Gladiolus communis is a hardy, showy border-flower, of which there are several varieties in cultivation, viz., white, purple, and red. They should be planted in October, on a rich sandy soil, about two and a half inches deep, and require little protection, except the purple variety. They have a flag-like foliage, and produce their flowers on long, one-sided spikes, or racemes, about two feet high, in June and July. The bulbs have some resemblance to those of the crocus, and are treated in the same way.
Gladiolus byzanteum is also hardy, and requires the same treatment; flowers purplish-red. The Gladiolus family includes many brilliant species and varieties; most of them green-house plants. Many of them, however, succeed well in the open ground, when planted in the border in May; but it is necessary to take them up in October, and keep the roots dry, and from the frost, till the time of planting again. All the species delight in a rich, light, sandy loam, and should not be planted more than one and a half inch under the surface.
Gladiolus natalensis, called by some psittacinus, has not been known many years among us, and was considered, when first introduced, as being very superb; but it has such a propensity to increase, that it has become very common, and is now looked upon with indifference. The flowers are scarlet, on a greenish-yellow ground, produced in long, one-sided spikes; the stems sometimes four feet high, with fifteen or twenty buds and blooms. In perfection in August.
G. natalensis has, within a few years, been eclipsed by the magnificent variety, G. gandavensis, producing long spikes of the most vivid scarlet flowers. I have had flowering sterns four and five feet high, which threw out a succession of spikes of its rich and brilliant Blossoms.
G. floribunda is another beautiful species, with a profusion of delicate pink flowers, marked with purple, about two or three feet high, in August. The treatment of all the tender varieties is similar; if they are planted in pots, forwarded in a hot bed, and turned into the open ground in June, they flower earlier, and grow stronger.
There are other beautiful species and varieties, one of which is G. cardinalis, with scarlet flowers spotted with white, but most of them do not succeed well in the open ground.