This post is part of a 12-month series exploring birth flowers. Start here for an introduction and for a full list of all months.
Ah, August, those dog days of summer. Hot, sunny days and warm, sultry evenings just made for a sprawling chaise and a cold glass of something delicious. Did you know that the term “dog days” doesn’t refer to our furry friends but to a star?
It is the period during which Sirius, the dog star, rises and falls in conjunction with the sun. But that’s not all that Mother Nature has to offer for August. If you were born in August, your gemstone is sardonyx or peridot, your star sign is Leo or Virgo depending on which end of the month you were born, and your birth month flower is as bright and bold as you are.
It’s a member of the Iris family and impossible to ignore – the dauntless and striking gladiolus.
August Birth Month Flower: Gladiolus
The gladiolus, with its trumpet-like blooms, comes into its full glory in mid to late summer just in time for all those August birthdays. Colors include pink, red, purple, lavender, burgundy, white, yellow, and even green.
If you’ve been following along with this series, it won’t surprise you to learn that different colors have different meanings. Purple for grandeur, white for virtue, yellow for joy, orange for passion, and too many more to list! Generally speaking, this pretty bloom is imbued to its core with character, strength, and wisdom.
In fact, its nickname is “sword lily,” for its appearance, and because it was traditionally worn around the necks of Roman gladiators during battle.
If you’re lucky enough to claim this flower as your birthright, you’re said to be highly intelligent, goal-oriented and a natural born leader. Your charm and integrity gain you respect in whatever circles you’re in. August babies are said to grow up fiercely independent, with a strong moral code and a generous heart.
And with all the color options to choose from, you’re bound to find some trait that fits! From imagination to friendship, modesty to enthusiasm, this captivating flower is as diverse and intriguing as the people it represents!
Gladiolus Through History
Like other flowers in this series, the gladiolus is steeped in mythology. In one Greek myth, the showy bloom grew where the slain body of Hyacinthus lay when he was accidentally killed by Apollo.
In another, the Greek goddess Demeter loved a sacred grove so much that she became quite upset when an evil man stole firewood from it. When her acolytes tried to stop the man, he cut of their heads. Demeter made the gladiolus grow from their spilled blood, “sword” flowers to protect her realm. She then punished the man by turning his daughter into a gladiolus so she could watch over the slain men.
A bit dramatic, perhaps, but fitting for this audacious bloom!
It’s been used throughout history as a poultice to draw out thorns, as a remedy for colic, and as a talisman to ward off evil spirits. If you want to add a few more August babies to the world, it is also said that the upper roots inspire lustful passions.
Want To Plant Them?
Gladiolus is no shrinking violet! They prefer full sun and sandy, well-drained soil. They grow from corms, which are similar to bulbs, and should be planted in spring after the frost. Plant too early and you risk damage or rot. Keep them well watered but be sure not to let them sit in wet soil.
They will need to be overwintered indoors, or you can simply plant new ones each spring. They make excellent container plants so if you do plan to bring them inside, this is a great option.
Their height makes them excellent border plants along fences or garden edges. You can also use them to add dimension and to fill in spaces in your existing flowerbed. Since they bloom later in the season, you can look forward to their stately stalks when other flowers are fading. They attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, adding an extra dimension to the beauty of your landscape.
They are also prized as cut flowers, making an eye-catching addition to centerpieces and floral arrangements. Cut them in early morning and stick to stalks that only have their lower flowers open. The upper flowers will continue to open over the next several days, extending your enjoyment.
And as an added bonus, you can eat what you grow! Gladiolus is similar to lettuce in flavor so toss it in a salad or put it on your ham and cheese sandwich for a beautiful and tasty lunch.
Bonus Flower: Poppy
If you love all the symbolism in gladiolus but still want more, you’re in luck. August has a second birth flower, and it’s the poppy. Their stalks produce the infamous sap that is turned into opium, but most of us use its seeds in lemon cake and muffins.
Like the gladiolus, the poppy is also associated with the goddess Demeter. It was said that if poppies grew in a field, an excellent harvest would follow. These days, red poppies are used to memorialize veterans and honor military personnel.
And of course it played a starring role in The Wizard Of Oz, filling a field that the Wicked Witch used to make Dorothy fall asleep.
If you claim this flower as your own, you are said to be imaginative, fun and creative. Like the bold colors of this flower, you tend to make a statement with everything you do, and you love it when people notice! You’re not afraid to try new things and you’re charming and warm enough to bring others along for the ride.
What do you think of August’s flowers? Which of these personality traits did you see in yourself?
If you love these flowers or any flower, why not book a consultation with us so we can talk about bringing your garden to life? We’ll work with you to plan a four-season garden that you can live in and love all year long.
More In This Series
Stay tuned for a new flower each month throughout the year!