Growing Gladiola Corms
Growing Gladiola Corms
Designed by Brenda Hyde
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Gladiolas are beautiful and easy to grow with just a few tips on planting. I planted my first glads too shallow, and they grew crooked. Pretty, but rather odd looking to say the least! Gladiolas are a South African flower, and there are hundreds of varieties. Most are only hardy in Zones 7 to 10, and they have to lifted and stored in colder areas.
However, you'll always hear of gardeners that take their chances and if they are planted against the house and mulched they come back. There are also the winter hardy varieties that are more slender and the blooms are on individual stems rather than like the standard gladiola. They are nice planted in groupings. They are hardy and can take a winter in Zone 4 with some protection of mulch. There is a wide variety of choices in glads-from the delicate pastels to the vibrant reds.
Gladiolas need full sun and a loose soil. If you have a heavy soil add peat moss or a good compost to break up the soil and loosen it. Plant the corms in early spring (I just planted mine) about 5-6 inches apart and 4-6 inches deep depending on the size of the bulbs. Glads need fertilizer and they need to be kept well watered during the growing season.
So, plant them with other plants that need this same type of care. It makes it much easier to maintain. You don't want them waterlogged because they could rot. Water deeply when you do water, rather than a daily sprinkling, and don't let the soil dry out completely, but don't overwater. It takes a little getting used to this balance I know.
Gladiolas won't bloom for 60-100 days after planting, depending on the variety. I plant mine in the back of a raised bed, and I stake them as they grow. I don't grow many, but they are so beautiful, it's nice to include them in the landscape. You can also stagger your plantings so that you will have blooms up until the first hard frost.
At which point you will want to dig up the non-hardy varieties in cold regions, cutting off the tops and allowing them to set in a warm, dry area for a couple of weeks. Clean off any debris and store them in a location that ranges 40-50 degrees, such as the basement. You can store them in open boxes, baskets in peat moss or use nylon stockings and hang the corms.
A note for those in hot climates, such as Zones 9-10, where the summers are scorching, you may want to plant your glads in January or February and allow them to bloom in your mild season to avoid the hottest times of year.
Cutting your gladiolas is a little different than most flowers. You want to cut when at least 3 of the "florets" on the stem have opened. They will continue to open in the vase. Cut when it's cool, in the morning or evening. When cutting you want to leave as much foliage as you can on the plant.
Like other corms and bulbs they receive nutrients through the foliage. If you have the room it's really nice to have a cutting garden where you can grow rows of glads that have been staggered in their planting as I mentioned, to cut and bring in the house throughout the summer season. They are an elegant and beautiful flower worth growing for border color and cutting.
For information on digging and storing your glad bulbs click here. If you experience freezing temperatures you will need to dig up the corms.
Top Image: Wikimedia.org
Bottom Image: Brenda Hyde