Gladioli Meaning

Uncover Hidden Flowers meanings

As a plant with leaves that look very much like swords, it has long been referred to as the flower of the gladiators. 

Probably because of the sword shaped leaves, it can also mean severed ties. And if you want to a subtle way to convey someone the words “give me a break”, the gladiola is the best flower to give.  It means sincerity too in other circles.

Just like with many different flowers, the gladioli also has meaning on love.  Love at first sight is one of the meanings attached to this blossom.  Since it’s related to gladiators, it also represents strength of character.

  • Name:  Gladioli
  • Color:  Various colors are characteristic of the gladioli.  Pink flowers, red flowers and white flowers are very common. There are also gladioli with contrast markings.  For example, white flowers have cream or orange steaks on it.
  • Shape:  Because the gladiolus flowers are connected to a tube like stem, the flowers usually have the shape of a funnel.
  • Fact:  The gladiolus takes its name from the word gladius.  It’s Latin meaning sword.  This mainly refers to the shape of the leaves of the gladiolus.
  • Poisonous:  Yes.  The most dangerous part of the gladiolus is the bulb.  If handled in the wrong way and sap gets on your skin, it can cause skin irritation.
  • Number of Petals:  A gladiolus flower has three petals although the petals look very similar to the sepals, it can be a bit difficult to count them out.  This is why others can say that the gladiolus has five tepals.
  • Blossom Time:  Gladiolus plants produce flowers easily and so you can have a nice garden of gladioli as long as the weather is cool and dry.  However, the most conducive season for this plant to bloom is autumn.

Victorian Interpretation: 

Because the leaves of this plant look like a sword, it was given the name gladiolus. And since swords are one of the weapons of choice of most gladiators, the gladiolus is also known as the flower of the gladiators.  But if you go deeper into the message that the gladioli conveys, it also means sincerity.  Another meaning is “give me a break”.


The superstitions that relate to the gladiolus plant have more to do with its medicinal properties.  It is said that if the roots of the gladiolus are mashed and applied to areas of the skin where splinters or thorns have gone in, it’s going to draw these foreign objects out.  And mixing the dried gladiolus seed pods with goat’s milk was believed to be a remedy for colic.

  • The Shape: The flowers have a funnel shape essentially because of the way it’s connected to the tube like stem.  The leaves also take the spotlight when it comes to shape.  The gladiolus leaves are sword shape.
  • Petals: There is much debate about how many petals the gladiolus really has.  The bottom line is that, its petals and sepals look alike.  But generally, gladiolus flowers have three petals that can have solid colors on them or bi-colors.
  • Numerology: The expression number for gladioli is 6.  Venus is its symbolic planet.  It relates to protection, nurturing and responsibility.
  • Color:  What make gladiolus flowers very pretty are their contrasting colors.  White gladioli can have pink or red markings – which add charm and beauty to the flower.

Herbalism and Medicine:  

Even if the superstitious beliefs about the gladiolus being a cure for colic has been debunked, it still has a number of characteristics that play a part in the field of medicine.  In Africa, gladioli are used for treating colds, diarrhea and constipation.

By Flo Saul
Aug 20, 2012