Sword Lily – Gladiolus spp.

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Sword Lily – Gladiolus spp.

Common Name: Sword Lily

Botanical Name: Gladiolus spp., glad-ee-O-lus

Decorative Life: 6-10 days.

Flower Color:

Availability: ,

Harvest Instructions:

Cultivar selection is important. For example, some good mini glads are ‘Adi’ (currant-red), ‘Kinnereth’ (violet), ‘Ronit’ (purple), ‘Yamit’ (violet) and ‘Nirit (blood-red). Spraying plants 2 weeks before flowers are harvested with a 2% calcium nitrate solution greatly reduces stem topple (breakage) disorder after harvest. Addition of calcium to the soil has little benefit in preventing this postharvest disorder. Harvest when 1-5 flowers on a spike are showing color.

Family Roots:
  • Member of the Iridaceae (iris family).
  • Native to South Africa.
  • Cousins include Iris, freesia, crocus, ixia and Watsonia.
  • Normally has 10-16 flowers (4-10 inches or more in length) on a one-sided spike at end of stem.
  • Stems are thick, fleshy, up to 4 feet long.
  • Plant is a perennial from corms, classed as a monocotyledon, leaves mostly parallel veined.
  • While a few cultivars are sweetly scented, most have no fragrance.
Storage Specifics:

Generally 32-38F. However, some cultivars grown in Florida are reported to be chill sensitive and therefore are stored at 45 degrees F. No research is available to confirm this report. In addition, there is data to support the use of low oxygen and high carbon dioxide storage and/or packaging of mini-glads (‘Adi’). Flowers stored for 14 days at 35F had good subsequent vaselife.

  • Gladiolus means sword in Latin, referring to the long pointed leaves. This might explain one early common name, sword lily.
  • Miniature forms are available with stems under 2 feet long. Grown from corms, not bulbs. The first species as we know them today were introduced from Ghent, Belgium in 1841.
  • Flower forms: ruffled, fringed, orchid-like, tulip-like and rose-like.
  • Some cultivars are sensitive to fluoride found in water supplies, which can result in flower tip burn.
  • Shorter cultivars are available which has transformed this stereotypic funeral flower into a contemporary favorite.
Recent Research Findings:

Using ‘Fujinoyuki’, Otsubo and Iwaya-Inoue (2000) showed that the two glucose sugar called “trehalose” worked better as a flower food ingredient, better than the more common sugars sucrose, fructose or glucose.

Personal Experience:

Many gladiolus varieties can be harvested with very little color