A new generation of gardeners are appreciating and valuing them for their colorful flower spikes, which are especially useful for cutting and bringing indoors, and for creating the trendy ‘tropical look’ to beds and borders.
This summer I will again be growing gladiolus for cut flowers. My mom has always called them ‘glads.’
You might have seen the bulbs for sale in bunches in the summertime at the supermarket or at a farmer’s market. They have an almost exotic feel in a tall vase, and you will feel very pampered when you adorn your family table with them.
Gladiolus (Glads) Are Easy To Grow!
For the gardener with little time to spend in the yard, gladiolus are a colorful, easy care plant, perfect for borders and large containers. Selecting a variety of glads and staggering their planting dates will produce a succession of height and bloom from spring through fall.
Graceful, luxuriant and colorful, these long-stemmed beauties last as many as 10 days in a vase.
Most garden soils that will produce a good crop of vegetables or weeds will also grow good glads with little or no added fertilizer.
Glads prefer good air circulation and full sunlight but will do reasonably well with a little high shade in early morning or late afternoon. Choose an area with good drainage. Glads don’t like wet feet!Raised beds are an ideal solution. Water regularly while they are growing or blooming, perhaps once a week. Water twice a week during heat waves. Weed by shallow cultivation and hand weeding. A three inch layer of mulch of bark, straw, leaves, grass clippings, etc., between rows will discourage weeds and help conserve moisture.
To get the most enjoyment of glads as a cut flower indoors, cut off the flowering stalk when the lowest buds begin to open. Be sure to keep at least four leaves on the plant to allow the corm to renew itself for the following year. At the end of the season, cut off the stem just below the lowest flower buds. This keeps the energy from the leaves flowing towards the corm, not to seed production.
Directions To Plant
Obtain bulbs (also known as corms) in the color(s) you want to grow. Bulbs often come packaged like this in single colors or in multi-colored sets:
Simply plant gladiolus bulbs in rows 8-10″ apart and 5-6″ deep with the root buds faced down or follow package instructions. You could plant a new row every two weeks and have a steady supply of fresh cut flowers to give to friends or put in a vase.
A healthy, fresh bulb should not be dried out. It should be firm and fleshy like a good clove of garlic or an onion with a tough skin.
Often, but not always, you can see the little root buds swollen and just waiting for contact with soil and moisture to grow.
The gladiolus is sometimes called the ‘sword lily’. At the appointed time, ‘little swords’ slices through the soil and announces their presence.
Glads are in the iris family and come in zillions of colors and hues.
Can You Dig It? Yes, But You Don’t Have To Every Year
The bulbs can be dug and saved in a warm location from one year to the next. They aren’t supposed to overwinter, I’ve heard, but surprisingly, in our zone 5B garden we have had glads act more like perennials for the last 5 years.
The yellows and oranges and peaches aren’t as hardy, apparently, and have died off. Thankfully, we’re left with beautiful crimson, purple, and fuchsia glads each year.
If you live where the ground doesn’t freeze in the winter, you may choose not to dig up your corms. However, disease brought on by too much rain and too cool of a soil, as well as eventual crowding, may reduce the amount and quality of next year’s bloom.
It is suggested that you dig and divide your corms every couple of years in the fall, being sure to discard any damaged or diseased corms. The plant should be separated from the corm as close to the corm as possible, either by hand breaking or cutting with pruning shears. Store any lifted corms in a cool, dry place, in single layers in a flat or ventilated tray. Then, replant those corms the following February or March.
Pin It! Pin It!
Thanks for reading!