Gladiolus Tattoos: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Gladiolus Tattoos: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Choosing a tattoo can be a hard decision, and many people think long and hard about what to get and where to put it. Floral tattoos are popular because they have significant meaning and look beautiful. If you are thinking about getting a floral tattoo and need to pick the right flower, consider the gladiolus!

Gladioli are vibrant and stunning flowers with multiple blooms on long slender stems. They come in many colors, and no two flowers look alike. They are also rich in history and symbolism. Keep reading to learn about this gorgeous flower and why it would make a great tattoo for both men and women.


What is the history of gladiolus tattoos?

The gladiolus is part of the Iris family and are native to Africa, Europe, and Asia. There are hundreds of species, and they come in an array of vibrant colors. They have a special place in history regarding their symbolism. Often referred to as the sword lily, the name is derived from the blade-like shape of their leaves which narrow toward the tip like a sword.

Gladioli are very hardy plants and can average between two and four feet tall. They take root anywhere that offers sunshine and permeable soil. They also propagate easily, which leads to their association with strength and stability.

In Latin, the word gladiator means “swordsman” and gladius means “sword.” The Ancient Greeks also referred to them as “xiphium” from the Greek word “xiphos,” meaning sword.

Roman Gladiators had a custom of wearing gladiolus around their necks or on their armor during battle as a symbol of strength, integrity, and protection.

Gladioli are believed to have medicinal properties, and the seed pods are thought to have antimicrobial effects..


What do Gladiolus symbolize?

Gladiolus have several symbolic meanings stemming from their appearance and their history. Some symbolic associations are listed below.

  • Strength
  • Character
  • Honor
  • Integrity
  • Self-confidence
  • Remembrance
  • Death
  • Faithfulness
  • Elegance
  • Grace
  • Family
  • Sadness
  • Health and healing
  • Love – both romantic and platonic
  • Infatuation
  • August
  • 40th Anniversaries

What do Gladiolus tattoos mean?

Gladiolus tattoos can have many meanings depending on what the person getting the tattoo wants to convey. The color of the gladiolus can further emphasize a particular meaning.

Strength, integrity, and protection – Because of their association with swords and gladiators, the gladiolus is often chosen for tattoos to represent overcoming a struggle or personal battle in someone’s life. They can be a symbol of protection for the body or soul. They are also used to portray a sense of honor and integrity.

Elegance and grace – Gladiolus may represent strength because the shape of their leaves is similar to the appearance of swords, but the flowers themselves are delicate and complex. What could be more elegant and graceful then a stunning flower buds arising from a group of sharp, pointy leaves? The flowers maintain their grace and stability even amongst the sharp edges of their leaves.

Health and healing – Because of their history of medicinal use, the gladiolus can stand for health and healing. If someone has overcome an illness or tragedy in their lives, the gladiolus can represent their survival against all odds.

Sadness, remembrance, and death – Some cultures have used the gladiolus as a traditional funeral flower. Anyone wishing to memorialize or remember someone who has passed may choose a gladiolus to honor them.

Love, passion, infatuation – Consider how cupid pierces the heart with an arrow to cause people to fall in love. The association of the gladiolus with swords may be the reason they can represent love and infatuation. It’s almost like love pierces the heart. They are also used to convey platonic love, like that of a family member or child.

August – The gladiolus is associated with August and could be chosen as a tattoo for someone born this month. They could also represent the birth of a child or loved one born in August.

40th Anniversary – The gladiolus flower is associated with the 40th anniversary and would be a wonderful choice to celebrate the occasion.


Where do Gladiolus tattoos usually go?

Frequent choices for the placement of gladiolus tattoos are the shoulder or forearm. They also look nice on a calf or thigh. Ribcages and back tattoos work well too. The gladiolus is a tall, slender plant and would look great tattooed along the spine. And let’s not forget the chest or breastbone, especially for those wishing to represent love. Smaller designs look very nice on a wrist or ankle.


Characteristics and Styles of Gladiolus tattoos?

There are several ways to design a unique gladiolus tattoo. You could use a wide array of vibrant colors, choose a black and grey design, or even a simple outline.

Color Choices

Gladioli come in a wide array of vibrant color choices. Choosing a specific color for your gladiolus adds extra meaning to your tattoo. Some color associations for gladioli are listed below.

  • Yellow – Friendship and positivity
  • Pink – Motherly love
  • Red – Romance and strength
  • White – Remembrance or spirituality
  • Purple – Grace and royalty

Black and grey shaded

Many people who get tattoos choose black and grey designs over color because of the tendency of the colors to fade. A black and grey design is a popular choice for gladioli, and they hold their meaning and symbolism without the use of color. The characteristics of the flower heads lend themselves to this kind of shading.

Black outline

For those looking for a simple design, choosing a black outline for their gladiolus tattoo can look spectacular. A smaller, delicate tattoo can look great with this type of design.


Some people choose to get a single flower tattooed on them, while others may decide to get several blossoms on a single stem. To go even further, you can choose to get a bouquet of gladioli or even incorporate other flowers. You could even use a different color for each flower.

Another popular choice is to include text or a quote with a tattoo. You could place the words between or underneath the flowers, or even on a ribbon wrapping around the flowers.

A portrait design incorporating gladioli is a great choice for someone who wishes to memorialize or remember someone. You could also include other elements in the design, like birds or butterflies.



Tattoos are permanent and choosing one should be done carefully and for the right reasons. Gladioli are an excellent choice for those wishing to get a tattoo that has a unique and personalized meaning. If you’re thinking of getting a gladiolus for your next tattoo, use this guide to help you choose the perfect design, placement, and symbolism to create a tattoo that will bring you joy forever.


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