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Hybrid Gladioluses

Gladiolus Hybrids
Cultivar "Lolita"

Gladiolus Hybrids - Gladiolus x hybridus hort. The modern summer blooming hybrids are very different from the species glads. These varieties with their large, showy flowers are the most popular of all gladioli. They are excellent for exhibition and are much used by florists as cut flowers.

The modern hybrids or Grandiflora hybrids are much larger, both in terms of flower size and the size of the flower spike. Some modern hybrids can have up to 40 flower buds and can hold ten or more 5 1/2" wide flowers open at once.

In addition to the larger size, modern hybrid glads have flowers in colors and forms not found in the species. Most modern glads have at least some ruffling of the petals and some varieties are so heavily ruffled and textured that they almost appear to be carved from wax.

Gladiolus gandavensis
Photo from

Gladiolus gandavensis hort. It was the first hybrid gladiolus. That was the hybrid of Gladiolus psittacinus and Gladiolus cardinalis originated in 1837 and firstly described in 1844. This hybrid comes in colors from red to purple pink. It blooms in last summer.

Nanus Hybrids
Photo from

Nanus Hybrids were introduced in 1855 from Gladiolus cardinalis and Gladiolus venustus. Gladioluses from the Nanus Hybrids are decorative and early-flowering. They come in white, pink, salmon and some varieties are nearly red, have narrow leaves, and have two to four flower stalks with many side shoots. They have graceful spikes with fewer than 12 buds. They are good to use in the garden but they are also suitable as a cut flower. The Nanus types are also known as "Baby Gladiolus" or some such similar name. Although the exact parentage of these hybrids is mostly lost, we know that they are the result of crossing the summer and winter blooming species together. In fact, virtually all of them are actually first generation hybrids.

Primulinus Hybrids
Photo from book by Dr. D.G. Hessayon

Primulinus Hybrids. These cultivars originated from the yellow Gladiolus primulinus. This group can be recognized by the upper flower leaf which covers the other flower leaves, pistil and stamen as if it were a protective little cap. The heart of the flower is, for this reason, difficult to see.

Butterfly Hybrids. The butterfly-type gladioluses were introduced in 1951. Common characteristics of the butterfly gladiolus are its crossed and folded petals and its interesting color combinations. This group contains varieties in which the plants are not as big as the large-flowering gladioli, therefore the flowers are also a little smaller. The color of the flower is very often in strong contrast with the rest of the plant, and tends to look like a butterfly. Butterfly types are very suitable for cut flower production.

Miniature Hybrids. They were originated in 1950s. The miniature glads should not be confused with varieties of species such as Primulinus hybrids. The flower diameter is about 2". They are not plain-petaled and small but are essentially replicates of the ruffled and frilled large-flowered types. The small flowers on short spikes often make them more suitable for small arrangements.