If you like a colorful garden, then gladiolus is the right choice for you. These bright flowers come in spikes of multiple blooms on a stake and are the ideal decoration for a garden in the middle of the summer. Also, there’s one more great thing about them. You can choose from an array of color, forms, and sizes, so it’s impossible not to find a breed that is suitable for you. Learn how to grow gladiolus and spice up your garden.
What You Should Know About Gladiolus
This plant comes from South Africa, and you can find it in a wide variety of colors and sizes. You only need to decide what you need, as you can find a gladiolus to fit every taste. You can choose anything from the tiny breeds to those that reach several feet in height.
Once you decide to plant some in your garden, they’ll definitely won’t go undetected. Some of them have truly breathtaking colors that will catch your eye. These strong colors vary from bright shades of red and pink to creamier pastel hues or even green.
Most people grow this plant in their garden to use it for cut flowers, as it’s perfect for bouquets and decorations. It is a perennial flower so that you can keep it in the garden for the next season. It goes well with other flowers, so there won’t be any problems. No matter what you will use it for, here is how to grow gladiolus and how to care for it.
How to Grow Gladiolus
When getting ready to plant a flower, there are a few things you should check first. Make sure your garden has the suitable soil for it. Otherwise, it won’t grow properly. Then, choose the ideal place where the flower will thrive. Choose the right moment for the planting, and then follow all the steps carefully. This way, your gladiolus will grow healthy and will decorate your garden with bright colors.
Choose the Soil
Gladioli can thrive in a soil with good drainage properties. Therefore, a loamy soil that doesn’t retain water is perfect. If your soil is rather muddy and gets moist easily, you can create some raised beds to grow the flowers. Also, loosen it by about 12 inches before starting the planting. Adding some sand might do the trick, but it’s better to do anything to avoid soaking.
Choose the Spot
The growth of the gladiolus is dependent on the spot where you decide to plant it. The ideal spot is someplace where they get full sunlight. You will see they can bloom just as well in a partially shaded spot. However, the colors and the flowers won’t look as powerful.
Choose the Right Moment for Planting
When learning to grow gladiolus, the first thing you need to know is when to start growing them. Usually, these flowers can cope better with warmer temperatures. However, you can still plant them in areas with a harsher climate, but they’ll need special treatment during winter. No matter where you live, they still cannot survive frost, so start the planting once you’re sure there won’t be any more frost coming after them.
Purchase the Corms
Gladioli grow from corms, which are small circular formations that resemble bulbs. You can find out which flowers will grow bigger judging from these corms, so pay attention when you choose them. For instance, the size of the corm will tell you the size of the future gladiolus. If you want one of the tall varieties, go for a thicker corm. If their center is sturdy and thick as well, it means the plant will be healthy.
Prepare the Soil
The properties of the soil are extremely important for this flower, so this step is another important thing to keep in mind while learning how to grow gladiolus. By using a garden fork or a similar tool, start loosening the soil until it reaches about 15 inches deep.
Afterward, you can raise the level of the soil by 2 to 4 inches. This will help you improve its drainage, and will let water flow beneath the corms so that they won’t soak. Keep in mind this is extremely important, so do not skip this step. Once you’re done with loosening and raising, you should move to the next step and add some compost in the soil before the planting.
Add the Corms
Dig holes that are about 6 inches deep, and leave between 6 and 8 inches between them. This will give gladioli enough space to grow and be aerated. Place the corms in these holes at a depth of about 4 inches, and then cover them lightly with soil. Make sure the corm is facing upwards. After you have covered them with soil, press firmly to fix them in the holes.
In case of taller varieties, you can already add the stakes. This way, as soon as they start growing, you can already fix them to the stakes and prevent their damage. When you are done placing all the corms in the holes, add plenty of water. This will help them start the germination without any damage.
If you want gladiolus blooms throughout the entire warm season, you can repeat the planting once every two weeks. This way, you’ll have gladioli blooming in your garden until the end of summer.
How to Care for Gladiolus
After the planting, you’ll need to wait about 90 days until the flowers reach full bloom. Until then, you should learn how to care for gladiolus and help them be healthy.
If you want to keep weeds from choking your gladioli, wait until the first sprouts get out of the ground. Then, add a layer of mulch around them. Most of the time, the growth of the gladiolus flower gets interrupted by weeds which slowly take over. Mulch will keep them away while keeping the soil moist around the base of the stem.
While they are still growing, gladiolus flowers need watering only moderately. The soil only needs to stay moist, so avoid giving them too much water. In case of light rains, or if the area is a bit on the dry side, you should set up a strict watering schedule during the hot summer days.
This operation is important if you want to keep the flowers bushy and bright. Once you spot a dead flower or a bud that has started wilting, remove it immediately. In some cases, all the flowers might fade, leaving you with a barren stalk. There’s no need to worry, as this happens quite often. As soon as all the flowers have fallen off, cut the stalk as well. This way, you’ll ensure the growth of the gladiolus for next season.
If you are growing gladioli for cut flowers, you’ll need to know how to harvest the blooms properly. As you probably know, one gladiolus plant has multiple flowers, and they are arranged in spikes. The flower on these spikes will not open all at once.
Instead of waiting until all the flowers are open, you can cut the spikes after three of them are already in bloom. If you place this spike in a vase full of water, the rest of the flowers will gradually open. Use a knife to cut the spike, and make a diagonal cut. Also, be careful with the leaves you’ll leave on the stem. You shouldn’t kill the corm that is still in the soil.
The ideal moment to cut the flowers is either during early morning or during the evening. This is the time when they feel the freshest, so try not to cut them at other hours of the day.
Storing the Corms
Gladiolus is a perennial flower. However, if you live in one of the colder areas, the corms won’t resist winter. This means you should dig them up and store them until spring comes and the last frost passes. At this point, you should redo the planting process. Until the warm season is back, here’s how to store these corms.
Dig the corms up before the first frost, together with any smaller corms that might have started sprouting from them. Then, keep them in a dry aerated room for two or three weeks. The older corms will start drying, and you’ll have to peel them off after these weeks. Then, you’ll need to keep them until the spring comes and are ready for planting. They will be best preserved in a cold and dry place where they get plenty of aeration. To protect them, they might need a spray of insecticide.
Learning how to grow gladiolus is perfect for those gardeners that want a backyard full of brightly colored flowers. The plant is easy to grow and, if you care for it properly, it can bloom season after season. There are gladioli for everyone, coming in various hues and sizes. Pick your right variety, purchase the corms, and get ready for the planting.
Image source: Max Pixel