Gladiolus are one of those flowers that have been around for
ever years. They are often seen as part of flower arrangements, and make quite glamorous displays by themselves in tall trumpet-shaped vases.
Gladiolus come in just about every color except a true blue or jet black, so there are colors that fit everyone’s taste, or interior decorating scheme.
Gladiolus corms for Spring planting are available at garden centers, big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s, discount stores like Wal-Mart and K-Mart, supermarkets and through mail order catalogs. Gladiolus as cut flowers can be found for purchase year-round at florist stores and supermarkets, as well as farm stands seasonally (mid to late summer). They often come in bunches of 12 stems.
Gladiolus are easy to grow in my home garden and don’t take up much planting space.
Planting Gladiolus ..In upstate New York where I live (USA zone 5-4) I plant gladiolus corms on or right after May 1 in my vegetable garden. Do to the fact that I like to bring them into the house when they are just starting to bloom, I don’t plant mine as a focal point in the flower garden, but in a more utilitarian way. I have an area along the back side of the vegetable patch, where I grow cucumbers, that I yearly plant gladiolus.
Each year to boost the organic quality of my vegetable garden’s soil, I work a few bags of dehydrated cow manure into the ground to amend (improve) it, and broadcast a couple of hands full of Jonathan Green 5-10-5 across the planting area, which is also turned in.
Across the back side of the vegetable patch, I plant three or four long rows of gladiolus. The glads are perfect as a companion plant to the cucumbers, because they grow tall and tower above the cucumbers that grow in front of them at their feet. Both plants happily collect sun light (photosynthesis) and produce well.
When planting gladiolus, pick out a location that gets full sun (six plus hours of direct sunlight daily) and has well-drained soil. Put them in the ground so they are pointed side up with one or two inches of soil covering the corm. Space them 8 inches apart, with 8 inches between rows. Alternate the spacing between rows so the gladiolus planted in the middle row are planted in-between the gladiolus planted in the first and third rows (see illustration). Before planting, lay the glad corms out on the ground in your garden as you think you want them to be spaced. Adjust your arrangement before digging any planting holes if needed.
I have complete access to all 4 sides of my vegetable patch, so from the back side I can easily reach in and cut gladiolus for flower arrangements. If you cut glads to bring inside, cut them long-stemmed, but don’t cut the plant off at ground level. The plant needs its leaves to collect light for the remainder of the growing season, which feeds the corm.
I plant all my corms at once, but you could space out your gladiolus corm plantings by a week or two, so you have an extended period of bloom time.
If you are growing your glads and plan to leave them outside to enjoy in the garden, versus bring inside, you will have to stake them to keep the plants heavy flower from knocking the plant to the ground. Right before you see any buds unfurl, insert a bamboo stick (available at garden centers everywhere) into the ground, about an inch and one half to two inches away from the glad’s stem. You don’t want to pierce the corm. Loosely tie a small piece of jute around the head and to the stake to secure.
Winter Storage of Gladiolus Corms ..Gladiolus corms should be dug up and stored for Winter in areas where the temperatures go below 32 degrees fahrenheit, and the ground freezes solid. Never dig up gladiolus corms until / before they have been hit by a hard killing frost which darkens the plants sword shaped leaves and stops light collecting (photosynthesis). The growing season for glads and most other tender plants ends when temperatures go below 28 degrees fahrenheit. After they have been killed by a frost, let the glads stay in the ground for 3 or 4 days to a week before lifting. When dug, break the dead tops away from the fleshy corm and wash off excess dirt with a hose. Let the corms dry outside on the lawn for one day, then store inside in a dark room or cellar that stays 40 to 50 degrees farenheit. I store my gladiolus corms in two large shallow bowls that I use as bird baths and tops of cardboard boxes, stacking the corms no more than two layers high. I keep them uncovered so there is no moisture buildup, which could cause mold and possible rot. Gladiolus corms could also be stored in old onion bags or bags that clementines come in, then hung up from a rafter so there is air movement around the corms.
After one growing season, a gladiolus corms might divide and grow another full-sized second corm along side of it, or you might see many babies at its base. I usually divide the two large corms and save some babies for replanting, so each year my collection of plantable gladiolus corms increases.
Winters must be getting warmer here because each year at gladiolus planting time, I see one or two that I’ve missed that are emerging out of the ground to start the growing season again. I hope this post showed you how easy planting some gladiolus is. So, my words for you are Go out, buy some glad corms, and plant them ;-}
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