Every month has a corresponding birthstone. Every month has a different birth flower. The birth flower for the month of August is the gladiolus. At Julia’s Florist, we believe that flowers are nature’s gift to people. You don’t have to wait until a special occasion to enjoy them. Our slogan explains that philosophy: “Flowers for Everyday and Every Occasion.”
We thought we’d share some interesting information about this month’s birth flower with our customers.
Origins of the Gladiolus
There isn’t any definitive information about when and where the first gladioli were grown. One thing we do know, however, is that the gladiolus was the flower of the Roman gladiators. The flower got its common name, which is Sword Lily, from the sword-like shape of the leaves. It seems likely that the association with gladiators also had something to do with that.
The gladiolus belongs to the genus of the same name. That genus has about 260 different species, out of which 250 are native to the Sub-Saharan countries in Africa. More specifically, 160 species are endemic to the southernmost portion of Africa. Another 76 species are native to areas of tropical Africa. Southern Africa lies in the Southern Hemisphere where there are distinguishable differences in seasonal weather changes.
The gladioli that are grown for commercial markets, and for the corms that are sold to home gardeners, are very different from the gladioli that are native to Africa. Over the centuries, botanists have worked hard to create hybrids that reliably produce the same number of huge flowers of the same size per stem.
They’ve also worked hard to create hybrids that are well-suited to growth in a range of hardiness zones – from zone 6 through zone 10, although the glads (as they are commonly called,) that grow in zone 6 can’t stay in the ground all winter. Since Wilmington is in zone 8a, you can leave your gladioli corms in the ground – indefinitely after you plant them in the spring.
The Meaning Behind Gladioli
On its own, the gladiolus is a symbol of character strength and integrity. It’s proof of one’s sincerity. It is also connected with calmness and tranquility generosity, eternal sleep, imagination, and oblivion. It is also a sign of love at first sight.
Perhaps the reference to the gladiolus as the sword lily explains the belief that when gladioli are given to a man or woman as a gift of love, it means that the person giving the gift intends to pierce the heart (with their love) of the man or woman who receives it.