Every month has a birthstone associated with it. The same applies for flowers. The birth flower associated with August is the Gladiolus. The botanical name is a nod to Roman Gladiators who fought with swords.
This stately, long, elegant stem is topped with multiple flower blooms. Because of the long, thick stems, the flower is also known as the “sword lily.” Legend has it that when someone gives a gift of a gladiolus, the giver is piercing the recipient’s heart with love.
In flower language, (and yes, there is a language of flowers,) Gladiolus is considered the Flower of the Gladiators, and it symbolizes character strength, sincerity, and generosity. It also symbolizes “love at first sight.”
Gladiolus is Technically Not a Bulb
Many people mistakenly refer to Gladiolus as a bulb. Although it looks a lot like a bulb, it is actually a corm. Corms are solid objects. When you look at a corm, the exterior part of the solid mass doesn’t have any defining characteristics or layers. If you cut into it, you’ll see something that looks a lot like the inside of a potato – a hard piece of flesh.
Another important distinction between bulbs and corms is that the spring bulbs are planted during the fall, allowing enough time for bulbs to establish roots, which nourish the tiny embryo inside all winter. The National Gardening Association explains that a gladiolus corm isn’t winter hardy in zones that get colder than USDA hardiness zone 7.
Bigger Corms Produce Bigger Plants and More Flowers
If you want taller flower stems and larger flowers, then you need to look for larger corms. To figure out the size of a corm, simply measure the circumference. Gladiolus plants can grow to heights of anywhere between two and six feet, but the typical range is three to four feet. Most stems produce between 12 and 20 flowers, each of which is about the size of a fist.
Gladiolus Aren’t Hardy in Cold Zones
The familiar spring-blooming bulbs like tulips and daffodils and even irises are hardy in cold hardiness zones. Gladiolus bulbs won’t withstand cold winter temperatures, so in cold climates, they are either grown as annuals or lifted from the soil before the first freeze. They are planted in spring – after the danger of frost passes. It is important to loosen the soil to a depth of 15 inches before planting Gladiolus. Add at least four inches of compost or organic matter to the soil after tilling or digging, mixing it in thoroughly. Plant Gladiolus four inches deep, and space corms at least four to six inches apart.
Gladiolus are commonly used in cut flower arrangements. If you can’t find Gladiolus, you can get the bright summery colors in other summer arrangements like Summer Samba or Summer Sunflowers. Brighten any room in your home, or bring some summer cheer to a friend or loved one with summer flowers from Blossom Flower Shops.