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How to Prune a Gladiolus

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Gladiolus grow from tender structures similar to bulbs, called corms. The plants produce tall spikes that are adorned with multiple blossoms during the summer months, but they die back in the fall and go dormant for winter. In areas where the ground freezes, the corms must be dug up and stored indoors until the weather warms up in spring. Gladiolus requires only minimal pruning, primarily in the fall as you prepare the plants for winter.

Pinch off the old flowers on each stem as they wilt and die off. Grasp the withered bloom behind flower and break it off flush with the stalk.

Cut off the entire stem at the base once all the flower buds have finished flowering. Dispose of the old flower stalk after removal.

Prune back the foliage to within 2 inches of the soil once it yellows and dies back naturally in fall, usually after the first frost. Dig up the corms after foliage removal.

Spread the corms out in a warm, well-ventilated room to dry for three weeks. Pull the remaining foliage off the corms once they are completely dried. Store in paper bags in a dry 40- to 45-degree-Fahrenheit location until spring.

Plant Gladiolus

Gladiolus (Gladiolus spp.) Taller varieties also need shelter from strong winds to prevent toppling. Beds with poor drainage or heavy, clay-based soil must be avoided because gladiolus corms rot easily in cold, wet soil. Prepare the bed in advance by amending the top 12 to 15 inches of soil with a 2- to 4-inch layer of neutral compost. If growing taller gladiolus cultivars, install stakes in the bed at planting to provide support as the stalks form. Gladiolus corms range in size from 1/2 to 2 or more inches in diameter. Tall, plump gladiolus corms with a teardrop shape are superior to wide, flat corms, which may produce inferior quality flowers. For prolonged blooming, plant gladiolus corms in waves every two weeks from spring until midsummer. A 2- to 4-inch layer of lightweight mulch over the bed will help conserve soil moisture and decrease the need for frequent waterings, which in turn will lower the odds of bacterial and fungal growth in the corms.


Leaves may become damaged or die throughout the summer months. Cut these from the plant to improve the appearance of the gladiolus.

In areas without winter freezing, cut back the foliage after it dies but leave the corms in the ground to overwinter.

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