven.


Division is the simplest and most promising way to increase gladioli.Most varieties readily grow on loose soils daughter tubers, which are usually connected via short spurs with the mother tubers. It is easy to separate them when picking up the plants in autumn, planting the smaller tubers immediately in coarse-grained potting soil and cultivating them in a bright, frost-free place during the winter. The wild species can also be multiplied by seeds - but it takes a few years until they flower for the first time.

Diseases and pests

Gladioli are prone to tuberous and stem rot particularly on heavy, wet soils and in wet and cold weather, caused by various pathogens such as Fusarium and Sclerotina. Certain bacteria can also trigger these diseases. Leaf spot diseases also occur. Gladiolus experts recommend immediately removing infested plants and subjecting the other tubers to half an hour of hot water treatment at 53 degrees Celsius to kill potential pathogens. Then put them in cold water for a few minutes and let them dry well until storage.

Video Board: Growing Gladiolus from Bulbs or Corms this Winter - 100% Success Results Timelapse.

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