College graduation is a victorious occasion for a young woman, so celebrate the day with flowers that represent strength of character and victory…gladiolus. Sometimes referred to as “Glads” or Sword Flower for their long, tapered shape, the Latin name Gladiolus spp. comes from the word for the short swords Roman gladiators carried into battle. Unlike many other dainty flower choices available in bouquets, these magnificent blooms are tall and proud and will remind your grad to always stand with her head up and eyes forward. Upright, long-blooming, and delicate at the same time, gladiolus are the perfect statement for a young woman who has accomplished her educational goals and is ready for the challenges that lie ahead.
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Native to the Mediterranean and southern Africa, these perennial blooms are in the iris family, which is associated with wisdom in the language of flowers and can come in a wide range of colors. Reds and bright oranges make a strong statement, though the soft, spring colors of peach, lavender or white may be more appropriate for a spring graduation. One newer hybrid of gladiolus comes in a bright green, which looks lovely paired with the pink and yellow varieties or mixed with stargazer liliesand a bit of curly willow.
Is your grad an art major? Red gladiolus were a favorite subject of Van Gogh. A biology major? White gladiolus are a favorite food of the hummingbird-like Hawk Moth. Genetics? Why not give her some of the new tetraploid hybrids of Gladiolus dalenii, which come with double rows of petals and multiple colors on each bloom.
Typically cut as stems between 3 and 4 feet tall, these flowers grow from corms and are available through a florist all year round. With one or two flat leaves at the base, these stalks rise tall with between 9-12 blooms arranged all the way to the top. Choose stems that are just beginning to bloom, with the bottom few flowers already open and large. Stems that have open flowers only at the very tip will not last as ones that are just starting to open at the base. The buds arranged up the stem will open into trumpet-shaped blooms over the course of the next week, providing a different look each day as they make their way to the top.
A tall bunch of gladiolus are the perfect message to send a young woman about to make her way in the world. Send her off like a warrior, and not a shrinking violet, with these beautiful stems.