What do you call them? Gladiola, Gladiolus, Gladioli, or just Glads;… either way, I call them unique and truly beautiful flowers! Many gardeners have passed over glads in recent years, opting for more “modern” flowers; but gladioli NEVER go out of style in my eyes!
Even if you can’t find room for glads in your regular landscape beds, you should plant some in an out-of-the-way place as they make great cut flowers for vases inside the home, and will last about 2-3 weeks with proper water preparation (use any cut flower water additive). They begin flowering from the bottom up and should be cut as soon as flowers appear.
Glad flowers come in many wonderful colors. Pretty much the only color not available is “true blue.” The leaves are narrow and sword-shaped and appear very iris-like, as they belong to the iris family.
Most glads grow to a height of about 3 feet, but there are dwarf varieties that are less than 2 feet tall. They do well in most soil types and require little-to-no fertilizing, but they do need good drainage.Grow them in full sun and in a bed that gets good air circulation.
Gladiola are a bulb that you actually plant in the Spring and not the fall like tulip bulbs or hyacinth. Stick gladiola bulbs in the ground after all danger of frost has passed; at about the time your stella-de-oro daylily begin to flower. If you plant them in late May, they’ll flower in early August at about the same time you see Rose of Sharon flowering.
Now I’m gonna let you in on a little landscape tip/secret about planting bulbs: you don’t have to space them 6 or 8 inches apart like everybody says! The way to get the most stunning display with gladiola and most other bulbs is to dig a big hole about 6 inches deep and dump them all in there (make sure they face up) and cover em’ with dirt!
This creates dense clumps of showy flowers when they emerge.
Water them well when you first plant them and give the little gals an inch or so of water per week thereafter. They do occasionally have issues with insects, and any foliar insecticidal soap will work to keep them pest free.
You Gotta Dig Them UP Before Winter
Here’s where I’m gonna lose some of you because glads do require some maintenance. Gladiola bulbs will come back year after year in regions where the ground does not freeze, but they can’t handle the heavy winters here in Chicagoland, so if you want to keep them for the next year, dig em’ up after frost has blackened their leaves and store them in a paper bag in your basement over the winter.
Before storage, remove all stems and rooting and add a little Sevin-dust insect powder to the bag.
NOW is the time to buy gladiola bulbs as growers take orders early and raise prices just before winter. Most will take your order now, and ship them to you at the optimal time for growing next year. Click here to check out premium Dutch Tulips at Brecks
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