Glad for Gladiolas

It is hard to beat the stately elegance of a Gladiola. I was eight years old and in the second grade when the Gladiola became my favorite flower. My grandfather grew them and even at my very young age, I was amazed at how beautiful they were. I remember him taking huge bouquets to my school and somewhere inside of me was planted the idea, "I want to do that someday."

The Gladiola grows from a Corm, although it is often called a bulb. Both the bulb and corm are a food source for the new developing plant. Bulbs generally propagate themselves by division while the corm produces a new corm (or two or three) and shrivels away at the end of its growth cycle. 

In addition to a new corm(s) small Cormels form at the base of the new corm. These cormels will grow, but will take a couple years to produce a flower.

In my zone (zone 7) Gladiolas should be planted in late spring to early summer, May 1st to June 15th, give or take a few days. Planting at intervals over the six or seven week period gives an extended bloom from July to September.

Gladiolas are tall and top heavy. To avoid staking, plant the corms six to eight inches deep and avoid sprinkling as the water on the florets makes them very heavy. Planting in groups of 10 to 20 gives a showy display, but planting in rows makes care and cutting a little easier; it's a matter of preference.

Glads are somewhat susceptible to disease; plant only clean, healthy corms. I have found the number one enemy of the Gladiola are thrips. Only about a sixteenth of an inch at maturity, thrips make the plant look like it is dying and the flower shrivels before it has a chance to bloom.  Control thrips by keeping the glads well watered (not over watered) and well fed. Treatments of Orthene (systemic insecticide) at two to three week intervals, beginning when the plants are about six inches, will take care of the little pests. 

Don't be afraid to grow these wonderful flowers. They are a reward you will look forward to year after year.

Hummingbirds will be regular visitors and an added treat in your garden.

Gladiolas can be purchased through many online catalogs: K. van Bourgondien, Royal Duch Gardens and Brecks are just a few.  Sam's Club and Costco usually have good prices on Gladiola assortments.

If you have the space and want to plant a lot of glads, I recommend Fred Nagel & Sons

Plant some glads, enjoy the show and share pictures

We can talk about digging, storing and winter care a little later.


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