G. floribundus, is a beautiful variety or species; color shaded-rose, pink, or white. The flowers are very delicate, and produced in long crowded spikes. The growth is strong, and the bulb smaller than in any of the described species, except G. cardinalis.
Beautiful rose, marked with white and carmine. The bulbs are small, and if planted the last of May, will bloom well. The growth is much stronger than that of G. cardinalis.
From these different species have sprang the grand collection of hybrid Gladiolus, now so highly esteemed, which have been produced by amateurs and cultivators in Europe and imported into this country, many of the varieties at great expense, But we shall no longer be dependent on foreign cultivators for the production of splendid new varieties, for within the last two years Messrs. Strong, Spooner, and other gentlemen have exhibited new seedling varieties, some of them fully equal to any imported. These hybrids have often very valuable qualities, besides their beauty; they are frequently more hardy, and very often are more prolific in flowers than the originals, though in some cases they do not produce seeds. As the art of hybridizing is not generally known, it may be interesting to the reader to be made acquainted with the process, and I cannot present the subject in any clearer light than to adopt the description given by my late friend J. E. Teschemacker, in an article published in the Horticultural Register, in 1835, on the Gladiolus. He says:- "My way has been, when the flower just commenced opening, I open it very carefully, and then extract the anthers with a pair of tweezers or pincers, before they can have opened and shed their pollen on the pistil, which will then be found with the trifid divisions closed. As soon as the flower, thus deprived of its anthers, has opened and the styles have separated, take the ripened pollen from the anthers of the flower you wish to mix and impregnate with, either with a small piece of cotton, a camel's hair pencil, or the fine point of a penknife, and shed it on the styles so that it remains sticking there; this will impregnate the seed.
It is now, however, necessary to prevent this flower receiving, by the means of insects or the air, pollen from any other flowers of the same species, either of its own spike or from others; for this purpose, I have generally tied a piece of very fine gauze or India muslin over the flower, so as entirely to protect it from further impregnation.
When the petals are fading, it will be perceived, by the swelling of the seed vessel, whether the purpose in view has answered. Should it have been successful, I remove the muslin, and generally allow some of the other flowers of the spike to proceed in growing, to draw up the juices from the earth, but remove their seed vessels as they appear, in order to throw the whole strength of the plant into the hybridized seed; observing that the first and second flowers of a spike, if perfect, are more likely to succeed in this operation than those of later bloom.
It is probable that many varieties of the same flower, now considered a species, have been thus produced naturally; certainly very many beautiful additions to the flower-garden have been thus artificially brought into being. It may be readily imagined how amusing this employment is to the man of leisure, and to the gardener it has been for some years a source of large profits."
The Gladiolus is propagated by seed, or by offsets of the bulbs. Large ones may be taken out of the earth and kept in a dry place, but seedlings and small offsets should be left in the pots of earth if possible, they being more apt to dry up if removed; they must, however, be kept out of the reach of frost.
The seed should be sown, as soon as ripened, in boxes or pots, and placed in the green-house in a peaty soil, or it may be sown in March or April, in a hot-bed, with moderate heat; the seeds should be scarcely covered. When the plants appear, and the rays of the sun are strong in May, they should be shaded with mats. When the grass of the plants is two inches high, they may be repotted and plunged in the ground in June, so that the first year they may make the greatest possible growth. When the grass begins to grow yellow in autumn, the pots should be taken up and put in a dry warm place, and the earth remain upon the roots dry, during the winter; they may be planted out in the ground in May, after taking them from the pots. The third year the greater' part of them will show flowers.
I had prepared a descriptive list of about one hundred varieties of Hybrid Gladiolus, which were cultivated by me this present year, but as new varieties are produced annually, some of them are superseding the old sorts, it would not be a perfect guide for years to come, and I therefore leave it out.
I find that most of the varieties that have been planted for a number of years retain their distinctive characters; but in consequence of the severe drought, or some other cause, some of the varieties sported more or less. Some of the yellow sorts were inclined to be mottled or variegated with red. The variety, Marie, which, according to the description, should have a ground of pure white, was very much striped with red, so that it was difficult to recognize it without looking at the label. Some other varieties slightly departed from the description.