Growing Gladioli – The Gladiolus

In his book, Popular Garden Flowers, published by Grant Richards Ltd. In 1911, Walter Wright, perhaps the greatest authority on garden flowers at the beginning of the twentieth century, writes:

‘However great our enthusiasm for the gladiolus . . . we have to acknowledge that it can hardly be classed as one of the great flowers of the people.’

Obviously the impact of the discovery of the primulinus race of the gladioli, discovered close to the Victoria Falls in 1902, and which brought about a revolution in hybridizing the gladiolus, had not by 1911 made its presence felt. The discovery of the Primulinus gladiolus may be said to have revolutionized the flower until it may safely be said that the gladiolus has made greater headway with flower lovers than perhaps any other flower. Certainly the Dutch bulb growers now state that they Gladioli growingraise and sell more gladioli corms than corms or bulbs of any other flower and this includes the vast narcissus group. The gladiolus, too, has become internationally popular, as witness the large number of entries at the Annual Show of the British Gladiolus Society, which come from all parts of the world, with hybridists in Canada and New Zealand perhaps leading the field with new varieties of exhibition standard. To-day the gladiolus is a florists’ flower in the true sense – the colour range cannot be compared with that of any other flower, while the great improvement in size and quality of the individual florets must be beyond the imagination of the early twentieth-century gardeners.

Main Groupings

The modern gladiolus may be divided into four distinct groups.

(a) The Colvillei Section, used for early flowering under glass.

(b) The large-flowered section, the result of combining various distinct strains.

(c) The primulinus group which for the first time opened up the way for introducing the yellow colouring into the large-flowered section – and

(d) The new miniature and butterfly gladioli which of recent years have given the gladiolus an even greater popularity than it was enjoying prior to their introduction. This is an era of the small garden and these are plants which possess the magnificent colouring of their larger-flowering brothers, added to which is a daintiness of flower and habit which makes them the ideal small-garden flower.

Each section is most suitable for cutting and the appreciation of flowers in the home, which compensates for our restricted gardens and has contributed greatly towards the present popularity of the flower.

For cultural purposes we may make only two divisions, Section A, the indoor-flowering gladioli – and Sections B, C, and D, which are outdoor-flowering and which are all given much the same culture. It must, however, be said that the Colvillei group will bloom well in a sheltered border in favourable districts of the south if the corms are planted in autumn


Growing to a height of only 18 in. and flowering during March, these dainty plants require almost the same treatment as freesias, and like freesias they must be grown in light. They will never grow to perfection as will hyacinths and tulips in partial shade. Again, like freesias they must be given no water until growth appears. The corms are most inexpensive and are best planted late in August, my method being to set the corms in 48-size pots 2-in. Deep, placing three to each pot. Use an acid-free soil for gladioli do not like acid conditions. If in doubt, add a handful of lime rubble to each pot and the same amount of peat or decayed mushroom-bed manure, and some sand.

The pots are then removed to a plunge bed, under a wall is ideal, where the pots are covered with 4 in. of sand or weathered ashes and there they remain, covered with corrugated sheets or frame lights until early January. Very gentle forcing only is required, a temperature of 50 F. being suitable and very careful attention must be given to watering, giving only the minimum to keep the soil in a just moist condition. If there is any doubt about the greenhouse having sufficient light in midwinter it is better to leave the pots in the outdoor beds until mid-February when light conditions are better. In any case, to provide a succession of bloom it is better to bring the pots indoors at fortnightly intervals. The blooms may need some support which should be provided by means of thin canes tied with raffia.


  • Colvillei, The Bride. This is perhaps the purest white flower in cultivation, for not only are the petals pure white, so are the anthers.
  • Colvillei rubra. Richest carmine-red, a grand companion to The Bride.
  • Nanus, Amanda Mahy. This is a bright salmon-red-flowering species, which produces a spike of but 12 in. long. It is valuable in that it may be planted early October both in a sheltered position in the open and in small pots for indoor flowering in May. The corms may be grown on entirely in a cold frame. Outdoors it blooms from mid-June and is so useful for bridging the gap between the early Colvillei flowering and the earliest of the summer-flowering gladioli which come into bloom in July.
  • Nanus, Spitfire. Bears a bloom of rich scarlet with crimson markings.


The gladiolus is one of the easiest of all plants to grow well and provided the soil has been well dug and thoroughly cleaned, the corms will bloom to perfection. They do enjoy a soil which has been previously manured for a crop of peas or potatoes, for they should not be given any manure which is too rich in nitrogen. This will cause the spike to become too tall and soft and the flowers will lack the much-desired brightness of colour.

The exhibitor will go to any lengths in the preparations of his soil, but for the amateur and for the grower who wishes to grow gladioli on a commercial scale, a well-prepared soil that is in no way sour is all that is necessary. By a well-prepared soil is meant one manured for a previous year’s crop and with which is incorporated some additional humus-forming materials, for this is what the gladiolus revels in. Spent hops, peat, old mushroom-bed manure, decayed leaves, all are suitable and should be forked in during March, the ground having been dug and allowed to weather over winter. The often sour soil of a town garden should have a light dressing with lime. At planting-time, a 2-oz. per square yard dressing with bone meal and liberal quantities of bonfire-ash raked in will supply the slow-acting fertilizers and the much-needed potash to build up sturdy growth and enhance the colour of the blooms.

The gladiolus is not particular as to whether the soil is light and sandy or of a clay nature. I have grown exhibition quality spikes in all soils, but what the plant does require is a soil that is well drained. A cold, wet soil will never grow good gladioli, the corms may even rot away before root action commences and those that do grow will be extremely late in flowering. Should the soil be heavy, it will be better to plant the corms in wide trenches, at the bottom of which should be placed a 3-in, layer of ashes or sand. The soil preparation should be done in autumn or early winter to allow for a firm bed at planting-time. If the ground is of an impoverished nature and some rotted manure is available this should be incorporated with the lower soil for the corms should never be allowed to come into direct contact with manure though humus is another matter.

Equally important as the preparation of the soil, is situation, for it must be remembered that gladioli grow to a height of anything up to 4 ft., and even the more dwarf primulinus and miniatures may be seriously damaged by winds especially when the stems are heavy with fully opened blooms. Delightful as they are in a mixed border, I feel that gladioli are at their best when planted in beds to themselves, for here they may be given the culture they deserve, and the brilliance of their blooms may be seen without any distractions. But in this way they must be given protection against strong winds and they are essentially lovers of the sun. Give them a southerly aspect and ample protection against the prevailing winds. A substantial hedge or wattle hurdles are ideal and with this protection it is possible to grow gladioli by the acre without the additional labour of individual staking.


For early blooms, those situated in the favourable districts of the south-west may plant any time from March 1st. In the south Midlands planting may be done at the end of March and in the colder north, early April is soon enough. It is important to allow the ground time in which to become warm and should the warm spring weather be long delayed it will be far better to wait a week or so longer than the usual planting-time. Corms, bulbs or seeds which are in soil too cold to allow any root growth will be better left in their containers. Again, it is a debated point as to whether the gladiolus is perfectly hardy and growth should not be too advanced whilst hard frost is likely to be experienced.

Planting should be done to provide a succession of bloom, though it must be remembered that the varieties themselves will naturally bloom at various times and in a cold exposed position it will be advisable to plant early and quick-maturing varieties. This is far more important than generally realized. For instance, the new small-flowered variety, Scotia, a lovely yellow with peach markings, will take up to a hundred days to reach maturity, compared with only eighty days taken by the lovely ruffled miniature variety Statuette. Should it not be suitable for planting the corms before mid-April, it will mean that Scotia may not be in bloom until August and in the cold, wet summer of 2002 it was September before it flowered in my exposed garden, when the blooms were little appreciated in the cold, wet autumn. Where planting can be done early in March the variety matters little, but those with exposed gardens would be advised to concentrate on early and mid-season varieties.

The size of the corm is a matter for consideration. The medium-sized high-crowned corm is the best and will produce a larger spike and of better quality than a flat, but possibly larger corm. Not all varieties produce the same sized corm and a 10-12 cm. corm of some varieties may give as good a flower spike as x 1-14 cm. corms of some other varieties. Like the very large-sized anemone corms which have become acclimatized to the soil and climate in which they were grown for so long, I believe that the 14-16 cm. Gladioli corms have passed their most vigorous best, and for an exhibition spike, the 12-14 cm. size is most suitable. The cut-flower grower, growing for a market that is not quite up to the best standards, will find the 8-1 o cm. size quite suitable, though for a top-quality market spike the 10-12 cm. size is the best. The corms will cost about one-third more than for the smaller size, but prices obtained for the bloom will more than compensate. Again, if growing on for a second season, the 10-12 cm. size is a necessity for after cutting the spikes, even if several leaves are allowed to remain, the corm will produce a smaller spike in its second season. If in the first place the 8-10 cm. Corm is used the spike produced the following season will be of no use for marketing. However, it must be remembered that certain varieties will produce a larger spike from the same sized corm as others.

The corm should be firm at the top when gently pressed with the fingers and it should not show any blemishes, neither should it be blackish brown in appearance or it may signify `fusarium yellow’ disease.

By far the best way of planting seems to be in trenches, for here the ground may be given more concentrated attention and staking and cutting may be more easily carried out. As the gladiolus is essentially a cut flower, the beds should be of sufficient width to make cutting as easy as possible and trenches 2 ft. wide are sug gested. Again and even more important, if the same distance is allowed between the beds or trenches, this ground can be used in alternate years so that the corms are not grown on the same soil for two successive years.

Plant the corms with a trowel or spade but never with a dibber, for no cavity must be allowed beneath the base where the roots are produced. When planting in trenches a popular method is to remove a 4-inch depth of soil with a spade and to ‘set’ the corms rather than to ‘plant’ them. I think 4 in. is the correct planting depth on a heavy loam, but so as to give greater support to the spike, those corms being planted into a light sandy soil are best planted 5-6 in. deep. Also in soil which tends to be of a wet nature, slightly shallower planting will be advised.

Should the weather be unduly dry at planting-time, it is vital to water the ground, for the base of the corms will tend to rot away if root action is delayed.

On ground that is well drained the trench bed system is to be recommended in preference to the more popular idea of planting in raised beds for not only is watering more effective in dry weather, but it is possible to earth-up the plants as top growth takes place – or a soil and peat mulch may be given around the plants. This will not only assist the plants during dry weather but more important, it may do away with any need to stake the plants, especially in the case of the smaller-flowering varieties. The corms may be planted anything up to 12 in. apart. The commercial growers will plant in beds with a pathway between each and the corms will be set no more than 6 in. apart. In this way they will support each other and if earthed-up, little or no staking will be necessary.

When planting in mixed borders, it is preferable to plant about 9 in. apart in groups of four. The flower spikes may then be supported by tying green twine around the clump and if in a sheltered position it may then be possible to do away with a stake. If growing in a position which will be swept by winds, beds of gladioli should be supported by extending twine along the rows fastened to stout stakes at each end and at every six feet. The exhibitor will stake every individual spike, which will take away the charm of the flower whilst in the garden, but the exhibitor is only concerned about how the spike will look on the show bench and gives no thought to the plant for providing colour in the garden, or when used for indoor floral display.

Planting the corms directly on to a layer of sand is often recommended, but I have never found this method necessary except on a very heavy, wet soil which may not grow good gladioli even with the sand.


Corms planted early in April will appear above the soil at the end of the month, but they will require no attention until about June 1st when the first earthing-up may be necessary and spraying once each week with a weak solution of potassium permanganate which will make the leaves bitter and so keep off fly attacks. Then as soon as the first sign of buds appears, which is apparent when the stem appears swollen, generally about mid to late June, gentle feeding should be commenced.

This is the most vital stage in the life of the gladiolus, for on it depends not only length of stem and quality of the bloom, but also the vigour of the corm for next season and the formation of the cormlets for growing on. As it is necessary to provide the cormlets with both nitrogen and phosphates, this is best provided as diluted animal-manure water, made by dissolving poultry, pig, sheep or horse droppings by suspending the droppings in a bag into a barrel or tank of water.

Bearing in mind that it is far better to provide the corms with a continuous supply of dilute fertilizer rather than an occasional concentrated feed, the manure water should be used once a week. An excellent method of applying this is to make with the back of a rake, a drill 2-in. Deep on either side of the bed or trench and to pour the manure water into the drills It will gradually find its way to the corms.

Gladioli also love soot water which may be given once a month or even alternate fortnights in addition to the liquid manure. It cannot be stated too often that feeding should continue until long after the flower spike has been removed, right into early autumn so that the old corm will be built up for the following season’s flowering and the cormlets will continue to make growth.

The corms will appreciate a mulch of peat or hop manure during late June for though the gladiolus enjoys a position of full sun, it will not tolerate a soil which is too dry. In fact, during a dry period and especially if the soil does not contain much humus, regular soaking in addition to the manure water application is essential to the formation of a first-class spike and good spawn growth.


The gladiolus is one of the most profitable of all flowers under barn-type cloches or Ganwicks. It is a flower that t oes well under glass, but it makes such rapid growth that though an early flower spike will make a good price a spike which makes too much early growth and which necessitates the removal of the glass cover before the often cold, frosty and windy May weather has departed, may be spoilt because of its earliness. So cloching and planting is not advised before mid-March, so that the coverings may be removed towards the end of May.

The trench method is most suitable, made to the width of the glass to be used and dug about jo in. deep. It should be prepared as described but 3 in. from the top of the trench should be left which will allow the flower stems to make the maximum growth whilst still covered with the cloches. The corms should therefore be planted 6 in. below the top of the trench, being 3 in. deep in the soil. Plant in rows allowing 6 in. between each corm. Closer planting is not advised for mildew might prove troublesome. It is advisable to prepare the trench during early winter to allow time for consolidation and the cloches should be placed over the trenches at the end of February to allow the soil to warm up before planting the corms. Feeding with liquid manure and soot water should continue from mid-May and as soon as the cloches are removed the top 3 in. of soil should be filled in to give the plants extra support, peat or hop manure being mixed with soil for this purpose which also acts as a mulch.


The flower spike will be ready for cutting for market and indoor decoration as soon as the first or lower floret has fully opened and the others will be showing colour. The top blooms will then open gradually in water and give pleasure over a long period. The spikes will also pack and transport with the minimum of bruising. When cutting, leave as many leaves as possible, two being a minimum, four if possible, so that the corms may be nourished for future use. The flower stems should not be broken, but cleanly severed with a sharp knife or scissors. Market bunches are generally of six spikes, which should be tied with raffia just under the open lower bloom and again at the bottom of the stem to make them secure. It is advisable to stand the stems in cold water for several hours before boxing or marketing.

Gladioli used in the home will remain in a fresh condition for a greater period if half an inch of stem is cut off every three days and fresh water provided.


Though the gladiolus is not difficult to grow from seed, named varieties may only be increased by growing on the tiny corms or spawn to be found clustered at the base of the old corms when lifted in October. Some varieties are fairly shy with their cormlet production, others produce spawn in abundance, the shy varieties remaining more expensive even though they may be long-established varieties. During the course of a growing season the gladiolus produces a completely new corm, perhaps two, immediately above the corm originally planted which will have withered away entirely. Upon lifting, the decayed corm should be removed and burnt. The cormlets, varying in size from little more than pinheads to small corms will be found clustered round the base of the newly formed corm. Every one, however small, will be carefully removed, for all will eventually grow into flowering-sized corms. The very smallest will take up to three years to attain flowering size, those which are larger will bloom in two years. This being the case it is advisable to segregate them in two sections, using clean paper bags in which are punched several air holes to store them during winter, having removed all soil particles at lifting-time.

The cormlets are grown on in beds, the soil first being brought to a fine tilth with the back of the head of a rake – drills 1 in. deep are made 6 in. apart and along each is sprinkled a mixture of peat and some coarse sand. The cormlets are then dropped into the drills in the same way as for planting peas, early April being the most suitable time. A position of full sun is advisable and it is essential to keep the ground free from weeds. Neither must the corms be allowed to suffer from lack of moisture. An aid to germination is to place the cormlets in a warm room for a fortnight before planting out and to immerse them in cold water the night previous to planting. So that they may be handled easily, they should be taken from the water an hour before required for planting and partially dried off in a warm room. They must not be allowed to flower during their stay in the seed bed, as all their energies must be reserved for the formation of a substantial corm. The corms should be fed with dilute liquid animal-manure water during August and September and they are lifted and stored in early October in the same way as for mature corms.


During May 2001, much interesting correspondence appeared in Amateur Gardening about the hardiness of the gladiolus corm, several correspondents writing to say that during the severe winters of 1998 and 1999, corms that were lifted and stored in a supposedly frost-proof room suffered tremendous losses, while a number inadvertently left in the ground came though the winter unharmed.

In the south-west country, I have frequently allowed corms under barn cloches to remain in the ground throughout the winter, giving them no other attention than the removal of the yellow leaves late in October, followed by a heavy peat mulch. The corms are covered with the cloches early in December, and where time is limited, this method may be recommended. Those living in the north and Midlands would be advised to lift the corms by mid-October, as soon as the foliage appears to be turning yellow. My own method is to remove the cormlets and as much soil as possible, then to string up the corms in separate varieties in a dry, airy room for three weeks before cutting away the foliage and placing the corms, cleaned of all soil, into wooden trays, stacked above each other in a frost-proof room. It is not advisable to keep the corms near to hot-water pipes or a stove, for they may shrivel. This particularly applies to the cormlets which, if allowed to become dry and hard like peas, may take many weeks to sprout when planted out in April, which will mean that they may take considerably longer to attain flowering-size corms.

If a frost-proof room cannot be provided, then it may be safer to leave the corms in the ground and to cover them with a heavy mulch of peat or decayed leaves and some straw.

Care should be taken in lifting so as not to bruise the corms or lose the cormlets. With many of the new introductions likely to remain expensive for many years, it is suggested that far more attention should be given to rearing the cormlets, as the work is interesting and will mean a great saving financially.


Fusarium Rot. Gladioli are relatively free from diseases, but the rotting of the corms during storage caused by this disease must account for considerable losses each year. The fungus, fusarium oxysporium, attacks the corm from the roots, causing the leaves to turn prematurely yellow and the flower spike to be stunted. If the corm is cut open it will be found to be in a rotten condition, but in many cases no sign of this condition can be detected on the outside of the corm, until it has been kept over winter. A dry atmosphere for storage will do much to keep the trouble under control. Some varieties such as Picardy and Puccini are highly resistant and for this reason should be used more frequently in the introduction of new varieties. Some control will also be achieved in rotational cropping and in the regular sorting of all corms once each month throughout the winter, but since it attacks the corms from the inside control by the use of any chemicals is impossible when once the fungus is present.

Septaria. This is the ‘hard rot’ disease of gladioli which may attack a whole batch of corms in storage. The disease does not attack the core of the corm as does Fusarium Rot, only does it affect the outside of the corm in the form of reddish patches and though it does not appear to be the direct cause of the corm’s collapse, its presence will open up the corm for the entry of the dreaded Fusarium disease. Septaria is generally present on the fresh foliage of plants growing in the warm, moist climate of the south-west. Apart from rotation of cropping, the foliage should be regularly sprayed with Bordeaux Mixture, when the brown blotches are observed on the leaves. Dipping the corms for an hour just before planting in a o.I per cent solution of mercuric chloride, a deadly poison which should not be used when there are children about, will control the disease.

Thrips. This is a pest which attacks all parts of the gladiolus, particularly the leaves, causing them to turn brown. But the most serious aspect is in the ability of the pests to work their way into the corms and to feed on them during winter storage. Where they have made their presence felt, corm infestation may be reduced by removing the foliage completely before the corms are lifted. A more thorough control may be achieved by dusting the corms with napthalene as soon as they are set out in the trays, covering them with old sacking or newspaper to retain the fumes. The napthalene should be used at the rate of 1 oz. for every loo corms and is perfectly safe to use – or a dusting at monthly intervals with 5 per cent D.D.T. Will also ensure partial control.


Large Flowering Varieties.

Early Flowering

Adorable. The sulphur-cream floret is slightly ruffled and has an amber-cream blotch in the throat. When in bud it has a slight greenish sheen. Eight florets open at one time, with a total of twenty on an extremely strong stem.

Cardinal de Jong. A good rich purple, darkly flecked and showing in the throat a splash of white which extends in a pencilling along the tongue and on the fringes of two lower petals. Exceedingly rich in colour and of rare charm.

Gold Dust. Golden yellow, many florets open at the same time – magnificent variety, which produces a strong stalk on which the blooms are nicely arranged. Very effective if planted in large groups against a green background.

Golden Show. A very remarkable variety on account of its perfectly formed spike – most charming golden primrose flowers of dainty colouring. A group of Golden Show against a background of evergreens creates a delightful picture.

Lavender Dream. The delightful shade of lavender-blue and its white throat make this outstanding variety specially attractive, its nicely formed florets and perfect carriage adding to its beauty and distinction. A gladiolus that will greatly please all who grow it.

Maria Goretti. This exceptional variety surpasses all others in form, size and stature. The purity of its whiteness and the perfection of its large blooms give it a charm and beauty combined with stately dignity not possessed by any other. A plant in flower is a picture of its own and will be admired for its serene loveliness.

Maureen Gardner. Stately, clear grey-white, loosely flecked with purple, an arresting smudge of biscuit lightly dusted with purple on the tongues of two lower petals, magenta throat, violet anthers. A master gladiolus of very delicate character and extreme loveliness which instantly appeals. Ideal in every respect for exhibition, garden and cutting.

Memorial Day. This outstanding and distinct variety may be regarded as an improved Paul Rubens, the colour being cyclamen purple on a smoky underground. Enormous spike with six to eight florets open at the same time, of perfect form and excellent substance. A wonderful gladiolus which undoubtedly has a great future.

Mignon. This has a sturdy spike of excellent form, each flower facing forward and held firmly on the stem. Blooms are pinkish mauve, mostly pink at the top of the petals. The tongue has a sword of rich orchid mauve and feathers of a lighter tone, leading into the mauve throat.

Orange King. A very noble flower of exceptional texture and refined quality, the wonderful colour is a lovely warm orange with mauve blotch on base petals, the whole plant is of ideal stature. A most handsome variety of good substance and perfect growth.

Pactolus. Daffodil yellow with a broad vermilion and deep crimson tongue on two lower petals. Lovely variety of outstanding colour, the beautifully formed florets are well arranged along the slender stem, producing a graceful spike of particular elegance.

Paul Rubens. A distinct variety of a very unusual colour, but nevertheless very beautiful – reddish violet with a pronounced smoky underground and carmine-red blotches. Stems and poise are superb, eight to ten flowers open at one time. A grand garden variety and most useful for decorative purposes, producing a striking contrast against other shades.

Poppy Day. A very choice gladiolus of singular beauty, colour radiant scarlet of great intensity, white line on lower petal – produces a large tall spike with seven to eight perfectly formed open florets, prettily ruffled and nicely arranged on the strong erect stem. A variety of great merit which will make an indescribably gay display in the garden.

Snow Princess. A white gladiolus, greenish in bud, which distinguishes itself for size and form. Colour, milky white with tinge of green down the throat. Very strong spike, often 2 ft. in length bearing up to twenty florets.

Vincent van Gogh. Brilliant red with salmon glow and a blotch of somewhat softer colour down the throat. A flower of unequalled beauty with no tendency to fade, a grand exhibition variety and a garden plant of singular grace.

Mid-season Flowering

Abu Hassan. A magnificent violet-blue gladiolus, being a decided improvement on existing varieties of this colour, many flowers opening at the same time, each being perfectly arranged, on a good stem. A strong, healthy grower, makes an excellent garden plant.

Aranjue. Extremely lovely flowers of a very soft orange colouring, shading to apricot down the throat. A strong-growing variety of delicate beauty, will be admired as a garden plant and aS a cut flower.

Bernadotte. Clear white with bright scarlet tongue on three lower petals, dark throat. Most pleasing, wherever used its extraordinary beauty commands instant admiration. Produces a magnificent spike of ideal stature.

Cardinal Spellman. Light violet-purple, a most distinct and rich-coloured variety with exceptionally beautiful open florets of ideal form, gracefully arranged on a strong stem.

Circe. Clear glowing tangerine, deep crimson streak behind a light throat, decisive light pencilling down the centre of each petal and numerous precise streaks of crimson against a sharp cream tongue on one lower petal. A superb variety with a perfection of form and finish hardly approached by any other.

Diamond. An exquisite beautiful flower of delicate colour, tea-rose yellow with orange-yellow suffusion on the tongue of two lower petals, and red markings in the throat. Produces a very strong, straight spike, well adapted for mass planting.

Doctor Fleming. Clear, rose-pink with shell-pink glow on the tongue of one or two lower petals, turning faintly cream in the throat where there are four touches of crimson – flowers of excellent substance are produced on a tall strong stem. A gladiolus of attractive colouring.

Bridge. An all-blue gladiolus of exceptional merit, most unusual and valuable variety, colour a beautiful even tone of pale mauve-blue, slightly darker in the throat. Produces a medium-sized graceful spike, its nicely formed florets and perfect carriage adding to its beauty and distinction.

Flying Wing. Pure white, shading to a slight glow of lemon in centre, a handsome flower, florets beautifully arranged on the elegant stem.

Frans Hals. Deep rust-orange with a heavy brown fleck and a fringe of violet, cream splash against a halo of scarlet on one or two lower petals. Makes a grand display in the garden and will prove an exhibition variety of the first order.

General Eisenhower. A glorious rose-pink of lovely form and perfect carriage. This novel variety is considered the choicest in its class. For colour and perfection of texture it has no equal. Will be admired as a garden plant and as a cut flower.

Grysaard. A first-class gladiolus of a most unusual colour, the large florets of perfect formation are of a warm peach in the throat, gradually merging into a French grey towards the edges of the petals. A strong healthy grower, excellent garden plant.

Harry Hopkins. This gladiolus is generally regarded as one of the choicest in its colour, and being an exceptionally beautiful wine red, six to eight florets. Ideal in shape and texture, on a sturdy stem, producing a glorious effect wherever planted.

Hawaii. Rich glowing blood-red with a sheen of richer crimson on the tongue of the lower petals. Extremely beautiful and impressive colour, a garden plant of distinction which blooms so well in exposed districts.

Henri de Greeve. This glorious gladiolus may be regarded as the royal representative of this popular family – very large flowers of a warm apricot-orange colour, seven to eight opening at a time, on a tall straight stem. Extremely magnificent stature.

Ivory Sword. Ivory white with light creamy tongue on two lower petals, faint touches of purple in the throat, the lovely florets are gracefully set along the straight stem. In every respect ideal as a garden plant, very showy in the border.

Kaleidoscope. A vivid jumble of salmon-pink with flecks of purple, deep salmon and vermilion. The yellow tongues are overlaid with a dusting of salmon and purple, dark throat. It has a grace all its own, produces a striking effect in the garden and at home on the table.

Mabel Violet. Clear royal purple, showing a black throat with a dusting of cream. A warm-toned and distinctive gladiolus of supreme quality. One of the most beautiful varieties in its colour class.

Mansoer. An exceptionally beautiful and distinct gladiolus, dark mahogany red with velvet sheen. This very handsome variety possesses all the good qualities one likes to see and may be successfully used for mass effects in beds and borders.

Menelik. Very dark purple-red flowers with velvet sheen, a remarkable but unusual colour. The beautifully formed flowers are very regularly placed on an erect stem – a mid-season bloomer of distinction.

Naples. An extremely rich yellow, the tongues having a slightly darker buttercup colour – four stiff flowers out at a time. Throat flecked with crimson.

Oriental Splendour. A striking gladiolus with smoothly cut petals of burnt sienna, feathered all over with cream streaks. The tongue has a sword of cream and the throat is cream with a circle of red-brown. Medium-large flowers are set firmly on the stem.

Patricia Roc. A magnificent flower of refined beauty and charming colour, bluish lavender with purple-blue blotch on base petals. It has a particular character and may be regarded as a valuable asset to its colour class. A superb variety in every respect, lovely cut flower, fine garden plant.

Pfitzer’s Sensation. Deep violet-blue which surpasses any of the ‘blues’ now in cultivation. It has no markings on the petals.

Polygoon. Deep lemon-cream, showing a deep salmon and crimson tongue against a halo of pure yellow on two lower petals. Produces an extremely beautiful long spike of solid texture and refined quality.

Professor Goudriaan. Clear creamy white with deeper cream in throat where there is also a touch of crimson. Tall with large flowers, a grand exhibition variety and a perfect garden plant of strong, healthy growth.

Puccini. Fuchsia-purple, showing a glow of crimson against a glow of violet on the tongues of two lower petals, green throat. Enormous spike of superb quality. A healthy and sturdy grower, well adapted for all garden purposes.

Ravel. Undoubtedly the best blue gladiolus yet produced, being pale blue with mauve blotch on lower petals – six flowers open at a time which are of good substance and noble form and well placed on a tall erect stem. A grand variety suitable for all purposes.

Red Signal. Words cannot describe the beauty of this lovely variety, intense fiery red, uniform in colour throughout, of a purity which is seldom seen in any gladiolus – seven to eight flowers open at a time and are gracefully arranged on the rigid stem forming a grand spike of graceful habit.

Sans Souci. Fiery scarlet-red with a clear yellow streak down the centre of the lower petal – a delightful variety of wonderful charm, flowers of excellent substance, perfectly set on the tall straight stem. Remarkably showy and effective variety which will produce a gorgeous effect.

Sapphire. Clear purple with a grey misty look. Evenly coloured throughout. Slight red-purple specks in the throat, medium-sized flowers five open at one time.

Scarlet Leader. Brilliant vermilion over the whole of the flower with an almost black throat. Wonderful gladiolus with a velvet bloom over the whole spike. Medium-large flowers. A superb variety for exhibition.

Skymaster. Pale peach-pink with golden yellow shading in the throat, base petal with faint red tinge – an extremely beautiful gladiolus of exquisite and gentle grace with a most glorious hue. For purity of colour and perfection of texture it has no equal. Apart from being very lovely as a cut flower, it displays an effect of unusual charm in the garden.

Tivoli. A gentle colour of peach shading to shell-pink. Petals are cream and the tongues’ butter yellow fans lead to the cream throat. The medium-large flowers tend to face sideways.

Uhu. General effect is of light purple and salmon, freely flecked, but the tongue on one lower petal being deep cream, delicately pencilled with four strokes of crimson, light fawn throat. An extremely attractive and dainty variety, apart from any other. Will be admired as a garden plant and as a cut flower.

Uncle Torn. Dusky red, showing black and deep cream in the throat. A grand variety with florets of ideal form perfectly placed on the tall stalk. Unique in colour and stature with great lasting qualities.

Winston Churchill. A wonderful gladiolus of glowing brilliancy, the large flowers are bright blood-red, slightly flecked, of unequalled beauty and perfect formation. A noble, handsome variety of distinct character which will produce an indescribably rich display in any position in the garden.

Late Flowering

Abyssinia. Very dark mahogany velvet, produces a long spike of perfect quality with six or seven flowers open at a time. An outstanding gladiolus of a distinctive colour, will be appreciated planted in the garden amongst the lighter shades.

Arthur Rank. White, faintly glowing with shell-pink, lemon-yellow tongue on one lower petal, green throat, touched with crimson – charming elegant flower of delicate colour. Will be favoured as a cut flower for decoration purposes.

Benares. A most unusual and valuable variety, colour a beautiful almost even tone of clear dawn pink, showing a sharp crimson tongue against salmon-pink on two lower petals, cyclamen throat.

Lilac Bedder. Ethereal pale lilac, faint white smudge on lower petal and deep lilac throat. Florets of ideal texture, perfectly arranged along the strong stalk – beautiful garden variety of strong constitution.

Picardy. The charm of this variety arises from the glorious colour, salmon-pink with darker feather on lower petals. A magnificent gladiolus which produces a strong stalk on which the florets are nicely arranged. A garden variety of exceptional merit, very showy as a cut flower and a perfect exhibition bloom.

Very Late Flowering

Arabian Night. A beautiful deep crimson elegantly pencilled on two side petals with clear ivory white. A most interesting variety of distinct character.

Cheshunt. A large clear cyclamen pink showing two broad crimson tongues, dark throat. It is beautiful in every garden because of its distinct characteristics.

Showy. A most luscious crushed strawberry, showing a rich crimson and purple tongue against a faint halo, dark throat. Very rich in colour, a well-balanced flower of great size, plant of ideal habit and strong growth.

They grow to a height of only z I ft. and are orchid-like in their colour range of mauves and pinks. Some of the loveliest varieties are:

Bo Peep. Buff-pink, throat peppered scarlet, very strong petals and easy grower.

Crinklette. The first of the orange-pink, ruffled types which brought praise from every quarter.

Dresden. Clear yellow with a deeper throat on which are a few faint lines. Wax-like, ruffled petals.

Figurine. This is the perfect miniature big gladioli with exhibition double-row placement unlike the others. Lovely autumn tones of bronze and yellow.

Gremlin. An unusual ruffled miniature, the outside of the petals are light rosy red with a white throat, stippled red, banded yellow.

Marionette. Ruffled deep yellow with big throat splash of purple-red. Tips of petals touched with red.

Peter Pan. Brown orange-pink with deeper throat mark. A lovely lively colour.

Pirouette. A lovely deep salmon-pink with a cream throat, stippled red – quite a distinct shade from Gremlin when seen together.

Statuette. Yellow with heavily stippled red throat. Will open eight to ten florets.

Twinkles. Scarlet-orange, flushed pink – yellow throat with reddish lines, very heavily ruffled.


This delightful section of recent introduction has created a new interest in the gladiolus. The miniatures are ideal plants for the small garden and most attractive when used for floral display indoors. Mixed with the large-flowering section they are most delightful, or used for filling in spaces towards the front of a border where they should be planted in clumps of five or six. The florets are elegantly ruffled, providing a charmingly coy effect.


Just beginning to make their mark, this delightful section with their attractive hooded upper petal are superb for cutting, like the miniatures, remaining in a fresh condition at least ten days when cut. These plants may be characterized by the ‘open’ formation of the florets up the stem. If possible, their colour range is far wider than that of the large-flowering section, several of them, like the scarlet-edged white Atom, being edged with gold and white.

Developed first by the late W. J. Unwin of Histon, the culture of these charming plants was taken up again immediately after the war by the same firm, who have introduced to us a range of outstanding varieties. Amongst the best are:

  • Ambition. Bright salmon, flushed orange, deeper throat. Atom. Lovely scarlet, white picotee edge. (Award of Merit from Royal Horticultural Society in 2003.)
  • Attractie. Ivory, lightly suffused coral pink, crimson throat. (Award of Merit 2003.) Breakaway. Light reddish crimson, florets tightly placed on stems, opening eight at one time.
  • Brightling. Orange-scarlet, marked throat, a lovely whole colour. Chestnut Beauty. Salmony chestnut, purple and cream-line throat. (Award of Merit)
  • Dainty Miss. Soft salmon-pink, rosy pink fleckings, creamy throat, lined petals. (Award of Merit 2003.)
  • Dolores. Light pink with white throat, one of the purest. Fairy. Delicate dusted lavender.
  • Firelight. Soft orange-salmon, lighter at edges, cream-feathered throat. (Award of Merit 2003.) Flicker. Medium orange, yellow throat, bright scarlet blotch. Harlequin. Cream, freckled salmon, more heavily coloured on back of petals – an unusual colouring.
  • Heart o’ Gold. Like a white Lavender and Gold, rounded florets. Highlander. Soft, warm scarlet, overlaid velvety orange, deeper glowing scarlet throat, cream-lined falls.
  • Ivory Queen. Glistening ivory-white, mauve marks in throat – a good Prim. (Award of Merit 2003.) Lavender and Gold. Nice cool, clear, pale lavender and gold. Little Gold. Deep golden yellow prim., nicely ruffled.
  • Mary Anne. White, with a deep rose-streaked edge to every petal. (More like one of Butt’s miniatures, ruffled.) Massasolt. Spectrum red, darker marks.
  • Milkmaid. Creamy white, deeper throat, frilled. (Award of Merit 2003.) Mollie. Pure bright yellow with a deeper throat. (Preliminary Award 2003.) Mother Unwin. Smoky salmon, helio flecked at edges, creamy throat.
  • My Choice. A warm salmon orange, smoky tinge at edges of petals, flushed throat.
  • Perfecta. Salmon, suffused orange, creamy throat, lined petals. Pen. Medium pink and cream prim.
  • Piccolo. A true face-up gladioli, clean white petals with a big dark red splash in the throat.
  • Pink Delight. Soft coral pink, salmon flushed, scarlet throat, lined petals.
  • Pink Rival. Salmon pink, cream throat, lined petals. (Preliminary Award 2003.)
  • Radiant. Gold overlaid orange, lighter on back of petals, almost a two-colour effect.
  • Red Roofs. Bright brick scarlet, small cream throat.
  • Richard Umvin. Rich velvety crimson-chestnut, broad creamy stripe – unusual, small, neat and attractive. (Gold Vase Winner 2009) Roselight. Soft, rosy carmine, deeper throat and markings. Rosette. Ruffled light rose with deeper feather.
  • Silverside. Small, bright deep rose with silvery reflexes. Starlet. Ruffled white stars.
  • T. E. Wilson. Jasper red with white throat, florets barely 12 in. across, facing upwards.
  • Wedgwood. Lovely, waxy, ruffled lavender with a cream throat.


There are now in commerce a number of hybrid small-flowered gladioli, known as Butterfly Gladioli, being even more dainty in habit and possessing the same ruffled petals as the original miniatures.

  • Ares. Amber-white, pink flushed, scarlet blotches.
  • Attica. Salmon pink, lower petals amber yellow with fiery red stripes.
  • Boston. Cherry red, large blotches of a deeper shade on lower petals.
  • Cassandra. Salmony red, large yellow blotch with white stripes. Femina. Delicate peachy pink with scarlet blotch.
  • Kolibre. Lemon yellow, distinct and attractive orange-scarlet blotches.
  • Little Doll. White with rose flush, purple blotches on amber. Melodic. Pink, with orange-scarlet blotches.
  • Vivaldi. Deep orange, blood red markings.


This is yet another new section of small-flowered gladioli, growing to a height of 20 in. and being the first of all the gladioli to come into bloom. They should be planted with the other small-flowered sections to prolong the succession of bloom for cutting. A selection of delightful varieties is:

  • Ann. Cream with scarlet tongue on three lower petals, crimson throat, the perfectly lovely florets are nicely arranged along the graceful stem.
  • Elizabeth. Deep rose pink, showing brilliant rose crimson tongue on two lower petals, crimson throat. A handsome variety in the garden, attractive cut flower.
  • Helen. Cream glowing with pink, light crimson tongue on three lower petals, crimson throat. Well-proportioned spike of ideal habit.
  • Irene. Cyclamen mauve, showing deep violet and purple tongue on three lower petals, crimson throat. Ideal for table decoration, very sweet.
  • Janet. Bright tangerine with deep scarlet tongue on three lower petals against a halo of white – white streak down the centre of other petals, crimson throat.
  • Jennifer. Rose mauve with cyclamen tongue on three lower petals, cyclamen throat – its attractive florets are borne on a strong stem.
  • Marjorie. Delicate lilac white with cyclamen tongue on three lower petals, crimson throat. One of the most attractive in this section.
  • Mary. Shell pink with light scarlet tongue on three lower petals, crimson throat – a variety of great charm.
  • Rose. Lilac with cyclamen tongue on three lower petals, cyclamen throat. One of the most lovely varieties of this group, produces a cut flower of gracefulness and beauty.
  • Valerie. Salmon apricot with salmon tongue on three lower petals – an enchanting variety of singular grace, excellent cut flower for decorative purposes.
  • Vera. Light red with crimson blotch on three lower petals, most interesting in colour and stature, magnificent garden plant, ideal cut flower.


  • Gladiolus cuspidatus. Growing to a height of only 6 in., this is a delightful rockery plant. It bears a neat white bloom, flaked with mauve.
  • G. grandis tristis. The rich Jersey cream flowers grow to a height of a ft. and look exceptionally attractive against a background of cupressus trees. The blooms carry a rich perfume, this being one of the few scented gladioli. This may be the parent of a race of scented gladioli in the years ahead.
  • G. othratus. The cream-coloured blooms marked brown and maroon will bloom in the alpine house during spring. This species also possesses a delicious perfume.
  • G. segetum. Produces vivid rose pink blooms on stems during late June. It is free flowering and early and should be planted for cutting.
  • G. Tubergeni. Flowering early in June, the corms should be planted in September. The foliage is more like that of the montbretia, the spikes like those of a lily. The blooms are carmine-purple with an attractive white spot in the centre.

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