Introduction to August Birth Flowers
The gladiolus and the poppy are both vibrant, great-cut flowers. They also have a deep symbolism that ties them to the memory. Find out more about the significance of these flowers in August and some gardening suggestions!
What are the Birth Flowers for August?
Gladiolus, as the symbol of love and strength, adds height to the garden and provides a splash of color during the last month of summer. The flower is known best because of its red color and was immortalized by the poem written over 100 years ago. It has been a symbol of those who lost their lives in wartime.
Primary August Birth Flower: Gladiolus
The gladiolus belongs to the Iris family (Iridaceae). It is found in Africa, the Mediterranean, and southern Europe and includes over 300 species in various vibrant shades. Also called “sword lily,” the gladiolus’ name comes from its sword-like appearance leaves. “Gladiolus” comes from the Latin name gladius, which means “sword.” Roman Gladiators were known to wear flowers on their necks during competitions.
The stems appear in the early summer and produce 2 to 5 feet of foliage, according to the variety. They are classified into five categories that show the size of the flowers, ranging from large-flowered to miniature. From mid-to-late summer, trumpet-shaped flowers flower and open from the bottom upwards. The colors are white, red, pink, yellow, and purple.
Gladiolus Meanings and Symbolism
- The flower has been for a long time used as a symbol of power, victory, and healing, as well as respect. It has also been linked with morality, remembering, and wisdom.
- In Victorian times, romantics believed that the splendor of the gladiolus would touch someone’s heart with affection. With its floral significance, the flower also signifies love, passion at first glance, and devotion. Find more meanings of flowers here!!
- Each color has a distinct meaning: Red represents romance, love, and passion. Pink is a symbol of compassion and mother’s love; white is purity and innocence; yellow is a symbol of joy and friendship, and purple is a symbol of fortune and beauty.
- Besides being among the flowers celebrating August’s birth, The gladiolus is traditionally gifted to mark 40th-anniversary celebrations.
The Gladiolus in History
It was the first South African species brought to Europe around the middle of the 18th century. In the 19th century, affluent people in England began to explore the possibility of breeding flowers to make them more suitable for home gardens.
In the early days of Rome, the gladiolus flower was known as the bloom of gladiators, and spectators covered the winners of the match in vibrant colors.
It gained popularity across the U.S. around the turn of the 20th century, leading to the establishment of the American Gladiolus Society in Boston in 1910.
Gladiolus in the Garden
The gladiolus enjoys full sun and a rich, loamy, well-drained soil. However, it can adapt to all soil types. It also needs protection from winds that are strong and can be a threat to its tall flower stalks.
Corms (root portions) from the gladiolus tend to be tender and, in colder regions, must be sifted out every fall and replanted next spring. Bulbs should be planted following the last frost and when the soil is warmed. Every year, new corms grow over the older ones. The old corm is destroyed, and the bud grows in the new corm.
The flower looks stunning in a garden setting, in containers, or along borders; however, it’s most appreciated for its cut flowers. To make the most of your cut flowers, cut the spike between the second and fourth leaves where the first flower is visible and then place it in water.
Secondary Birth Flower: Poppy
A member of the Papaveraceae family, poppy plants grow worldwide except in regions with warm climates like Eurasia, Africa, and North America. The most well-known species of poppy include the Iceland poppy (Papaver nudicaule), Oriental poppy (Papaver orientale), and California poppy (Eschscholzia California).
Poppies can vary in size considerably. However, they generally are delicate and showy flowers that range from up to six petals. Numerous stamens surround them. The flowers are arranged on hairy, long stalks. The flower buds are initially bent downwards before they turn upwards when opened.
The word poppy is derived directly from the Latin “pappa,” meaning milk. The flowers and stalks of certain species of poppy produce an oily latex-like product when cut. The most notable is the sap from poppy called opium (Papaver somniferum), which has been harvested to be used in opiates for pharmaceutical use and illicit drugs.
In the garden of your home, the poppy is frequently cultivated for its seeds, which are used in baking and cooking.
Poppy Meanings and Symbolism
- Alongside being a long-lasting symbol of memories, the poppies’ characteristics are opiate and symbolize peace, sleep, and death. They also symbolize resurrection.
- In Greco-Roman mythology, the flowers symbolize offerings to the dead. The poppies are discovered on tombstones that represent eternal sleep.
- In Greek mythology, the flower was believed to have been associated with Demeter, the goddess of agriculture. The belief was that if the poppy were planted in your garden, a bounty of crops would result.
- In the past, in Greece, poppies were linked with Hypnos, God of Sleep and Sleep, Thanatos (death), and Morpheus (dreams).
- The belief is that flowers such as poppy can help you remember your loved ones who have passed away.
- Poppy flowers are the flower of the state of California.
The Poppy in History
Canadian poet John McCrae, who served as a physician in the military in World War I, penned the well-known poem “In Flanders Field” in 1915. It starts with the lines: In Flanders Field, the poppy blows Between the rows of crosses row upon row. It led to the connection between the poppies and the soldiers who died in the battle.
In European cemeteries, where soldiers were buried following World War I, disturbing the soil led to the growth of poppies from dormant seeds for many years.
- Frank Baum includes poppies in “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” creating an entire field of flowers that cause Dorothy Toto, Toto, Cowardly Lion, and Toto to sleep on their way toward Toto’s Emerald City.
On September 27, 1920, the poppies were officially adopted as the floral symbol for the American Legion. It commemorates the soldiers who lost their lives during the First World War. Every year, The American Legion Auxiliary distributes poppies on Memorial Day, requesting recipients to contribute to help veterans and active duty military personnel.
In the month of Remembrance Day (November 11), the citizens of Britain and other former Commonwealth countries wear crimson-colored paper poppies to remember those who lost their lives in the battle. The significance of the symbol is revered in many different nations around the globe.
Poppies in the Garden
There are both perennial and annual species of poppies. The majority of them prefer cooler temperatures in summer. Seeds can be sown directly into the garden or pot soil since poppies cannot be transplanted easily. Poppies can reseed themselves and be regarded as weeds in the garden if not monitored.
The flowers are a significant pollen source for bees. They are also fantastic cut flowers, even though they can only last for a few weeks indoors. Cut them off when the buds are just opening. After cutting the stem, the branch uses matches or lighters to stop the milky liquid from spilling into the water.
In conclusion, the birth flowers of August, the gladiolus and poppy, not only adorn gardens with their vibrant beauty but also carry profound symbolism. The gladiolus symbolizes love, strength, and remembrance, while the poppy evokes memories, peace, and the eternal cycle of life. Both flowers have rich histories, from the gladiolus adorning Roman gladiators to the poppy’s poignant connection to wartime sacrifice. Whether gracing gardens or used as cut flowers, these blooms remind us of the depth of emotion and significance that flowers can convey. August’s birth flowers are a testament to the enduring power of nature’s artistry.
Read July Birth Flowers