Mad About Glads! Tips for Arranging and Caring for Cut Gladioli

Talking gladioli with floral designer Rene van Rems.
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Photo By: Image courtesy of Lily Occasions

Photo By: Image courtesy of Lily Occasions

Photo By: Image courtesy of Lily Occasions

Photo By: Image courtesy of Lily Occasions

Photo By: Image courtesy of Lily Occasions

Photo By: Image courtesy of Lily Occasions

Photo By: Image courtesy of Lily Occasions

Photo By: Image courtesy of Lily Occasions

Photo By: Image courtesy of Lily Occasions

Photo By: Image courtesy of Lily Occasions

Of Great Import

According to Rene van Rems, Dutch-born and California-based floral designer and spokesperson for the Lily Occasions campaign, gladiolus come primarily from South Africa but are also native to the Canary Islands, England and Turkey.

Line Flowers

"In the world of flower design there are four categories: mass, filler, form and line flowers," van Rems says. "Gladioli are line flowers—long and skinny with movement. Curly willow, pussy willow and cattails fall into this category as well."

Bottoms Up!

While still in the ground, every flower on the gladiolus will bloom. "The bottom flower is always the largest and brightest on the stem, with another nine to 15 flowers above it," van Rems says. "Most 'glads,' as they are referred to in the trade, open to one side rather than all the way around the stem."

Floral Focus

For a modern arrangement, van Rems suggests using gladioli with curly willow but no other flowers. "This way the full impact of the color comes forward," he says.

Standing Tall

Glads play well with lilies in a classic bouquet. "When using gladioli with other flowers, always use glads as the long lines in the composition rather than cutting them short and the same length as the other flowers," van Rems says.

Beautiful View

Gladioli blooms are beautiful on their own. "You can cut open gladioli blooms in several pieces and use them as short flowers in a bowl so they look like single flowers in one design," van Rems says. "This way you can create a centerpiece without obstructing the view across the dining table."

Top Tip

Gladioli growers previously recommended breaking the tip of the flower off so they'd open fully, but that's not the case anymore. "Today, most glads are treated with flower food once harvested so they're fully 'pumped' with water when they get home," van Rems says. "Because of this, there is no need to remove the tip."

Contain the Joy

"The best container for gladioli is a heavy vase like ceramic or glass," van Rems says. "Vase height should be one third the total length of the flowers. Rocks, glass, pebbles and uncut ornamental fruit all make for great stabilizers."

Pocket That Packet

Don't throw out that packet of flower food! "The flower food has sugar, biocides and water acidifiers so that the water actually has a lower pH, thus being softer," van Rems says. "Soft water is absorbed by flower stem tissue much faster than hard water."

Drink In the View

When it comes to water, less is always more. "Less water equals fewer bacteria," van Rems says. "Gladioli love to drink, but don't put them in more than six inches of water."