Gladiolus - Garden Basics - Flower - Bulb
Gladiolus are among the most popular of flowers grown for cutting. Each corm sends up an upright cluster of stiff leaves. A flower spike appears late in the season, with flowers borne one above another, all usually facing the same way. Through hybridization, hundreds of garden varieties have been produced, and gardeners can find flowers in almost any color except true blue. There are varieties that are hardy as far north as zone 7, but most gardeners above zone 9 will have to dig and store the bulbs over the winter.
Gladiolus are very popular as cut flowers. The best way to cut the flower is to slide a knife blade between the leaves, cutting the stem well below the first flower but leaving most of the leaves to mature normally and so provide food for the bulb. Cut just before the flower opens for longer lasting arrangements. Succession planting will allow you to have cut flowers throughout the season. Glads also make great container plants and can serve as accents in the perennial beds or annual borders. They look best planted in masses.
Plant gladiolus in a sunny location with plenty of moisture. Place the corms 6 to 8 inches apart and 6 to 8 inches deep. If not planted deep enough they are likely to fall over when heavily loaded with flowers.
Loosen the soil beneath the corms well so that roots can penetrate easily. Work bone meal into the soil before planting. They will need a side-dressing when the flower spikes are forming.
Before the first frost, lift the corms and cut off the tops close to the corm. Spread the corms in a cool, shady place to dry. If drying indoors or in an area with poor air circulation, consider running a fan. Poor air circulation encourages rot and mildew.
Once the corms have dried they should be dusted clean and stored in dark place in dry wood shavings or peat moss. Check bulbs periodically through the winter for signs of softening or rotting. Discard any questionable bulbs.