How to Grow Gladiolus Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Gladioli, Corn Lily, and Sword Lilies

Members of the Gladiolus genus are half hardy or hardy bulbs that range in height from 30 cm to 1.5 Metres (1 to 5 feet).

They bear attractive flowers along upright stems and bloom from summer through to the start of autumn.

Some common names for Gladiolus plants include Gladioli, Corn Flag, and Sword Lily.

Gladiolus Callianthus
Gladiolus Callianthus - Peacock Orchid by pizzodisevo

Gladiolus by AvidlyAbide.

How to Grow Gladiolus

Gladiolus Growing Guide and Facts

Common Names: Gladioli, Sword Lily, Marsh Afrikaner, Corn flag, Corn Lily, Long Tubed Painted Lady.
Life Cycle: Hardy bulb. Half hardy bulb
Height: 18 to 60 inches (45 to 150 cm).
Native: Africa, Mediterranean, Asia.
Growing Region: Zones 2 to 10.

Flowers: Summer until early autumn.
Flower Details: Most colours. Fragrant. One-sided spikes. Funnel-shaped.
Small. Clustered. Fragrant. Daisy-like ray and disc florets. Bell-shaped. Tubular. Trumpets. Inconspicuous pale green; plants are grown for their attractive silvery or bronze spearheads.
Foliage: Herbaceous. Sword-like. Erect.

Grow Outside: Usually grown from bulbs as seed grown plants will not bear flowers for about five years.
Corm: 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm); deeper in sandy soils than clay soils. Once a fortnight from a few weeks after the last frost for two months. Spacing 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm).
Sow Inside: Seeds: 1/8 inch (6 mm). Late in winter. Germination time: 3 to 6 weeks. Temperature: 70°F (21°C). Transplant outdoors a few weeks after last frost.

Requirements and care: Full sunlight. Good drainage. Soil pH 6.0 to 7.0. Regular watering. Provide a light feeds at budding, blooming and once flowering has completed. Provide support if needed. Bring bulbs indoors over the winter in colder areas and store in a frost free, dark and cool place. Divide every few years to maintain vigour. Propagate: from cormels.
Miscellaneous: Considered a weed in some cultivated areas.

How to Grow Gladioli

It is easiest to grow Gladioli from bulbs.

Although members of the Gladiolus genus can be grown from seed, it is quite difficult. It may take three years to germinate, and seed grown plants may take along time until they bloom.

Gladioli bulbs should be buried at a depth of 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inches). Use a spacing of 10 cm (4 inches; small Gladiolus species) to 15 cm (6 inches; larger Gladiolus varieties).

Plant the Gladioli corms every two weeks throughout the winter. This will produce a prolonged bloom of your Gladiolas.

Ideally Gladioli will grow in a sunny area that has a rich soil. This soil should be slightly acidic to neutral in pH.

If you do want to grow from seed, then sow them indoors first. Sow Gladioli seeds at a depth of 3 mm (1/8th inch).

It should take them about three to six weeks to germinate at a temperature of 20 to 24 degrees centigrade (68-75°F).

Transplant young Gladioli seedlings about three weeks after the last chance of a frost.

Gladioli in bloom
Gladioli in bloom by born1945.

Caring for Gladioli

It is fairly easy to look after Gladiolus plant genus members such as Sword lily and Gladioli. They should be watered regularly.

Stake taller Gladiolus varieties; especially if you have had to plant them shallowly.

Gladioli should be fertilised three times a year: upon bud development; upon blooming: and following blooming.

If you require more plants, then propagate by planting the cormells older corms produce.

Common Questions

How many members does the Gladiolus genus have?

The Gladiolus genus contains about 260 species.

Do members of Gladiolus make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Gladiolus, known as sword lilies, are popular for their striking, tall flower spikes and make excellent cut flowers.

Which Gladiolus species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

The hybrid Gladiolus x hortulanus, often simply referred to as the garden gladiolus, is commonly grown by gardeners.

Are members of the Gladiolus plant genus fragrant?

Some species and varieties of Gladiolus are fragrant, though many are not.

What is the perfect location to grow Gladiolus?

Gladiolus prefers full sun and well-drained soil.

Is Gladiolus invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Currently, Gladiolus is not recognized as invasive in the USA.

How do I remove Gladiolus plants from my garden?

To remove Gladiolus, carefully dig around the corms and lift them from the soil.


The Gladiolus genus, part of the Iridaceae family, originates from Europe, Asia, and Africa. Often known as Sword Lily, these bulbous perennials produce tall spikes of brightly colored, trumpet-shaped flowers.

Plant Gladiolus corms in spring, 3-6 inches deep, in a sunny location with well-drained soil. Regular watering during growth and bloom periods is essential. In cooler climates, corms should be dug up before the first frost and stored indoors for the winter.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Gladiolus plants. You may also enjoy my gardening guides on how to grow African Lily, Stenanthium plant, and Canna plants.