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:
Growing to a height of 40cm and produces large and very showy pink flowers. For any rich, well drained substrate in full sun. Requires a good winter protection (thick mulch layer) in colder districts. In areas of heavty frost it should be grown in pots under frost free conditions in a greenhouse.
This plant was first described by English born South African botanist, botanical artist, businessman and philanthropist Bolus. He advanced botany in South Africa by establishing bursaries, founding the Bolus Herbarian and bequeathing his library and a large part of his fortune to the South African College (now the University of Cape Town. It is said that the species is named after the farmer on which the bulb was found.
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