Gladiolus popularly is known as ‘Sword Lily’ or ‘Corn Flag’, is an ornamental bulbous plant, native to South Africa. Among floral crops grown in India, it occupies a prime position in commercial floriculture and is largely cultivated for the production of cut-flowers. Its magnificent spikes, in a wide array of pleasing colors and patterns, remain fresh for a long time as cut-flower and are in great demand for making bouquets, besides floral arrangements for interior decoration.
Classification of Varieties
Based on Flowering period
- Early Flowering
- Late Flowering
Based on Height
- Dwarf – Plants attaining height up to 50 cm.
- Medium – Plants attaining height from 50 to 100 cm
- Tall – Plants taller than 100 cm
Based on Flower size(diameter of the lowest floret, withour spreading or flattening any petal)
- Miniature Gladiolus – Floret diameter below 6.4 cm
- Small Gladiolus – Floret diameter 6.4 to 8.9 cm
- Medium Gladiolus – Florest diameter 8.9 to 11.4 cm
- Large Gladiolus – Floret diameter 11.4 to 14 cm
- Giant Gladiolus – Floret diameter above 14 cm
Based on Time taken to Bloom
- Early season – Blooming within 60 days after planting corms.
- Mid season – Blooming within 60 to 90 days after panting corms.
- Late season – Blooming within 90 days after planting corms.
Agro-Technology for Commercial cultivation
The agro-technology for commercial cultivation of gladiolus for the production of cut-flowers under sub-tropical conditions, as prevalent in the North Indian plains, is detailed below :
Site: An open sunny place, away from the shade of trees and buildings is most suitable for commercial cultivation.
Soil: Well-drained, deep, sandy loam soil is considered best for its cultivation. Sandy soil is also good if proper cultural practices are followed. Heavy clay soil, with poor damage by excessive soil moisture content. Soil pH from 6.5 to 7.5 is quite suitable for having good performance fo the crop.
Field preparation: The soil should be thoroughly pulverized by ploughing/digging 30 to 45 cm deep and kept open to the sun for at least 15 days. After removing the weeds, the field should be ploughed repeatedly and levelled subsequently. It is recommended that green manuring should be done especially for commercial cultivation. This helps in improving the soil nutritional status, texture, besides suppressing weeds.
Preparation of Beds: For optimizing space utilization for commercial cultivation, beds of standard size (10 x 1.5 m) as per model layout plan are prepared after plowing the soil, at least 15 days prior to the planting of corms. A divider of 0.45 m width is kept in between beds for proper management. A total of 160 beds of equal size are laid out in two blocks with a central passage of 4 m width in an area of one acre.
Aldebaran, American Beauty, Big Time Supreme, Deciso, Friendship Pink, Frienship white, Nuvalux, Oscar, Priscilla, Red Beauty, Tropic sea, Venetie, White Goddess, White Prosperity, Yellow Stone, Zeus, etc.
The ideal season for planting the main crop under sub0tropical condition is from mid-october to mid-Novembe. However, for continued supply of spikes, staggered planting at 10 to 15 days interval may be done after the onset of monsoon from July onwards.
For optimum performance, it is advisable to use healthy corms, measuring 4 to 5 cm in diameter. The bigger size corms called ‘ Jumbo’ 6 to 8 cm in diameter, are good for getting top quality flowers.
Before planting, the corms should be dipped in a fungicide solution(Bavistin 0.02%) for at least half an hour. The treated corms are planted in well-prepared beds 8 to 10 cm deep at a distance of 30×20 cm accommodating 250 corms per bed or 40000corms per acre. To ensure healthy plant growth, insecticides Thimet 10 G/Furandon 3 G @ 2g/sq.m should be applied between the rows at the time of planting corms.
For enriching the soil, well-rotted cattle dung manure/FYM is applied @ 5 kg/sq.m in case green manuring has been done earlier. In addition, an application of single superphosphate and muriate of potash eash 200 g/sq.m area as a basal dose 15 days prior to the planting of corms is also needed. Top dressing of urea @100 g/sq.m is given 45 days after planting for obtaining better flowering and corm production.
Light irrigation is given, just after planting corms, to set them properly in the ground. Subsequently, irrigation is given at an interval of 10 to 15 days depending upon the prevailing weather conditions. Watering should be gradually stopped on the cessation of plant growth as apparent by the yellowing of leaves for the maturation of corms and cormlets.
The field should be kept clean by regular weeding and hoeing. Earthing-up should be done when the plants are 20 to 30 cm in height. It helps to keep the plants erect by preventing lodging, besides promoting the development of better corms and cormlets.
Lifting of corms and cormlets
The development and maturation of corms and cormlets normally get completed 80 to 90 days after blooming under sub-tropical conditions. After flowering, when the leaves start turning yellow, it is advisable to twist the plants to hasten the process of drying of leaves. No irrigation should be given thereafter.
Corms and cormlets should be dug out carefully without any injury with the help of a trowel or khurpi. After lifting, these should be air-dried under the shade and cleaned by removing the soil, adhering to the corms and cormlets, before storage.
Storage of Corms and Cormlets
Proper storage of corms and cormlets is necessary for the perpetuation and planting of varieties in the next season. Under sub-tropical climatic conditions, the mode of storage of Gladiolus corms and cormlets is determined mainly by the hardiness. The corms of hardy varieties suitable for cultivation in the North Indian Plains can be stored well at room temperature.
Alternatively, the corms and cormlets are stored in cold storage at 10 to 15 deg C.
Harvesting and Packaging
Harvesting and Handling: Gladiolus spikes are ready for harvesting from 60 to 90 days after planting corms, depending upon the varieties and weather conditions. Spikes should be cut at the tight bud stage, with one or two pairs of leaves and 1 to 3 floral buds showing the color. The spikes should be cut with a sharp knife either early in the morning or in the evening and their cut ends should immediately be immersed in water.
Grading and Pulsing: Spikes may be graded into three lots, based on overall quality, type of varieties, spike length and number of florets. After grading they should be bunched in units in required numbers. They are kept upright in the cold storage at 4 to 8 deg C until packed for transportation. Modest increase in the life of Gladiolus flowers has been gained by pulsing with sucrose (20 %) + 8 Hydroxyquinoline citrate(200 ppm).
Packaging, Storing, and Transportation: Graded spikes should not be stored for more than 24 hours before they are packed and transported. These should be kept at a minimum temperature of 4°C, as floral buds of many varieties will not open well when stored at a lower temperature.
Bundles of 12 spikes/unit and bulk pack are packed in Field views of ribbed cardboard boxes and transported to Commercial cultivation their destinations. They remain fresh during of Gladiolus transits for 1-3 days, depending upon the weather conditions.
Domestic Market: There is a huge domestic market especially in the big cities. With improvements in the agro-technoloy extending blooming period from one month to seven months, and transportation faciities avialble in the country, the Gladiioluscut-spikes remain available for sake in the market and floral shops almost throughout the year in metropolitan cities of India.
The Gladiolus cur-spikes fetch the best proce in the market from November to May when their demand is a the peak due to marriages, festivals and other official functions. On an average, the rpice in the wholesale floral market for “A” grade spikes ranges from Rs.400 to 600 per hundred and in the retail market from Rs. 60 to 120 per dozen, depending upon the season and the quality of spikes.
Export Market: There are enough opportunities for export of Gladiolus cut-spikes to various international destinations particularly the Middle-east countries but this needs strengthening and proper planning.
Upon arrival at the destination, 2.5 cm long basal ends for the spikes should be cut off and the spikes placed in fresh water free of salts and fluorides preferable with sucrose. It is advisable to store the spikes in air-conditioned chambers for sale.
Cost economics of Commercial Cultivation per acre
Layout details : 160 beds (10 x 1.5 m)
Total corms planted : 40,000 ( 250 corms per bed; planted 30 x 20 cm apart)
Total expenditure: Rs. 2,82,406.00
40,000 Gladiolus spikes
|Rs.2.5 per spike||1,00,000.00|
|Corms and Cormlets|
a. 60,000 corms
b. One quintal cormlets
|Rs. 4 each|
Rs. 100 per kg
|Net profit per acre||67,594.00|
History of Gladiolus in India
In India, the cultivation of Gladiolus dates back to the 19th century. Earlier its cultivation was confined to the temperate and mild climatic regions of the country viz., Srinagar(Jammu and Kashmir), Shimla, Chaubattia and Supi, Kalimpong and Darjeeling, Shillong, Jorhat, Pune, Bangalore and Ooty, due to the lack of promising varieties and appropriate agro-technology suitable for cultivation under sub-tropical conditions, as prevalent in North Indian Plains.
With the development and selection of suitable varieties, besides standardization of agro-technology for cultivation, it has now been possible to grow a large number of exotic as well as Indian breed varieties commercially in the plains as open field cultivation.