Care Of Gladiolus – How To Grow Gladiolus In Your Garden
Gladiolus plants grow wonderfully in the warm weather of summer. You can produce these flowers in sequence by planting some corms every few weeks or so. Learning how to take care of gladiolus will reward you with a huge array of colors and they also work out great for cut flowers. Let’s look at how to grow gladiolus.
Gladiolus corms look like oversized crocus corms. They have a brown fiber wrapper with a small flat bottom. Sometimes they already have pointy shoots showing at the top.
Follow these growing tips to help with care of gladiolus:
- Gladiolus prefer well-drained and even sandy soil. They also like sunny locations.
- You will want to plant the gladiolus deeper than usual because they have a tall sheaf of leaves. This will help anchor them against strong winds that might blow them over to the ground.
Gladiolus – How to Plant
With gladiolus, how to plant is just a few simple steps:
- First dig a trench about 8 inches deep. Make it long enough that you can space your corms about half a foot apart. That spacing might seem a bit strange to you, so placing them in a semi-circle or oval will help. Make sure the space is large enough to handle about 10 corms for a nice display.
- You will want to fertilize the corms with 5-10-10 or 5-10-5 fertilizer. Put the recommended amount in the bottom of the planting area, but be sure to mix the soil and fertilizer well so you don’t burn the corm. Add a layer of unfertilized soil before placing the corm into the trench.
- You should start your planting of your gladiolus in mid-spring. From that point, make some new plantings every two weeks. They take 70-100 days to grow and flower so planting every couple of weeks gives you flowers right on through summer. If these flowers will be exposed to wind, you will definitely want to stake them.
- Stop planting your gladiolus in summer, around mid-July.
- Keep your gladiolus watered well during their growing period and make sure to mulch the soil around them to keep it moist.
Gladiolus are only completely hardy in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 to 11. In zones 6 to 7, they thrive if the bulbs are protected by a thick mulch throughout the winter.
Proper care of gladiolus requires the use of fertilizer. As they come up, you can fertilize the new gladioli batches when you see the flower spikes start to show. After you pick the flowers, you can fertilize again. When you fertilize, just add the granules next to the flower, and then scratch the soil with a cultivator to mix it a little.
How to Care for Gladiolus in the Winter
Rather than leaving the corms in the ground to winter, you can dig the corms up for storage four to six weeks after you pick the flowers.
- Dig the corm up and shake as much soil as you can off the corm. Trim back the leaves to within an inch of the corm itself.
- Let the corm dry up for about a week. After that, you can brush off remaining soil.
- Store your gladiolus in a dry, dark, cool place in a mesh bag or old pantyhose to prevent moisture from aiding mildew to grow. Also protect them when you store them because mice love gladiola bulbs.
Gladiolus plants are a lovely addition to any garden. Knowing how to grow gladiolus and proper care of gladiolus will ensure that these delightful flowers will grow well in your garden.
How to Plant and Grow Gladioli
Gladioli are members of the Iris family and have long, sword-like leaves that are surely how they got their name, gladiolus, from the Latin gladius, meaning sword. Sometimes called sword lilies or sword flowers, these perennial flowering plants have enjoyed centuries of popularity in folk medicine, flowerbeds and bouquets.
Symbolizing remembrance, strength, honor and integrity, gladiolus is the birth flower for the month of August and the flower associated with 40th wedding anniversaries. But even for those born at other times of the year, these beautiful blooms are a welcome addition to cutting gardens and butterfly gardens and are often used to add color and height in landscaping design.
Gladioli grow to heights of between about two and five feet and come in single and bi-colored blooms in a wide variety of colors, including white, cream, yellow, green, orange, apricot, pink, red, and purple.
Planting Gladiolus Bulbs
Gladiolus is often planted in the back of flowerbeds and borders as a tall, colorful addition among other flowers and plants or against fences and structures to provide support for taller varieties. They prefer full sun and well-draining soil and do not compete well with weeds. They can be grown in the ground, raised garden beds or containers.
Choose a spot in your garden that gets at least six hours of sun each day. If you have the heavy, clay soil that is found throughout much of Southern California, you may want to plant your gladioli in containers or raised beds.
The bulbs will rot in heavy, wet soil, so it is imperative that the soil is well draining. To make your clay soil more habitable for glads, work compost into the top 10 to 12 inches to improve the soil structure and enhance drainage.
Once you have prepared the soil, plant smaller corms (bulbs) about three to four inches deep and larger corms about five to six inches deep. Whether you are planting in rows or interspersing your gladioli with other flowering plants, be sure to give each corm about eight inches of space on all sides.
How to Care for Gladiolus
Gladioli are easy-to-grow bulbs that require little care once established. In zones 8 and above, you can overwinter your corms in the ground, making these a low-maintenance perennial that will continue to provide your garden with beautiful blooms year after year. In zones 7 and below, you will need to dig up the corms each year before winter and replant them near the last frost in spring.
Glads are most often planted in spring and once you have the bulbs in the ground, there is little more to do. You will need to keep the soil moist but not soggy as the roots and first shoots develop. You can then move to one inch of water per week but will likely need to double that when it is particularly hot and dry. Adding a thick layer of mulch around the plants will help the soil retain moisture while also providing some support for the base of the plant.
You will need to keep your flowerbeds completely free of weeds, since gladioli do not compete well. If you choose to fertilize throughout the growing season, you will want to add your first dose of water-soluble fertilizer once your glads are about 10 inches tall, and then again when you first begin to see color on your flower spikes.
Some of the shorter varieties of gladiolus will do fine without staking, but most varieties require staking to support the long, narrow flower spikes. Inexpensive, circular supports are usually all you need for this.
Flower spikes and leaves can be cut for floral arrangements, but be sure to leave enough of the leaves to allow the plant to continue to thrive.
If left on the plant to add color to your garden, deadhead blooms as they fade, but do not remove the foliage until the end of the blooming season when the foliage yellows. You can then remove the foliage and add a layer of mulch to overwinter the corms in the ground.
If you live in zone 7 or below, dig up the bulbs, brush off debris, cut the stock to about ½-inch to one inch from the top of the corm, dry the corms in the sun for a few days, and then place them in a bucket with peat moss to store in a cool, dry spot until spring.
Gladiolus grown from healthy corms usually have few issues with pests or diseases. The most common issue with gladioli are thrips, which are insects that eat the foliage. If you begin to see potential insect damage, spray each plant with a neem oil-based insecticide to eradicate the infestation.