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How to Plant & Care for Gladiolus Bulbs

Gladiolus is a bulbous flowering perennial native to Europe, Asia and Africa. It typically grows to about 4 feet in height and produces flowers on spikes that can be any color, depending on the variety. Gladiolus flowers between 60 and 100 days after planting. It is relatively easy to grow, but requires special winter care in temperate regions.

Plant gladiolus bulbs in spring after the last frost date in your area. Choose a location that receives full sunlight throughout the day and has fertile, well-drained soil. Spread 1 inch of peat moss over the site prior to planting and use a garden tiller to incorporate into the soil.

Dig a hole about 5 inches deep for each gladiolus bulb. Place the bulb in the hole with the pointed side facing up. Refill the hole with soil and water deeply. Space gladiolus bulbs at least 4 inches apart to allow room for growth.

Spread a 2-inch layer of mulch over the soil surrounding gladiolus to stunt the growth of weeds and help conserve moisture. Begin the layer at least 3 inches away from the base of the gladiolus plants to allow enough air circulation.

Water gladiolus bulbs once per week throughout the growing season. Do not allow standing water to accumulate around gladiolus bulbs or bulb rot may occur. Apply water early in the morning so excess moisture can evaporate before temperatures fall at night.

Feed gladiolus bulbs once per year in early spring before new growth occurs. Use a slow-release fertilizer to provide nutrients at an even rate throughout the growing season. Follow the instructions on the package for proper dosage and application.

Dig up gladiolus bulbs in late fall, just before the first frost of the season. Store the bulbs in a cool, dry room with a constant average temperature of around 40 degrees F. Replant the bulbs the following spring in the same location after all danger of frost has passed.


Pine needles make excellent mulch for gladiolus bulbs. Store gladiolus bulbs over the winter in a root cellar, garage or attic. Gladiolus bulbs may be left in the ground all year in areas where winter frost is not a threat.

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