Gladiolus cruentus is an erect bulbous perennial that can reach heights up to 0.9m but the plant hangs in profusion. The leaves are dark green, soft with thickened margins and are about 250-600x6-25mm large. It bears erect inflorescence with a stout, straight stem with bracts of about 45mm long and bright, deep red flowers about 60mm in diameter large, they are downward facing and appear in summer between January and March. The flowers are edible and can be added to salads. They attract pollinating insects and birds to the garden.
Gladiolus cruentus is an ideal specimen for a mixed border and makes for a lovely feature in a rockery or less formal grassland type garden, especially when planted in groups together.