Gladioli are perennial bulbous plants that belong in the same family as irises, Iridaceae. With most species originating in Southern Africa, gladioli are perfect to grow in Florida's warm, humid, tropical climate. In cooler regions, the bulbs will require digging up for winter, but in Florida, they can remain in the ground year-round. Planting and growing gladioli in the Florida garden is the same as in any other region. Their tall spikes of colorful flowers will be a welcome addition to the landscape and will keep blooming for years to come.
Choose an area in your garden to plant the gladiolus bulb, situated in full sun or partial sun. For best growth, plant the bulbs in an area that will receive at least five hours of direct sunlight each day. Planting gladioli in shady conditions will cause the plants to become straggly and have fewer blooms.
Clear the planting area of weeds or other growth. Pull the vegetation out by hand or use an herbicide to kill everything. Wait one to two weeks before placing the bulbs into the ground if herbicides are used. This will allow time for the poison to be washed from the planting site.
Select a planting site where the soil drains efficiently and does not retain water. In poor drainage sites, mounds will be required to raise the root systems and bulbs out of the soggy conditions. Gladiolus bulbs will rot if planted in continuously wet soil.
Amend the planting site with a layer of peat or compost. Work the organic material into the soil to a depth of six inches. Add a 12-4-8 fertilizer to the planting site and work it into the soil before planting the bulbs.
Dig a one- to two-inch hole with a hand trowel and place the bulb into it, with its point facing upward. Space the gladiolus bulbs six inches apart. Plant the bulbs in a neat row for a formal look, or plant the bulbs in a natural drift for a more informal look.
Water the bulbs in well once planted. Keep the planting site moist, but not soggy, during the germination period and periods of growth and flowering. Cut back the watering to once a week once the gladioli have finished blooming.
Fertilize the gladiolus bulbs with a bulb fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season and as they begin to form flowers. Spread the fertilizer evenly around the growing site and water in well.