Gladiolus, one of the most popular flowers with magnificent inflorescence is a bulbous flowering plant. The name 'Gladiolus' is derived from the Latin word gladius meaning sword, representing the shape of the leaf which resembles that of a sword.

Gladiolus is grown from corms for cut flowers as well as garden decoration. It appears that the flower was introduced into cultivation towards the end of the 16th century. Gladiolus is the most suitable cut-flower due to its long keeping quality. In India its cultivation dates back to 19th century. Firminger's manual of Gardening (1868) has mentioned the gladiolus cultivation in India. Gladiolus flowers are in demand for their elegant attractive spikes of different hues and good keeping quality. Gladiolus can be easily grown with a little care and attention in beds for garden decoration and cut flower production and also in pots for interior and outdoor decoration. In India, gladiolus has become a very popular flower and millions and millions of spikes are being sold every year. Gladiolus can be classified into three groups on the basis of time to flower from the date of planting of corms - a) Early (flowering within 60 days), b) Medium (between 60-90 days) and c) Late (more than 90 days).

In the plains, gladiolus flowers are available during the winter months only. Very high temperature during the summer days may adversely affect the flower spikes. In the hilly areas (upto 2000) meters) with moderate summer, the gladiolus can be grown for almost throughout the year. The gladiolus crop may be affected by frost in that places where winter is severe. For proper development of flowers, gladiolus is dependent on ample light, suitable temperature and adequate soil moisture.

Gladiolus can be grown in a wide range of soils from a light sandy to a clay loam. Light textured soils, rich in organic matter, at least 30 cm deep, well drained and friable, is considered to be the best for growing gladiolus. Good drainage is the chief requirement and poorly drained soil restricts growth. The land should be thoroughly prepared by digging the soil to a depth of 50-60 cm. Application of well decomposed FYM @ kg per m2 will enrich the soil and will also improve the moisture holding capacity of the soil. The beds should be irrigated a day in advance before planting the corms. This will help in planting the corms in a sufficiently moist soil.

Only the sprouted corms should be selected for planting. Corms which have passed the dormancy period (3-5 months after harvesting) should be selected for planting. The brown dry scales or the tunics, should be removed to encourage the sprouting. Before planting, the gladiolus corms should be disinfected properly to reduce the chance of disease attack. The disinfection of corms is done by submerging the corms in a solution of fungicide for about one hours.

Corms can be planted in two ways viz. on flat beds and ridges. For high rainfall areas, it is advisable to plant in ridges. Depending on the plantation method, approximately 40-50 corms per m2. As the corms start sprouting, earthing up is to be done gradually. The soil encircling the plant will help in keeping the plants erect.

Gladiolus plants require plenty of water during the entire growth period. The most critical period of water requirement, however, starts with the formation of third leaf and ends when the seventh leaf appears. Watering should be done early in the morning.To control the weeds, herbicides like glyphosate and paraquat may be applied to the soil one or two weeks in advance before planting corms to control the weeds.

Gladiolus is usually a seven month crop. The harvesting of corms is usually carried out during October-November in the hills and during April-May in plains. For quality corm and cormel production, the flowers should be sacrificed.
It is always preferable to cut the spikes in the morning hours. Immediately after cutting, the cut ends of the spikes should be kept dipped under water. Care should be taken that the cut spikes should always be kept in an upright position to prevent bending of the spikes. The cut spikes treated with different flower preservatives will extend the longevity of the flowers.