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Flower Profile: Gladiolus

Updated: Nov 18, 2021

Each month of the year has one or two flowers that are meant to represent the characteristics of the people born that month. In August, those flowers are poppies and gladiolus. So, let’s take a little time to get to know “glads”.

Despite being called “sword lilies”, they aren’t lilies at all

Gladiolus, of which there are 250 species (primarily originating in sub-Saharan Africa), belong to the iris family. Irises often get mistaken for lilies, but there are two key differences: the leaves of irises lay together in a flat plane at the base of the plant, and irises only have 3 (to lily’s 6) stamen.

They are sometimes called “sword lilies” because they resemble long swords, and because they resemble lilies.

They can be as tall as some humans

Gladioli, known for their varied colours and their column of blooms, can grow up to five feet in height. Because of this, it is important to stake gladioli, so they don’t fall over. In a bouquet, they can offer a beautiful long line to create plenty of height – just make sure your vase is about 1/3 the total height of the flowers themselves. They pair well with lilies, but also look stunning with curly willow. Or you can take individual flowers off and feature them in a bowl.

Each stem contains 10-16 blooms

You get a big bang for your buck with glads, as each stem contains several trumpet-shaped flowers. The bottom flower is always the largest and brightest, and most of the blooms will open to one side, rather than on each side of the stem. Each flower can be almost any colour imaginable, except blue. They may have stripes, ruffles or frills, or blotches, so each stem is truly unique.

They have other functions besides beauty

There is no doubt that glads are a beautiful flower. Not only are they one of the celebrated flowers of August, but they are also used for 40th wedding anniversaries, where they symbolize strength of character and love.

But, like most flowers, they also have a traditional medicinal use – to treat colic (although we don't recommend trying this at home!). They can also induce symptoms of intoxication.

Gladioli are a lovely summer-blooming flower, for both the garden and the vase. August seems the perfect time to celebrate their tall splendor.

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