Gladioli: Beautiful, proud, tall flowers. We commonly recognize them by their striking stems and large, abundant flowers that grow in vibrant colors. As August’s prized flower, they have much more to give than just their beauty. What exactly is the gladiolus meaning and symbolism?
Etymological Meaning of the Gladiolus Flower
The gladiolus has a long history of symbolism. In ancient Rome, it was believed that the gladiolus represented the soul of the deceased, which would rise from the grave at night to visit its loved ones. It was also associated with the god Mercury, who carried a golden torch and wore a cap adorned with a pair of gladiolus flowers. The word gladiolus comes from the Greek words gladios, meaning sword, and ollon, meaning ear. This is because the gladiolus was used as an ornamental garden plant or for decoration on swords and shields in ancient times.
Gladiolus History and Culture
The gladiolus (Hemerocallis) is a member of the lily family native to China, Japan, India, and Southeast Asia. The Romans introduced it into Europe during their conquest of Greece in 146 B.C., where it became popular among the aristocracy. Today, the gladiolus is grown worldwide as both a cut flower and a houseplant. In the United States, the gladiolus grows wild throughout the country. However, most are cultivated in greenhouses and gardens. There are over 300 cultivars available today, ranging from single-petalled to double-petaled varieties. Some of the more common types include:
- Double Gladiolus – These have two petals per bloom. They have often been considered the best variety for cutting.
- Single Gladiolus – These are usually white, but many different colors are available.
- Double White Gladiolus – These come in a wide range of colors, including pink, purple, red, orange, yellow, and cream.
- Red Gladiolus – A classic red gladiolus.
- Orange Gladiolus – An orange variety of the gladiolus.
- White Double Gladiolus – It is similar to the single white gladiolus, except that it has two sets of petals.
- Yellow Double Gladiolus – A bright yellow variety of the gladioli.
- White Single Gladiolus – Also known as a “single white,” these are similar to the double white gladiolus in appearance.
- Pink Double Gladiolus – Pink gladiolus with two sets of petals on each bloom.
- Pink Red Gladiolus – A beautiful rose-pink gladiolus.
The History of the Gladiolus
In ancient Rome, gladioli were used to honor victorious generals. They symbolized strength and moral integrity, which is why they’re often associated with weddings. Today, gladioli are still popular at weddings because they convey the idea that the couple has captured the hearts of all who see them together.
During the 19th century, gladioli were commonly planted in front yards and along fences to protect homes from lightning strikes. In 1867, the first gladiolus bulb catalog was published. Since then, the gladiolus has become one of the world’s most popular cut flowers.
Gladioli were once thought to represent the souls of the dead. Because of this belief, they were sometimes placed near graves to help guide the departed back home. The gladiolus meaning and symbolism was also associated with the gods’ Apollo and Dionysius, who were said to carry torches made of gladiolus flowers to light their way. According to legend, when the sun god Helios saw how beautiful his daughter, the nymph Callisto, was, he fell in love with her. He transformed himself into a bear and hid in a cave to hide his feelings. One day, he left the cave to hunt and accidentally stepped on some grass. This caused him to release his true form and immediately recognize his beloved daughter. He took her hand and led her away from the cave. When she asked what would happen if someone else came upon them while he was in bear form, he told her that no one could harm her. She agreed to marry him, and they had children named Hyacinthus, Zephyr, and Naiads. Today, the gladiolus remains an integral part of Greek culture. Greeks believe that the gladiolus represents the soul of the deceased. On the third day after death, the soul is supposed to leave the body and travel through the air until it reaches its final destination. If the soul does not reach its destination before sunset, it will be forced to return to earth. While the soul travels, the family members place gladioli around the house to keep the spirit company.
In ancient Rome, it was believed that if a man wore a gladiolus, he would never die from grief. It was also thought that wearing a gladiolus would prevent you from being struck by lightning.
Gladiolus Meaning and Symbolism
A gladiolus symbolizes love, loyalty, and friendship. It represents a strong bond between two people and is often used to celebrate anniversaries. The flower has long been associated with romance, friendship, and hope. It also represents faithfulness and loyalty. Gladioli are especially significant to those who have recently lost a loved one. Planted near the gravesite, they will remind you of your friend or relative. If you want to express your grief, consider planting gladioli around your house or other sympathy flowers.
What Does a Red Gladiolus Mean?
A red gladiolus means that you’re feeling strong, confident, and passionate. This flower symbolizes love, friendship, and loyalty. It represents the power of attraction and desire. The color red symbolizes energy and vitality.
What Does a Yellow Gladiolus Symbolize?
The yellow gladiolus symbolizes friendship and loyalty. It represents the love between two people who share a special bond. The meaning is not very different from other yellow flowers.
What Does an Orange Gladiolus Symbolize?
Gladiolus flowers symbolize love, friendship, loyalty, and commitment. The orange color represents joy and happiness. This flower is associated with the sun and the zodiac sign Cancer. It is believed that the orange gladiolus flower has magical powers, and it brings luck and prosperity.
What Does a White Gladiolus Symbolize?
A white gladiolus means that the person who sent it loves you deeply. It symbolizes purity and innocence. The color white represents hope and faithfulness. The flowers are striking and beautiful. They convey love, joy, and happiness.
What Does a Blue Gladiolus Symbolize?
The blue gladiolus is often used as a symbol of love and affection. This symbolic association has led to its inclusion in many wedding ceremonies. It is also associated with the Greek god Eros, who was said to inspire romantic love.
What Does a Purple Gladiolus Symbolize?
A purple gladiolus symbolizes friendship, loyalty, and love. It also represents happiness, joy, and success. This flower is a great way to express gratitude, appreciation, and thanksgiving.
What Do Gladiolus Smell Like?
The smell of gladioli is sweet and spicy, with hints of citrus and vanilla. Sometimes, the aroma resembles that of orange blossoms.
How Long Does a Gladiolus Last?
Gladioli last for about three weeks indoors and six weeks outdoors. They should be watered regularly during dry spells. Once the foliage begins to wither, it’s time to remove them from the garden. You can keep the bulbs alive by placing them in water until you’re ready to plant them again next spring.