Gladiolus communis var. byzantinus
Common Name: Byzantine gladiolus 
Type: Bulb
Family: Iridaceae
Native Range: Northern Africa, southern Europe
Zone: 7 to 10
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Purple-magenta to copper-red
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-10 where plants are best grown in fertile, organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. They tolerates some light afternoon shade. Site plants in a sheltered location protected from strong winds. Provide consistent moisture throughout the growing season, and do not allow soils to dry out. Corms are best planted in fall. Plant corms 4” deep and 4-6” apart in groups of at least 5-7. Mulch in winter with hay/straw or evergreen boughs. Plants will naturalize in the garden over time by cormlets and self-seeding. Although corms may be left in the ground year-round in USDA Zones 7-10, it is believed by many gardeners that plants in these areas will flower best if corms are dug annually there as well. In St. Louis, corms must be lifted in fall each year prior to the first significant frost. Dig up corms, cut off stems and leaves, dry corms in a warm location, discard any diseased or damaged corms, dust with fungicide and store them in a cool but dry location (45-50 degrees F) for winter.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus, commonly called Byzantine gladiolus, is native to the Mediterranean area. It is a bulbous perennial that features narrow sword-shaped basal leaves in a fan of 3-5 and erect flowering spikes to 24" tall featuring flowered racemes (to 15 flowers each) of funnel-shaped, purple-magenta to maroon to copper-red flowers (each to 1-3" long). Flowers bloom in late spring to early summer. Genus name comes from the Latin word (gladius) meaning sword in reference to the leaf shape.

Genus name comes from the Latin word for a small sword in allusion to the shape of the leaves. The plants are also sometimes called sword-lilies but people generally use the Latin plural gladioli.

Specific epithet means common or general.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for fusarium rot, gray mold (Botrytis), aster yellows and rust. Thrips can cause significant problems. Aphids may appear. Taller flowering stems appreciate staking or support (may fall over if exposed to strong winds or rain).

Garden Uses

Sunny beds and borders.