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Gladioli tidings with booming sales of bargain blooms


Britain’s gladioli growers are bracing themselves for record demand this summer as increasing numbers of shoppers look for bargain blooms during the cost of living crisis.  

Demand for the flower at Tesco is already up by more than 300 per cent on last year and with the UK season just starting this week that’s great news for the UK and Europe’s biggest grower Colin Martin from Lincolnshire who has grown 33 million of them.  

So far this year – including imported bouquets before the UK season started – Tesco has sold 60,000 bunches versus 14,000 during the same time period in 2022. 

The supermarket charges £1.99 for a bouquet of five stems making them the cheapest seasonal flower from July until earlier October when the gladioli season ends.

Gladioli are also making a comeback after falling out of favour during the 1980s when they were considered a throwback to the post-war years, both as a gifting and a garden flower. 

Tesco flower buyer Georgina Reid said:

“We are currently seeing shoppers looking for more affordable bouquets and gladioli ticks all the boxes as they are big, bold and colourful and, most importantly, are really great value. 

“We started seeing a slight uplift last summer but over the last few months demand has been really strong and is growing by the week.  

“’Glads’, as they are often called, have such a colourful presence that people are obviously seeing them in the homes of friends and family, finding out the great price and then buying them for themselves.” 

The flower is perhaps best known as being a favourite of the late comedian Barry Humphries whose character Dame Edna Everage adored the blooms so much that a variety was named after her. 

And rock singer Morrissey was famed for taking to the stage when he was in The Smiths with the flowers hanging from his back pocket before throwing them out to the crowd.

Colin Martin, who has been producing gladioli, as well as daffodils, peonies and sweet williams on his farm in Moulton Chapel, near Spalding for 20 years is also seeing a revival right now. 

By example he says that when he first started supplying Tesco two decades ago he produced four million a year for the supermarket. Now he grows nearly 20 million annually for them. 

He not only grows them but also works with Flamingo, one of the world’s largest growers and suppliers of fresh cut flowers, and Tesco to develop new varieties that are in demand for the UK market. 

Colin said:

“By all accounts this could well be a record year for ‘glads’ and this year I’m growing 33 million plants with 10 different coloured varieties.  

“The reason the price can be kept low is because they are fairly low maintenance as well as the scale of volume that we grow. 

“There are also relatively fewer miles and travel costs involved as they are grown in the UK, and here in Lincolnshire we have wonderful soil that retains water well.  

“So far the growing season hasn’t been too bad and right now we are getting just about the right amount of sunshine and rain so the quality overall is really good” 

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