A new generation of gardeners are appreciating gladiolus and valuing them for their tall, colorful flower spikes. They 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 grandmother 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.
Directions To Plant Gladiolus (Glads)
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:
For a cutting garden, simply plant gladiolus bulbs in rows 8-10″ apart and 5-6″ deep with the root buds faced down or follow package instructions.
For an informal setting in a flowerbed, don’t plant in rows but in groups of 5 or 7.
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?
The bulbs can be dug and saved in a warm location from one year to the next. I’ve heard and read they aren’t supposed to overwinter, but surprisingly, in our zone 5B garden we have had glads act more like perennials for the last 5 years.
We’ve been blessed with beautiful spreading pink, purple, yellow, white and fuchsia glads each year.
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.
- Water twice a week during heat waves.
- To get the most enjoyment of glads as a cut flower indoors, cut the flowering stalk when the lowest buds begin to open.
- When you take off flower stalks for the vase, be sure to keep at least four of the long strappy 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.
For blooms that last all season
- To ensure that you have gladiolus blooming all summer, plant a few corms every two weeks, starting at about the time of the last spring frost. The plants will bloom about two months later.
- If you plan to use your glads primarily as cut flowers, choose colours that will work well with your home’s interior decor.
- Stop planting 10 weeks before your first fall frost is expected.