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Gladiolus papilio

butterfly sword lily

G. papilio is a clump-forming perennial to 1m, with narrow, grey-green leaves. From summer to autumn, arching flower stems bear up to ten hooded flowers, flushed white and lilac-purple on the outside, with purple and yellow markings on the inside of the lower petals

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Size
Ultimate height
0.5–1 metres
Time to ultimate height
2–5 years
Ultimate spread
0.1–0.5 metres
Growing conditions
Chalk
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Moist but well–drained, Well–drained
pH
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring Green
Summer Purple White Yellow Green
Autumn Purple White Yellow
Winter
Position
  • Full sun
Aspect

South–facing or West–facing or East–facing

Exposure
Sheltered
Hardiness
H4
Botanical details
Family
Iridaceae
Native to the UK
No
Foliage
Deciduous
Habit
Columnar upright
Genus

Gladiolus are cormous perennials with fans of sword-shaped or linear leaves and spikes of funnel-shaped flowers

Name status

Correct

Plant range
S E South Africa

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How to grow

Cultivation

Plant 10 to 16cm deep on a bed of sharp sand in fertile, well-drained soil. Lift when foliage dies back, discard old corms and store new corms in a dry frost-free place until planting in the spring. In milder areas a thick dry winter mulch may suffice

Propagation

Propagate by separating cormlets when dormant

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • Cottage and informal garden
  • Flower borders and beds
  • Cut flowers
Pruning

No pruning required

Pests

Susceptible to thrips, aphids and slugs

Diseases

Susceptible to grey moulds and gladiolus corm rot

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