From the Latin gladius, meaning sword, relating to their leaf shape.
South African, like many other bulb flowers (see Freesia).
White and soft pastels, pinks, oranges, peach, yellow, red and purple.
May to October.
The daintily-patterned smaller Nanus forms of gladioli (bottom right) are less well-known but delightful cut-flowers.
Remove faded flowers to encourage others to open. Snipping off the top two or three green buds straightens the stem and helps flowers open below. Gladioli like a lot of water, and will suffer seriously if not given enough water.
Used extensively throughout Mediterranean countries in festivals and saints' days.
Image courtesy of the International Flower Bulb Centre
Image courtesy of www.challagladiolen.nl