Gladiolus

How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Gladiolus

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Gladiolus is a classic perennial known for its tall flower spikes.  A great cutting flower, gladioli look beautiful in midsummer bouquets. 

Available in a multitude of colors, gladioli grow between 2 to 6 feet in height.

The taller varieties, which should be staked, are often placed in the back of a garden to nicely complement shorter plants.

In zones 7 and colder, gladioli corms need to be lifted—and replanted in the spring.

 

Planting

  • Plant gladiolus bulbs in the spring once the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed. See your local frost dates here.
  • Ready your garden by using a garden fork or tiller and loosen the soil to about 12 to 15 inches deep. After loosening the soil, mix in a 2– to 4–inch layer of compost.
  • Set the corm in the hole about 4 inches deep with the pointed end facing up. Cover with soil and press firmly.
  • Space the corms 3 to 6 inches apart. Water the corms thoroughly.
  • Gladioli like well-drained, light soil and full sun.
  • If you’re planting tall varieties, be sure to stake them at planting time. Be careful not to damage the corms with the stakes.
  • It takes about 90 days from the time gladioli are planted to root, grow, bloom, and store enough energy for the next season.

Care

  • Put a 2– to 4–inch layer of mulch around your gladioli to keep your soil moist and help prevent weeds.
  • If you get less than 1 inch of rain a week, water your plants regularly throughout the summer. Otherwise, water them moderately when in growth to keep the soil moist.
  • Remove the faded/dead flowers to ensure continuous growth. Once all the flowers on a stalk have gone, cut off the stalk.
  • Be sure to leave the plant intact so it can mature and rejuvenate the corms for the next season.
  • If you live in zones 7 or 8, put down a layer of hay or straw for winter protection.
  • Corms should be dug before the first frost if you live in zone 7 or ones colder. See instructions below.

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Pests/Diseases

Harvest/Storage

Storing Gladioli

Before the first frost, you can dig up gladiolus to store over the winter.

  • Use a space and dig up the entire plant, grasping the top to pull it out of the soil. Avoid bruising or injuring corms while digging. Shake off all loose soil and discard damaged corms. Cut the stalk within 1 inch above the corm. Save the small cormels separately if you so desire.
  • Allow the corms to dry in the Sun for 1 or 2 days if the weather agrees. Sift out excess soil and place corms in wooden flats or trays. Cure in a warm and airy location for 2 weeks (at a temperature of 80-85°F). Remove and throw away the oldest bottom corms (from the base of the new one).
  • Dust freshly dug, clean corms with a fungicide (“bulb dust”) to avoid disease problems. Place dust and bulbs or other structures in a paper sack and shake vigorously.
  • Store the large, new corms in paper boxes, open paper bags, cloth bags, wooden trays with screen bottoms, or old onion sacks. Stack or hang the containers so air can move among them. Store the corms at 35 to 45°F in low humidity. A cool basement is quite suitable. Do not allow corms to freeze.
  • Replant these corms in the spring for another year of beautiful blooms.
  • Learn more tips for storing gladiolus through the cold winter.

Recommended Varieties

Wit & Wisdom

Gladiolus are one of the August birth flowers.

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Gladiolus

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