Where to plant gladiolas?

Planting Guide – Gladiolus Bulbs

Gladiolus (from Latin, the diminutive of gladius, a sword) is a genus of perennial bulbous flowering plants in the iris family – Glads actually do not grow from bulbs but from “corm” – a closely related cousin. Sometimes called the sword lily, the most widely-used English common name for these plants is simply gladiolus (plural gladioli, gladioluses or sometimes gladiolas). The Gladiolus flower signifies remembrance. It also expresses infatuation, telling the receiver that he or she pierces the heart.

      Gladiolus in Your Garden

      Gladiolus plants are attractive, perennial herbs and semi hardy in temperate climates. All gladioli are easy to grow, colorful and make great cut flowers, hence their popularity. With very little work needed, your Gladiolus will burst into bloom in August, adorning your garden with bright, colorful, tall flowers that will make for a wonderful addition to any scheme.

      When & How to Plant Gladiolus Bulbs

      Plant your Gladiolus bulbs/corms in the spring, as soon as the soil has warmed up in March or April. Loosen the soil to about 12 to 15 inches deep and add in a 2-4 inch layer of compost.

      While they prefer full sun, Gladiolus will still grow well in partial shade. Gladiolus plants prefer rich, soft soil, and plenty of water. If the soil is poor, add a little fertilizer to help stimulate growth.

      Set your corms in their planting locations with the pointed end facing up. Cover with soil and press firmly. If planting tall varieties, set your stakes now, taking care not to pierce the corms. Water thoroughly.

      Growing Guide

      The Gladiolus bulbs (or corm) can be grown in rows or bunches. They will tolerate a little crowding, but will grow bigger if spaced out. We recommend planting the bulbs 6-8 inches deep – secured deep in the ground, you are less likely to need a stake. Plant them about 3-6 inches apart. If you have bought quite a few, don’t plant them all at once. Stagger their planting times and you will get a better succession of flowers.

      Add mulch to help retain water, and to keep the weeds down. Gladioli need plenty of water to flower well. On well-drained poorer soil, extra watering will be required. Rule of thumb is if the area receives less than 1 inch of rain a week, then water your plants regularly throughout the summer. Soil should remain moist throughout the growing period.


      Once planted, your gladiolus should grow well with little attention, provided the soil remains moist but not water logged. As they bloom, remove the faded and dying flowers to ensure continuous growth. Gladiolus is a great cut flower, so be sure to cut and enjoy inside too!

      Preparing for Next Season

      If you live in a temperate region, mulch the bulbs deeply with 2.5 inches of compost to give them an insulating duvet over their heads in late autumn.

      In colder regions, grow them in a sheltered spot and lift them for the winter when the leaves turn yellow-brown and before the first frost. Lift them and cut the stem with one inch above the corm. Dry them out in a warm and airy location for a couple of weeks, cleaning off excess soil. Remove (by snapping off) and discard the oldest bottom corms from the base of the new corms. Store the new corms in open paper bags, cloth bags, wooden trays, screens, or old onion sacks – any container that receives good air circulation. These must be kept dry and cold (but frost-free) until they are replanted, a cool basement is recommended. You can dig and divide the clumps every few years to select the best corms for replanting. Replant your stored corms the following spring for summer blooms!

Can I Grow Gladiolus In A Container: How To Care For Gladiolus Bulbs In Pots

Gladioli are beautiful plants, grown from corms or bulbs, and a favorite of many gardeners. They are perennials with striking flowers and tall long stems that grow 2 to 6 feet in height. Due to their height, many people often wonder if it’s possible to have a gladiolus container garden.

Can I Grow Gladiolus in a Container?

If you are one of those interested in planting gladiolus in a container and want to know if this is possible, the resounding answer would be yes. Placing gladiolus bulbs in pots is a good idea where garden space is limited. All you need is to provide suitable drainage and growing conditions.

Growing Gladiolus in Pots

If you desire to grow gladiolus bulbs in pots you will first need to choose a variety of glad types that you would like to plant. Growing smaller plants works best in a container because they are shorter and will have less chance to break as opposed the larger varieties. If you do choose a larger variety, it will need to be staked for support.

You will need a container that has drainage holes. If not, your glads will have wet feet and not grow as well. In fact, the corms will be more susceptible to rotting.

The pot should be at least 12 inches deep and 12 inches in diameter. The container needs to be deep enough for the bulb and enough good quality potting soil to cover the bulb. The bulbs need to have 2 inches of soil beneath them.

Add some gravel to the bottom of the container to ensure the drainage of water. Gladiolus cannot sit in waterlogged soil. Again, if this should happen, the bulb will rot.

Plant bulbs 3 to 6 inches deep and 2 to 3 inches apart with the flat side down. Many growers plant gladiolus at two-week intervals for continuous blooms. After you’ve planted your bulbs, water them generously. Soak the soil so that it settles around the bulb.

Caring for a Gladiolus Container Garden

Water the plants periodically. It is better to provide a good weekly soaking than to water them lightly two or three times a week. The roots and stems will appear shortly after their first watering.

Once your flowers have started blooming, you can leave them on the plant or cut them to make a striking flower arrangement. If you choose to leave the flower on the plant, cut off the dead head to guarantee continuous growth. When the flowers stop blooming, do not cut down the foliage. The leaves continue to produce food that is stored in the corm for the next year’s season of flowers.

After the blossoms have faded, water the bulbs regularly. The leaves will start to turn yellow and brown and eventually dry up. When this happens, empty the pot. Recover the bulbs and allow the soil that sticks to them to dry. Remove dead foliage, brush off dry soil, and store the bulbs in a cool, dry place. They will be ready for the next year.

How to Care for Gladiolus

Dena E. Bolton

Gladiolus is a beautiful and elegant-looking flower. With over 300 species of gladiolus, you can choose from a wide variety of colors, ranging from white to deep reds washed in black to even a gladiolus with a green bloom. Gladiolus is a favorite to use in cut-flower arrangements. Because many grow to be at least 36-48 inches tall and giants growing to even greater heights, it seems this flower would be difficult to grow. Fortunately, you can easily learn how to care for gladiolus and can soon have huge bursts of color in your garden.

Plant gladiolus corms in the spring. Stagger your planting by planting a few corms beginning in March and more every two weeks until May. This staggered planting will give you a nice succession of blooms.

Plant the corms 3 to 4 inches deep and 6 inches apart in rich, well-drained soil.

Stake taller varieties. You can use individual stakes or purchase a grid support that allows the flowers to grow up between the open grids. You can also plant your gladiolus behind medium-sized plants that will offer a natural support.

Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer during the growing season only if your gladiolus is not planted in fertile soil. If you have planted your gladiolus as recommended, there is no need for any additional fertilizer.

Water regularly during dry periods. Gladiolus tends to be rather drought-tolerant; however, even these flowers need extra water during extremely dry periods. During these times, water about once a week for 20 minutes.

Cut back the fans almost to the ground after the flowers are spent.

Lift the corms at the end of the season and before the first frost, in colder climates (Zone 5 and colder). Dry in a warm, airy place for 2-3 weeks. Clean and store in a dry place until ready to plant in the spring. The corms may be left to over winter in the ground in warmer climates (Zone 6 and warmer); however, you should be sure to apply a protective layer of mulch.

Divide when you lift your corms at the end of the season or every 3 or 4 years if you do not lift corms. Division is done by lifting the corms and removing the small cormlets attached to the parent plant. These cormlets will flower the second year.


Breck’s Plant Food to the trench. Cover with 2″ of soil. Firmly place bulbs on soil, pointed ends up, 6″ apart. In a flower border, plant a group of at least 10 bulbs for best effect. Cover with remaining soil. Water well and add 2″ of mulch to conserve moisture and keep the roots cool. Begin planting in mid-spring and continue to plant every two weeks until mid-July for flowers throughout the summer. Bulbs will bloom from 70-100 days from planting, depending on the lateness in the season. Tall-growing varieties may need staking. Water well throughout the growing season. Fertilize when the flower spikes first appear and after the flowers are picked.

Dig up the corms 4-6 weeks after the flowers fade. Remove as much soil as possible and cut off flower stalk 1″ above corm. Dry and store the bulbs indoors for the winter. Hardy in Zones 8-11.

Hardy Glads – In fall, plant in almost any type of well-drained garden soil in full sun. Plant the corms 4-6″ apart in clumps approximately 3″ deep. Fertilize when planting with any 5-10-5 fertilizer but avoid animal manure since it may encourage rot. Mulch over the winter for protection. Hardy in Zones 5-10.

Glamini Glads – Glaminis are highly pest resistant and bloom happily in full sun or partial shade. Their shorter overall height means you can use them in the middle or fronts of borders and beds. They also do exceptionally well in patio containers – or even window boxes where viewing their rich cascades of 3-4″ flowers up close is a special pleasure. Glaminis are also splendid in your vase. Care is no more difficult than for any gladiolus. Simply plant 3″ deep in sun or partial shade and space 3-4″ apart. Glaminis can be lifted approximately 8-10 weeks after flowering. Dry the bulbs and let them overwinter in a cool, dark, frost-free location.


Cut flowers

Gladdies make exquisite cut flowers and, with a rich palette of colours, they suit all sorts of arrangements. Cut the flower stems before the blooms have opened, when the first signs of colour appear on the bottom florets. Aim to leave about a third of the stem intact and use the foliage sparingly, as it provides nourishment for the flower next year. The tips of the flowers are attracted to sunlight, so laying them down flat for a few hours allows them to angle their tips towards light, causing bent and twisted flowers. Flower arrangers use this method to produce interesting floral displays.


Flower power

There are more than 50 varieties available in Australia, so there’s a gladiolus to suit all colour tastes. Hybridising has become a hot topic among horticulture enthusiasts, and new and glamorous varieties continue to pop up, many with bicoloured flowers. As a result, gladdies have morphed into a stylish addition to flower beds, then there’s their cutting potential – homegrown flowers make impressive vase subjects.

As garden blooms go, gladdies are high flyers. Depending on the variety, these majestic flowers can grow up to 1.5-2m tall, and are perfect for creating a colourful backdrop to lower bushier plants. There are also compact forms for smaller gardens, reaching about 1m high. All are easily grown in a sunny spot, and look great teamed with ornamental grasses or summer-blooming lavender.

Gladioli grow from a corm, a form of bulb but flatter in shape. If they are happy in their position they can multiply and spread, so you can get a nice clump developing that will produce blooms year after year with very little effort. What’s not to love?


How to plant

Plant the corms about 10-15cm deep with the growing point facing upwards. The plants are best spaced about 8-15cm apart. Because of their slender profile, gladioli have the most visual impact when planted in generous numbers, so set them out in clumps of at least six and up to 12 plants. To prevent the possibility of stem damage from wind, it’s a good idea to tie plants to stakes as they grow – one stake can support three or four plants in a clump. After planting the corms, always water in well.


How do I grow them?

Position: Sunny positions are essential for strong stems and prolific flowering. Because the flower stems are so tall, they are best planted in a spot that is protected from strong winds.

Soil: While they are not particularly fussy about the soil they grow in, they don’t like having wet feet for long. Avoid damp spots, and plant into free-draining soils, to which organic matter has been added – well-rotted manure or compost is ideal.

Fertiliser: Little fertiliser is needed, as the flowers draw their nutrition from the corm. However, adding a complete fertiliser about a month before flowering will help produce strong and vibrant blooms. While plants are in flower, you can also feed them fortnightly with a soluble fertiliser formulated for flowering plants, such as Yates Thrive Flower & Fruit.

Water: Blooming in summer as they do, gladdies will need watering at least once a week, but be prepared to give them a little extra during a heatwave. A nice deep watering is more effective than a light splash with the hose every night. After the flowers die back, you can allow the plants to dry out a little more.

Care: Traditionally, gardeners are advised to dig up the corms at the end of the season for storage, but in mild climates you’ll find you can enjoy years of flowers without any special attention.nIf you live in a frost-prone region, however, you may get better results by digging up the corms after the leaves have yellowed and died back. Wash, dry and store them in a dry place for replanting the following year.

Pests: When the plants are in bloom, thrips can prove a major pest. They will sometimes eat their way into the developing buds and prevent the flower from opening. Keep an eye out for these tiny insects (small brown or black specks about 1mm long) and spray with an insecticide such as Confidor or MaxGuard.


Planting pointers

When to plant: Being summer-flowering bulbs, gladioli are planted a little later than their spring-flowering counterparts, which traditionally go into the ground during autumn. Flowering takes about 90 to 100 days from planting, so if you want to extend the colour spectacle you can plant the corms in batches, resulting in extended flower displays from summer into autumn. Gardeners living in temperate frost-free areas can start planting the corms from June to mid-September. In colder frosty areas, it’s safer to wait until late August to plant. In tropical zones, corms can be planted year round, ensuring you can have a gorgeous flower show, no matter the season. You’ll be glad to have gladdies in your garden!


As the buds open seductively from bottom to top, each flower stem is like a whole bunch of blooms.

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