Introduction of Gladiolus Cultivation:- Gladiolus is perennial cormous flowering plants belong to Iridaceae family. The Botanical name is Gladiolus tristis.The name “Gladiolus” is derived from the Latin word “Gladius”, meaning “sword”, for the shape of its leaves. The common name is Gladiolus, Sword lily and Natal lily.This is one of most beautiful flowers blossom from October to March in plains and June to September in hills (Indian zones). These plants can be grown both in pots and beds as long as proper sunlight is present (minimum of 10 hours sunlight required for well blooming) . Gladiolus plants grow very well in warm climatic conditions. Gladioli are half-hardy in temperate climatic conditions and these plants grow from rounded, symmetrical corms that are bonded with several layers of brownish tunics. Gladioli flowers are produced in variously colours. Most of the colours are from pink to reddish or light purple with white, contrasting markings, or white to cream or orange to red. Actually, the genus of Gladiolus contains about 260 species in which 225 are native to Africa. Commercial flower farmers can grow these in polyhouse or greenhouses as well. One can get decent profits under ideal cultivation practices.
Uses and Health Benefits of Gladiolus:-
The primary purpose is to produce beautiful cut-flowers which can be marketed to local flower markets or these flowers can be grown for ornamental (decorative) purpose in the garden. However, there are some medicinal health benefits of dried bulb which is ground into a powder.
- Gladiolus flower bulb powder may help in curing common cold.
- Gladiolus flower bulb powder may relieve from diarrhea.
- Gladiolus flower bulb powder may alleviate constipation.
- Gladiolus flower bulb powder may reduce pain during menstruation in women.
- Gladiolus flower bulb powder may help in curing fungal infections.
- Gladiolus flower bulb powder may help in relieving ulcers.
- Gladiolus flower bulb powder may help in curing meningitis.
Varieties (Cultivars) of Gladiolus:-
There are mainly two types of varieties grown ; big flowered and small flowered. The following are some of the common varieties grown.
Big Flowered Varieties: George mazne, Patrica, Ratna butterfly, Snow princess, Apple blossom, Black jack, Cherry blossom, Friendship, Melody, Royal tublee, Mayur, Nazrana, Apsara, Sapna, Arti, Poonam and Shobha..
Small Flowered Varieties: Canberra, Red canna, Butterfly and Royal jubilee.
Climate Requirement for Gladiolus Cultivation:-
These flowers can be grown in subtropical and temperate climatic conditions. The temperature range of 25°C – 30°C is ideal for its cultivation. Apart from this, this crop demands full exposure to sunlight and performs well with long day conditions of 10 –12 hour photo-period. Avoid any frost during its growth period as this crop is sensitive to frost conditions.
Soil Requirement of Gladiolus Cultivation:-
Gladiolus plants can be grown in wide range of soils. However, Well-drained sandy loam soil rich in organic matter with pH range of 6.0 – 6.5 are best suitable for their growth and best flower yield. Water-logging soils should be avoided. Commercial horticulture farmers should opt for soil test to find out the soil fertility. Any soil nutrient and micro-nutrient deficiencies should be covers as part of the land preparation.
Propagation in Gladiolus Cultivation:-
Commercial propagation of Gladiolus plants is done by corms (arounded underground storage consisting of a swollen stem base covered with scale leaves). Minimum of 5 cm diameter corms are required for propagation. Make sure these corms are healthy and disease free. When it comes to shape of corms, conical shaped corms gives better flowers when compared to flat shaped corms.
Seed Rate, Planting, and Spacing in Gladiolus Cultivation:-
1,50,000 corms to 1,60,000 corms are required to cover 1 hectare field. Select healthy and disease free corms for planting. These corms can be planted on ridges or furrows at the distance of 20 cm X 30 cm with depth of 5 cm to 10 cm. Avoid deep planting as it may cause decaying of corms in the soil. Usually, In Pakistan these are planted in the month of September.
Intercultural Operations in Gladiolus Cultivation:-
For healthy growth of the crop and high yields of flowers, it is mandatory to make the filed weed free. Earthing up the soil is a must in case of light soils and strong stakes are required to support long spikes to prevent from wind break. The stakes are mandatory especially when growing large flowered varieties to avoid lodging. When the plant shoots are about 20 cm high they should be covered with the soil up to a height of 15 cm. This process makes sure the plants to grow erect without disturbing from heavy winds and rains. This is also helpful in suppressing weed growth at plant base.
Pests and Diseases in Gladiolus Cultivation:-
The following are the pests and disease found in Gladiolus cultivation.
Pests: Thrips and Aphids are common insect pests found in Gladiolus cultivation.Control Measures: Contact your local horticulture department for the symptoms of these pests and preventive methods.
Diseases: Leaf spot, Bacterial scab blight and spots and spongy rot are common diseases attack gladiolus plants.
Control Measures: Contact your local horticulture department for the symptoms of these diseases and preventive methods.
Harvesting in Gladiolus Cultivation:-
Usually, Gladiolus plants take 3 to 4 months (90 to 120 days) to produce spikes depending on variety. During harvesting, at least 4 to 5 basal leaves should be retained on the plant to ensure proper development of corms and cormels.
Yield of Flowers in Gladiolus Cultivation:-
Yield of any crop depends on many factors such as plant age, soil type, variety (cultivar), climate and other garden/crop management practices. In Gladiolus cultivation, one can obtain a yield of 2 to 3 lakh spikes/ha, 18,000 to 20,000 kg corms/ha under ideal farming conditions.
Marketing of Gladiolus Flowers:-
Fresh cut flowers can be placed and packed in a card board boxes made for this purpose. These boxes can be transported to nearest flower markets or sell to flower agents.Even some farmers sell the fresh cut-flowers at the farm gate.
written by . Muhammad Shahroz Khan B.Sc(Hons.) Agri. Sciences Horticulture from University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan.