This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
The genus Gladiolus now comprehends many brilliant species and varieties, and is fast increasing in interest with the floral world. The variety of colours, together with the beauty of its varied stripes and markings, and its graceful habit, recommend it as well worthy the attention of the florist or amateur. Like most bulbous plants, Gladioli thrive and flower with less care than most florists' flowers. Being: comprised of early and late kinds, they blossom at various seasons of the year: the earliest sorts commence flowering in June when planted in the open air, and many of the late kinds continue in blossom up to the very approach of winter. They are perfectly hardy, and may be grown in any common garden soil not retentive of moisture; but should the soil be heavy where they are intended to be planted, it should be removed to a depth of about two feet, and replaced by a light rich soil, composed of a mixture of sandy loam and leaf-mould, or sandy loam and peat, allowing six or nine inches for the drainage.
The early varieties, which flower in June and July, are best planted in October and November; the later sorts may be put in from November to January or February, and the varieties of Flori-bundus and Gandavensis from January to March.
The Colvillii kinds come very early into flower; they are of taller growth than others of the early sorts, and are of erect, slender habit. They include Colvillii, Colvillii blandus, Colvillii superbus, odoratus, tristis, and others; they are succeeded by a more numerous class, which generally commence flowering about two weeks later; the latter are composed of varieties varying from a foot to a foot and a half in height; they comprise great diversity of colours. Of these, the following are very beautiful and showy:
Albus, striped with bright pink on a clear white ground, and having lemon spots.
Curvijlorus, rose-colour, with white and lemon stripes.
Dobrii, a fine rich crimson scarlet.
Herbertii, deep rose, with white and crimson stripes.
Habranthus robustus, fleshy pink, with white and crimson stripes.
Insignis, a very large flowering variety, of a rich rose-colour.
Loddigesii, a fine deep pink striped with crimson and white.
Minerva, beautiful deep rosy red striped with white, and continues to flower longer than most of the early kinds.
Rex rubrorum, a new variety, of a rich dark colour, with beautifully expanding petals and fine-shaped flower.
Venus, delicate cream-colour, beautifully marked with pink.
The following varieties are later, and mostly commence flowering about the end of July, or in August; they are of stronger habit than the preceding kinds, and exceedingly rich, though not so varied in their colours as the earlier sorts. They produce a longer succession of flowers; many of them throw up lateral spikes of bloom to the latest period of autumn; and vigorous plants, lifted and potted, continue to bloom during the winter. Of the above character are:
Prince of Wales, a very splendid variety, of a rich scarlet-colour.
Queen Victoria, rich scarlet and crimson.
Speciosus, fine scarlet striped with white.
J'ittellinus, bright rosy scarlet, with white stripes.
Formosissimus, rich crimson striped with white.
Ramosus, shaded rose, large and fine.
Robin Hood, clear pink, with white stripes.
Rosa Mundi, rose striped with white, and having a purple shade.
The varieties of Floribundus, Gandavensis, and other late tall-growing varieties, chiefly come later into flower than most of the above. Of these, Splendens is a very noble variety, of a rich orange scarlet, with much larger flowers than Gandavensis. Psittacinus sanguineus is a good dark one. Brenchleyensis is another splendid addition to this class.
For pot-culture the Gladiolus is very suitable, making a beautiful show among other plants in the greenhouse or conservatory, and, where a large collection is kept, some may be had in flower nearly all the year round. In potting, the roots should not be cramped; they require a fair portion of pot-room. Sandy loam and peat, or leaf-mould, or any light rich soil, the pots being well drained, suits them well. When first planted, as is the case with most other bulbs, they will not bear forcing; they should be allowed to progress gradually, by placing them in a cool frame or pit, and keeping the soil in a tolerably dry state till they have made considerable growth; after which they may be brought into the greenhouse, or where they are required to flower. They make fine specimens when planted several bulbs in a pot.
This lovely tribe of plants opens a wide field for the hybridist, and the amateur would find it an interesting engagement, in which his skill and time would be richly rewarded. In endeavouring to obtain crosses, the choice should not only be directed to the colour and size of the flowers, but chiefly to their expanding habit and breadth of petals; for although there are many fine sorts which do not possess each of these latter qualities, yet they should be the points to be aimed at in our progress towards the improvement of the tribe. Seedlings of the early varieties usually flower the second summer after sowing, and the later varieties the third.
Seed and Horticultural Establishment, Sudbury, Suffolk, Sept. loth.