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Byzantine Gladiola

COMMON NAMES:  Byzantine gladiola, hardy gladiola, perennial gladiola, sword-lily

BOTANICAL NAME:  Gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus 

FAMILY:  Iridaceae

TYPE:  Bulb 

NATIVE RANGE:  Southern Spain, Italy, northwestern Africa

ZONE:  7 to 10

HEIGHT:  1 to 2 feet

SPREAD:  .75 to 3 feet

BLOOM TIME:  June to July

BLOOM DESCRIPTION:  Purple-magenta to copper-red

SUN:  Full sun

WATER:  Medium


FLOWER:  Showy Garden locations

HABIT:  It is a bulbous perennial that features narrow sword-shaped basal leaves in a fan of 3-5 and erect flowering spikes to 24" tall featuring flowered racemes (to 15 flowers each) of funnel-shaped, purple-magenta to maroon to copper-red flowers (each to 1-3" long). Flowers bloom in late spring to early summer. Genus name comes from the Latin word (gladius) meaning sword in reference to the leaf shape. Clumps increase in size each year. ‘Albus’ is a white-flowered variety. Will naturalize along the Gulf Coast. Regular glads are much harder to grow.

CULTURE:  Byzantine gladiola is native to the Mediterranean area. Winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-10. Grows best in fertile, organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. It olerates some light afternoon shade. Location should best be protected from strong winds. Provide consistent moisture throughout the growing season, and do not allow soil to dry out. Corms are best planted in fall 4” deep and 4-6” apart in groups of at least 5-7. Mulch as with other plants. It will naturalize in the garden over time by cormlets and self-seeding.

PROBLEMS:  No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for Fusarium rot, gray mold (Botrytis), aster yellows and rust. Thrips can cause significant problems. Aphids may appear. Taller flowering stems appreciate staking or support or may fall over if exposed to strong winds or rain. Not an easy plant to find.

USES:  Excellent plant for sunny perennial beds and borders.

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