The name of the Gladioli derives from the Latin and alludes to the small sword shape of the leaves: they belong to the genus Gladiolus, the most important of the Iridaceae family, and include about 300 cultivated and spontaneous species. They are bulbous plants, with linear leaves, with very evident parallel veins. In their lower part they embrace the stem and overlap each other. The inflorescence of the Gladioli is a one-sided spike; the numerous flowers that compose it are banded at the base by two green bracts. The Gladioli need little care and prefer a sunny exposure to be able to develop at their best and have an abundant flowering. The soil must be well drained because these plants are very affected by the presence of water stagnation: for this reason, attention must be paid to watering.

What you need to know

As is known, Gladioli are plants of exceptional horticultural interest, especially for the cut flower industry, having nowadays reached a popularity almost equal to that of carnations and roses. The cultivated Gladioli, both in the gardens and from the industrial flowering, differ somewhat from the spontaneous species and are collectively designated with the name of modern Gladioli. The most experienced breeders are the Dutch, the French, the Germans, the Americans, the Australians and the Italians. The current Gladioli have flower spikes very rich in flowers, large, in a range of colors so vast and so rich in shades that it cannot be defined except by saying that all colors are present with the exception of black, blue and light blue which still appears suffused with gray. The cultivation of these plants includes the burying of bulbs in mid-April, to be unearthed in autumn. When cutting the flowers, a large part of the leaves must also be removed.

The soil and fertilization

The best known species of Gladioli in the Italian flora are Gladiolus communis and Gladiolus paluster, the latter characteristic of the humid places of some Alpine and Apennine regions. Much more numerous are the cultivated species. The best known species and from which the majority of cut flowers on the market today are obtained is Gladiolus gadavensis; other species are Gladiolus tristis, Gladiolus cardinalis and Gladiolus undulatus. All these varieties must be planted in simple loose soil, sheltered from the winds. If the soil is poor in nutrients, it can be supplemented with a suitable fertilizer for bulbs. The Gladioli must be buried at a depth of about 10-12 cm: usually single specimens or small groups are planted in the pots. In the garden, however, groups of 10-20 bulbs and rows of plants are more frequent. The taller varieties need a brace in order to develop at their best.

Gladioli: Growing Tips

The hybridizations created over time have made it possible to enrich the same shape of the flower of the Gladioli: in fact the original hooding of the tepals has been lost and their modification has been introduced. In this way the tepals appear wavy, curled or wavy; these characters are derived from hybridizations with Gladiolus primulinus. Gladioli thrive in any type of soil, however fertile, medium-textured or even light ones are the most suitable for the success of cultivation. To be sure that the bulbs survive the winter and can be planted again the following spring, it is best to leave them in the dark in a cool place: at the same time, care must be taken that during the vegetative rest the bulbs are not affected by mold and rot. .

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