Sword Lily Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Gladiolus Palustris”

Our Guide to Sword Lily for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for "Gladiolus Palustris"
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Every garden deserves to be filled with beautiful colours every summer. Plant Gladiolus flowers in your garden and wait for the summer to see how they brighten up your landscape.

Gladiolus Palustris, sometimes known as ‘Sword Lily’, can be found in every florist trade as they are often used as ornamental flowers in bouquets. But, these colourful beauties can also easily be grown at home in an outdoor garden by any novice or experienced grower.

Despite their spectacular and intimidating appearance during their bloom season, Glads are really easy to grow. They require very little care to burst into bloom during the hot months and bring bright colours to the garden or inside your home.

Gladiolus flowers are some of the most popular summer-flowering bulbs. They are also exquisite cut flowers that you can place indoors in a vase or create a beautiful bouquet for your loved ones.

About Gladiolus

  • Gladiolus plants are part of the Iridaceae family, and they are native to Europe, Africa, and the Mediterranean area.
  • The botanical name of Gladiolus flowers is Gladiolus Palustris. These flowers are also commonly known as Glads, Flag Flowers, and Sword Lilies.
  • Glads are great vegetable garden companions. They are really attractive to pollinating insects thanks to their bright colours, which help vegetable yields increase.
  • A fun fact to know about Gladiolus is that the flowers are edible. They have a taste that vaguely resembles the taste of lettuce. In fact, Gladioli flowers are commonly used as containers for exotic dishes such as seafood or fruit salads. The petals of the flowers are also used as decorations on certain dishes.
  • These majestic flowers will look great in any garden as they bloom in the summer.
  • Besides their spectacular and vivid colours that brighten your landscape, the flowers also attract a lot of life in your outdoor space. Butterflies, insects, and hummingbirds are all attracted to the brightly coloured flowers.
  • Although they have an impressive appearance, Gladiolus are actually very common and easy to grow. Like all plants, they have a few basic growing needs to grow healthy and happy and to bloom in the hot season.
  • Glads are sun-loving. They can adapt to partial shade, they thrive in full sun. Whether you grow them in your garden or a container, make sure to place them where they get a lot of sunlight.
  • Most species of Gladiolus flowers aren’t winter-hardy. They prefer warm temperatures that range between 55°F and 77 °F (12 °C- 25°C). Only very few species of Glads can survive winter temperatures as low as 15F (-9C).
  • These flowers will thrive if you grow them in well-draining soil to prevent corm rot.
  • Glads are particularly sensitive to pests like thrips. These tiny winged insects not only suck the life out of the Gladiolus plants, but they are also dangerous as they can transmit viruses to the plants. The best way to get rid of thrips is to use insecticidal soap.
  • Other common pest and disease problems of Gladiolus flowers include mealy bugs, corm rot, and leaf-eating caterpillar.
  • Although the blooms of the Gladiolus flowers are edible and actually used in preparing and decorating certain dishes, the other parts of the Glad plants are poisonous. The most toxic parts of the Gladiolus flowers are the bulbs. When ingested, they can cause several symptoms such as seizures, vomiting, lethargy, diarrhoea, decreased heart rate, and abdominal pain.
  • Besides being toxic to pets, the leaves and the bulbs of the Gladiolus plants also pose a threat to your pets as your furry friends can choke on these parts of the plants, which will cause a lack of oxygen and seizures. Make sure to keep the flowers out of your kids’ and pets’ reach.
Gladiolus palustris
Gladiolus palustris

Gladiolus Features: An Overview

  • Gladiolus flowers are classic perennials that can grow up to 2-5 feet (60-152 cm) when they reach maturity.
  • They can easily be recognized for their tall flower spikes and large colourful blooms in the summer.
  • Most flowers come in nearly any colour and shade, including red, pink, yellow, purple, green, orange, or white. The blue Gladiolus are pretty rare.
  • As they grow, Glads typically produce 1 to 9 narrow, sword-shaped leaves, which gave the plant the name of “Sword Lily.” In early summer, Gladiolus produce trumpet-shaped flowers that open from the bottom.

Growing Gladiolus

Caring for Gladiolus flowers is easy as the plants are really low maintenance. They only need a few things to grow healthy and happy and to bloom at the beginning of the hot season. Whether you are a novice or an experienced grower and you wish for your garden to be filled with bright colours and life in summer, growing Gladiolus is a great idea.

The most important thing to pay attention to when growing Gladiolus is to make sure that they get enough sunlight. These flowers do best in full sun. As mentioned above, these attractive flowers can adapt to partial shade, but getting enough sunlight encourages more blooms. We recommend finding the sunniest spot in your garden or home to grow your Gladiolus flowers. It would be best if your Gladiolus would get at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun daily.

Another thing that’s going to help your Gladioli bloom and brighten your landscape is some feeding. It’s best to fertilize newly emerged Gladiolus flowers with a balanced 10-10-10 liquid fertilizer. Avoid fertilizing Gladioli with nitrogen fertilizer or lawn fertilizer because these two only encourage leaf production but discourage blooming.

Pruning back your Gladioli can also help the flowers stay healthy. First, you need to remove the blooming stems after the buds have faded. The next step is to cut the leaves of the Gladioli to the ground after they turn yellow at the end of the hot season. It’s vital not to cut the foliage too early, as this can negatively impact your flower’s ability to bloom again next summer.

Marsh gladiolus or Sword Lily
Marsh gladiolus or Sword Lily

Planting Gladiolus

Planting Gladioli is an easy yet essential process. There are a few things to consider when planting the bulbs that will help your plants produce beautiful blooms at the beginning of summer.

The most important things to consider are:

  • The right time to plant your Gladiolus
  • Well-draining soil
  • A lot of sunlight
  • Your climate

Let’s discuss each of these essential aspects in planting Gladioli.

First, know that the right time to plant your Gladioli bulbs is in spring after you’re 100% sure that the danger of frost has passed. Otherwise, if you plant the bulbs too early and the temperatures will drop suddenly, the bulbs won’t grow. After planting, know that the bulbs need between 60 to 90 days bulbs to root, grow, and produce blooms.

The next important aspect to consider is the soil type. As mentioned, Gladioli need well-draining soil to prevent corm rot. These flowers don’t like to sit in soggy soil, so they need soil that provides good drainage and allows excess water to pass through it. To improve your soil’s ability for good drainage, mix it with pebbles or sand.

When choosing where to plant your Gladioli, there are two key things to consider: the flowers’ need for full sun and your climate.

More precisely, whether you decide to grow your Gladioli in your outdoor space or in containers, ensure that you choose a sunny spot for them to grow. As for why the climate in your area matters, remember that Gladiolus aren’t winter-hardy. This means that you need to protect them from freezing temperatures. For this reason, if the climate in your area gets colder during winter, it may be best to plant your Gladiolus in pots that you can bring indoors during the cold months. If the temperatures don’t drop too low during the winter months, you can plant the Gladiolus bulbs in your garden.

Watering Gladiolus

Although they don’t like to sit in soggy soil, Gladiolus flowers prefer to be watered regularly. In fact, well-watered Glads typically produce larger flowers.

We recommend watering your Gladioli once a week. If you grow your flowers outdoors and it rains, skip watering for that week.

Don’t forget about the importance of well-draining soil to ensure that excess water will pass through and won’t affect the corms of the Glads.

Mixed Gladiolus Bulbs, From Amazon

Propagating Gladiolus

Gladiolus flowers can be propagated via germinated seeds and divided corms. However, the flowers grow faster from divided Gladiolus corms.

If you plant the corms during the hot season, water them, but only once. Only water the flowers again once you see them growing. Otherwise, you may cause the corms to rot.

In Conclusion

Gladiolus flowers are must-have summer plants in every garden. They brighten up any outdoor space with their vivid colours and the winged beauties they attract during the hot season.

Gladioli are really easy to care for as long as you provide them with their basic needs: full sun, well-draining soil, average warm temperatures. In return for just a little care, they bring a lot of life to your garden every summer.

Are you growing Gladioli in your garden? Share your experience in the comments below!


Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact

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