Strength, Character, and Beauty: The Many Meanings Behind the Gladiolus Flower


Aug. 9 2023, Published 2:41 p.m. ET

Close-up of hummingbird and gladiolus.
Source: Getty Images

When deciding the types of flowers to include in your backyard garden area or an arrangement, most flowers have a common meaning or two to consider. Not only are gladiolus flowers gorgeous and unique, but they carry important symbolism. Here's a look at some of the most common gladiolus flower meanings.

Article continues below advertisement

Like dahlia flowers have unique meanings, including kindness and perseverance, and magnolias symbolize longevity and stability, gladiolus flowers are known for specific traits. Read on to find out how the gladiolus got its name, how to care for them, and whether they're poisonous!

Article continues below advertisement

Gladiolus flowers have several symbolic meanings.

According to, the gladiolus flower stands for strength and love. These majestic flowers tend to bloom most impressively during the final month of summertime. Other symbolic meanings that people have attributed to gladiolus flowers are victory, healing, honor, and moral character.

Here's another major symbolic meaning of the gladiolus, per it is a traditional gift in honor of the 40th wedding anniversary! So for long-lasting couples, consider giving the gladiolus to mark that special date.

Article continues below advertisement

When you're looking at giving gladiolus flowers, the color of the blooms is essential. Keep in mind these common meanings of various colors of gladiolus plants, according to Petal Republic:

  • Red: love, passion, romance
  • Yellow: happiness, friendship, positivity
  • Purple: grace, charm, mystery
  • White: purity, elegance
  • Pink: love, femininity, gentleness
huge green field of blooming multi-colored gladioli
Source: Getty Images
Article continues below advertisement

What is the meaning of the name "gladiolus"?

As Petal Republic explains, "gladiolus" originated from the Latin name gladius, meaning "little sword." What a fun piece of trivia to know since one look at a gladiolus plant will show you its sword-like appearance. According to the North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox, gladiolus plants go by other names: sword lily, gladiola, glads, and even Aunt Eliza Rat's Rail!

If someone gives you gladiolus flowers, you can enjoy them like any cut flower arrangement. If you receive them to plant outdoors, you can plant the corms every few weeks between March and May, according to Make sure they're placed in the sun with well-drained soil.

Article continues below advertisement

Here are some ideas of when to give gladiolus flowers as a gift.

Of course, you can refer to the common meanings of gladiolus flowers to get an idea of this, but here are some common occasions when people give these elegant sword-like blooms, per Petal Republic:

  • Red: Valentine's Day, anniversaries, birthdays
  • Yellow: job promotions, graduations, housewarming, illness
  • Purple: job promotions, housewarming, good luck
  • White: weddings, funerals, birthdays, religious ceremonies, anniversaries
  • Pink: anniversaries, birthdays, Mother's Day, date night
Close-up of white gladiolus.
Source: Getty Images
Article continues below advertisement

Are gladiolus flowers poisonous?

According to Michelson Found Animals Foundation, yes, gladiolus is a toxic plant for cats and dogs. The buds of the flower are the most toxic part, although if your cat or dog ingests any part of the gladiolus, they may experience diarrhea, vomiting, salivation, drooling, and lethargy.

Even when eating a plant-based diet, steer clear of gladiolus flowers since they're also toxic to humans if you consume them. But according to, they're not poisonous to touch, though it's a good idea to wear gloves in case of any skin irritation.

In short: gladiolus flowers are gorgeous to look at, but it's best to keep you and your furry friends from eating them!

More from Green Matters

Latest Home News and Updates

    Opt-out of personalized ads

    © Copyright 2024 Green Matters. Green Matters is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.