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  • Writer's pictureKatherine Aleem

Flower of the Month: August: Meet the Gladiolus

Much like birth stones, everyone has a birth flower based on the month in which they were born and many months even have two. The birth flowers are said to symbolize the character traits of those born in that month as spoken in the language of flowers...much like how zodiac signs carry similar interpretations. The month of August happens to have two: the poppy and the gladiolus.

So, let's take a moment to meet one of August's birth flowers, the gladiolus, and I have to say it's a beauty. It's an eye-catching, tall, long stemmed flower with a gorgeous sword-like structure and large trumpet shaped blooms running along nearly its entire length. It also comes in a veritable rainbow of colors, including yellow, pink, red, purple, and even green.

Each gladiolus produces a 3 to 4 foot flower spike with up to 20 large florets each. The height of the gladiolus as well as its large blossoms means this flower will instantly add drama to both gardens and cut flower arrangements. Well, since cut flower arrangements are my primary focus here at KMA Floral Arrangements, I am going to focus primarily on the latter as we go on.

As birth flowers, gladioli are said to convey strength, integrity, infatuation and

remembrance, and depending on how they are used in a flower arrangement, you can really see why. Gladioli look amazing whether they are used in a single flower arrangement or as part of a multi-bloom arrangement in a complementary color palette. You can highlight their range of colors and height by creating a rainbow of gladioli in a rectangular vessel. You can use them for added height and dimension in a dramatic monochromatic arrangement. Even a single stalk of gladiolus in a bud vase makes a delicate statement thanks in part to its soft, silky blossoms. Gladioli are truly a diverse flower for cut flower arrangements as their appearance can change from bold and strong with long spear-like stalks or soft and romantic when the unopened buds of the gladioli are removed. These flowers make a wonderful addition to really any arrangement, and they can be found gracing tablescapes and large installations alike at variety of events from corporate to birthday parties to funeral memorials.

One important characteristic of a gladiolus that should be taken into consideration when using them for floral arrangements is that the buds open to full blossom one at a time, starting from the bottom of the shaft. So if you are looking to to increase the longevity of your arrangement, a freshly cut gladiolus with only two to three open buds can have a vase life of six to 12 days.

There are several simple steps that you can follow to extend the life of your cut gladioli. First, always dissolve commercial flower food in your vase's water before adding any flowers. Second, remove all foliage below the water line. Otherwise, you may end up with water rot, which will quickly diminish your arrangement's shelf life. Third, cut the stems of the gladioli with a non-serrated knife while they are submerged under water and always cut your fresh flowers at an angle to allow for maximum water absorption. When you change the vase's water, you can recut the stems. Gladioli, like all flowers, are sensitive to temperature and light. They love warm weather, so where the arrangement is placed within a room can greatly extend or reduce its shelf life. If the room is warm or the flowers are in direct sunlight, then the gladioli blossoms will be encouraged to open. However, once all of the blooms have opened, then it will extend the life of your flowers to move the arrangement to somewhere cooler or away from direct sunlight.

As you might have guessed, I am a little obsessed with gladioli at the moment. The colors, the shape, the drama (oh! the drama), and the diverse ways in which they can be used make them a late summer favorite for me.

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