Pictures of gladiolus gardens

Companion Planting With Gladiolus: Plants That Grow Well With Gladiolus

Gladiolus is a wildly popular flowering plant that often makes its way into floral arrangements. As well as bouquets, gladiolus looks amazing in flower beds and along garden borders. But what are some good companion plants for gladiolus? Keep reading to learn more about plants that grow well with gladiolus.

Companion Plants for Gladiolus

Perhaps the best companion plants for gladiolus are, believe it or not, more gladiolus plants. Gladiolus is not a cut and come again flower. Instead, it grows its flowers from the bottom up along long leafy spears. When it’s used for flower arrangements, these spears are usually cut off whole.

In order to have a full summer’s worth of blossoms, it’s best to plant your gladiolus bulbs (also known as corms) in succession. Starting a few weeks before your area’s average last frost, plant a new bunch of gladiolus bulbs every two weeks. Keep this up until midsummer. This way, you’ll have new plants growing and new flowers blooming all the way through the summer and into the fall.

What to Plant with Gladiolus

Unfortunately, gladiolus plants don’t have any particular benefits for their neighbors the way that some flowering plants do. They can, however, be planted with other bright flowering plants to make for a truly spectacular splash of color in the garden.

Some good flowering companion plants for gladiolus include zinnias and dahlias. Gladiolus plants like sun and well drained, sandy soil, and plants that grow well with gladiolus need the same kind of soil conditions. Really, basically any plants sharing the same requirements will work.

Gladiolus plants also make a great and colorful border around vegetable gardens. As long as your garden (or at least the area around it) has sandy, well-draining soil and receives full sun exposure, your plants should be happy.

Gladiolus

Gladiolus

The retro look of gladiolus flowers is popular once again. These easy-to-grow bulbs bring a lot to the garden party, including a huge color palette, vertical interest, and bloom times that harmonize well with summer’s most colorful perennials. Plus, they’re a versatile cut flower, and the ruffled single florets can even be plucked off the stem and arranged in vases and bowls. The perfumed Abyssinian gladiolus is a rare plant that everyone can enjoy.

genus name
  • Gladiolus
light
  • Sun
plant type
  • Bulb
height
  • 3 to 8 feet
width
  • 1 foot wide
flower color
  • Blue,
  • Purple,
  • Green,
  • Red,
  • Orange,
  • White,
  • Pink,
  • Yellow
foliage color
  • Blue/Green
season features
  • Summer Bloom
special features
  • Attracts Birds,
  • Cut Flowers
zones
  • 8,
  • 9,
  • 10,
  • 11
propagation
  • Division

All-Star Cutting Flower

In the garden or in a vase, gladiolus add garden-fresh drama. An old-fashioned flower originally from South Africa, the lofty flower spikes of gladiolus emerge from disc-shape corms that are planted in spring. When done right, fresh-cut flower spikes will last for more than a week in a vase. Search your favorite online bulb retailer for glads—you’ll find varieties with blossoms in nearly every color of the rainbow.

Garden Design Tips

Call on gladiolus when you need a dramatic focal point in the garden or bold vertical structure. The sword-shape foliage and upright flower stalks draw attention. Pair gladiolus with dahlias, peonies, and other sturdy perennials that can provide support for these tall, petal-packed flower spikes.

If you are growing gladiolus primarily for cut flowers, plant the corms in rows as you would vegetables. Row planting makes for easy soil preparation, planting, staking, and harvesting in mid-summer. Add a row of gladiolus to your vegetable garden, planting the corms at the same time you plant tomatoes. Continue planting gladiolus every couple of weeks for a continuous cut-flower harvest.

Planting Must-Knows

Gladiolus thrive in full sun and well-drained soil. They will bloom in shade, but the flowers will be smaller and the flower stalks will be floppy. Quick-draining soil is also essential for this plant to thrive. If your soil is filled with clay, is too wet, or is boggy, you should plant gladiolus in raised beds instead. These flowers are tender bulbs, which means they are not winter hardy in garden Zones 7 and lower. Glads must be planted every spring in these areas, as they will overwinter in the garden only in Zones 8–10. You can begin planting gladiolus corms in spring when the soil has started to warm—usually in April or May.

Need help getting started? Be sure to plant the pointed side of the corms up, about four times as deep as their width. Space the glad corms 6 to 8 inches apart. If you are planting gladiolus in a garden bed, plant in drifts of at least 7 bulbs for a pleasing display. Spread a 2-inch-layer of mulch on the soil surface and water the newly planted corms well. Leaf stalks will emerge in a couple of weeks.

Harvest Glads For Weeks

Harvest bouquets of glads for 6 weeks or more in summer by staggering the planting of corms. Plant a group every two weeks in spring. Stop planting in mid-June to give the plants plenty of time to mature before a damaging freeze in fall. When planting long rows of corms to use as cut flowers, plan to stake each stem along one side of the row, tying the stems to the panel as they grow.

To ensure that your harvest will last, only cut the flower spikes after one or two blossoms are open. The remainder of buds will follow in the first bloom’s footsteps. Immediately plunge the stems in lukewarm water. As lower flowers fade, pull them off and cut about an inch of the stem off the bottom of each spike every few days.

Storing Glad Corms

In Zones 7 and below, glad corms can be dug out in the fall and stored for planting back in the garden in springtime. Once a harsh frost kills gladiolus foliage, dig up the corms. Shake off excess soil and place the corms in a warm, dry, airy place for about 3 weeks. Make sure to get rid of any shriveled, old, spent corms, placing the healthy bulbs in a paper sack to store in a cool and dry place until spring. Many gardeners choose not to dig and store glads, but instead purchase new corms each year. The choice is yours!

More Varieties of Gladiolus

Abyssinian gladiola

Image zoom

Gladiolus callianthus var. murielae is unique because it sports extremely fragrant, butterfly-shape flowers on arching stems in late summer. The white petals have deep purple centers. It grows 4 feet tall. Zones 7-11

Bulb Planting Basics

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If you’re looking for a versatile cut flower that can be easily grown at home, gladiolus is just the ticket. Gladiolus gets its name from the Latin word “gladius,” meaning sword. Indeed, “glads,” as they are named for short, do produce their large showy blossoms along a long pointed stalk. It’s hard to beat the wide choice of colors that glads offer, including red, pink, yellow, white, purple and lavender.

Each flower spike is made up of several florets, which are lined up in double rows. Taller cultivars will likely need staking to prevent the weight of the flowers from bending or breaking the stems. Plants usually stay in bloom up to two weeks, but, if you stagger your plantings through late spring and early summer, you can have glads in bloom from June through September.

Glad buds will open beginning at the bottom of the spike first. Cut the flower spikes after at least three of the florets have opened. The rest of the florets will open in the next few days as the lower florets fade. The best time to cut glads is in the early morning or late evening, when temperatures are coolest and flower stems are full of water. Leave as much foliage as possible remaining on the plant, so that the corm will receive food reserves for next year.

Gladiolus are grown from bulb-like structures called corms that must be dug up and replanted each year, since they are not usually winter hardy in the Midwest. When foliage begins to turn yellow in fall, dig up the corms and allow to air dry for several days. Then, pack the corms in a box of dry vermiculite or peat moss and store in a cool, dry location.

Many garden supply stores run clearance sales on summer flowering bulbs at this time. You can get some real bargain prices, but keep in mind that it is pretty late in the year for planting. Depending on the cultivar, glads take from 60 to 120 days from planting to produce flowers. But, if the price is right, it may be worth the gamble of hoping for a late frost this autumn.

Gladioli (Gladiolus)

Growing gladioli is a brilliant way of bringing a glorious array of colours to the summer garden. And, of course, you can cut the flower spikes for indoor flower arrangements.

How to grow gladioli

Cultivation

Gladioli need a sunny position and good, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter.

Dig over the planting area to a depth of 20-25cm (8-10in) and improve the soil with well-rotted compost, soil conditioner or planting compost to help hold plenty of moisture to ensure good quality blooms.

Gladioli varieties

Gladioli are available in a range of types – from dainty miniatures, graceful primulinus hybrids all the way up to giant varieties with flowers up to 15cm (6in) in diameter, growing 1.8m (6ft) tall.

The vast majority of gladioli aren’t totally hardy, but Gladiolus byzantinus and Gladiolus communis can cope with milder winters, down to -10°C (14°F), and can be left in the garden from year to year, especially if protected with a soil mulch covering.

Planting gladioli

Plant the corms every couple of weeks from March to May for a succession of flowers right through the summer and into autumn. They don’t appreciate being planted too early in spring when the soil is too cold – when deciduous trees come into leaf is a good indicator to start planting.

In heavy soils, it pays to plant the corms on a 5cm (2in) thick layer of sharp sand or gravel to improve drainage.

Before planting, apply a general granular plant food to the soil.

Suggested planting locations and garden types

City and courtyard gardens, cottage and informal gardens, patios, containers.

How to care for gladioli

When the plants have produced 5 or 6 leaves, the taller varieties will need some support. Bamboo canes with string or similar ties are the easiest method, but don’t tie too tightly as this will strangle the developing flowerhead. Always ensure the stakes are inserted away from the base of the plant to avoid damaging the corm.

Plants will need watering during any periods of prolonged dry weather to prevent the soil drying out. A good soaking once a week – to give about 2.5cm (1in) of water – is the best way to water. In containers, they will need more regular – maybe even daily – watering.

Fortnightly feeding with a liquid plant feed will help promote strong growth. As the flower spikes develop, switch to a high potash feed

Lifting and storing over winter

As most varieties are not completely hardy, the corms are lifted and stored frost free for winter. In mild parts of the country you can risk leaving them in the ground – with a thick mulch over the soil – but it can be a risk. The corms are dug up after the first frost and left to dry for a few weeks. Then the new corms should be detached from the withered, older mother corms and stored in boxes or mesh bags.

Flowering season(s)

Summer, Autumn

Foliage season(s)

Spring, Summer, Autumn

Sunlight

Full sun

Soil type

Chalky, Clay, Loamy, Sandy

Soil pH

Neutral

Soil moisture

Moist but well-drained

Ultimate height

From 15cm (6in) to 1.8m (6ft)

Ultimate spread

10-15cm (4-6in)

Time to ultimate height

5 months

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