The ancient name for gladiolus was xiphium from the Greek word xiphos, meaning sword. Its name was later changed to gladiolus, which comes from the Latin wordgladius, which also means sword.
The genus includes around 260 species with many thousands of registered cultivars. Most gladioli originated in Africa and were not known in Europe until the mif 1750s when they were introduced by travelers following the Indian Trade Route. European botanists and hobbyist soon began to grow and breed gladiolus flowers. By 1806, William Herbert produced the first hybrid. He crossed G. tristus (night scent) and G recurvus (violet scent during the day) and named it ‘fragrans’.
Gladiolus require well drained fertile loamy soil. Water logged, heavy sticky soil will result in decaying of corms as well as delay in growth of plants. The planting position should have a sunny situation protected from wind, by wind breaks or hedge. It produces bigger size flowers in areas with moderate humidity. Shallow planting of corms i.e. at the depth of 5-10 cm is essential. Deep planting will result into poor production of cormels and also cause decaying of corms.
Description and Distribution:
From the Western Cape in South Africa this is a showy gladiolus with big fragrant flowers coming out in shades of purple and sometimes yellow. Often with a pale yellow throat. This is a winter growing Gladiolus, flowering in spring and growing to 40-75cm in height. It is said that this plant was first described and named in William Aiton’s book Hortus Kewensis. Hortus Kewensis, is a three-volume publication with engravings listing all plants known to be in cultivation in southern England. It is also said that librarians Daniel Solander and Jona Dryander began compiling what would be Aiton’s written legacy.
In 1759 that William Aiton was appointed the first botanic gardener at Princess Augusta’s gardens in Kew. Under George III, William Aiton, was responsible, with Sir Joseph Banks, for making the royal garden at Kew the leading botanic garden in the country. His son, William Townsend Aiton, was employed more widely by George IV, both at Kew and as a landscape gardener in the development of the gardens at Windsor and Buckingham Palace.