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Glad Tidings for Summer

Glad Tidings for Summer - Caring for Gladioli, the Joys of the Garden

Gladioli are extremely simple to grow and utterly rewarding. You can plant several varieties of these deceptively easy and delightful flowers in the spring. By midsummer, you will have gorgeous cut flowers for your table. Everyone will think you have been to the farmer’s market for these showy gladiolus stems, instead of your own backyard!

Choose Your Colors.

Choose your colors from a huge variety: pink, red, yellow, white, purple, orange, peach, and more. Even bi-colored gladioli are available. Petals may be wavy, ruffled, or even lacy. Select the look you like the best!

Gladioli may grow from 2’ to 4’ high. (Read package labels carefully.)

Begin with at least a dozen or two gladiolus corms (like bulbs). In a few years, you can expect to have a whole lot more!

Pick gladiolus corms that are sturdy and at least 1” in diameter. Anything smaller will probably not bloom the first season.

Select a Sunny Site.

Pick a sunny spot in your garden for your gladioli, preferably protected from direct wind. Full sun is needed, if your gladioli are to produce sturdy stalks and vibrant colored flowers.

Gladioli do best in well-drained soil. Cultivate, or loosen, the soil to a depth of about one foot.

Sow Lovely Glads!

Plant the gladiolus corms (bulbs) in the spring, sit back and wait, and prepare to be amazed. Lovely stalks of floral beauty will sprout up in midsummer.

Plant your gladioli in bunches of seven, for the most spectacular blooming display. With the pointed side up and the hairy (scarred) side down, set each gladiolus corm into a hole that is roughly four times as the height of the corm (or approximately 10” to 12” deep). Space your gladioli about 6” to 8” apart.

Arrange gladioli in rows for the simplest maintenance and organization. (Be sure to label gladiolus colors and varieties for future reference!) Gladioli may be planted among other flowers (such as daylilies) or even in the vegetable garden.

Extend Your Display.

Beginning in early May and continuing through mid-June, you can stagger your plantings of the gladiolus corms for prolonged blooming. Gladioli may produce blossoms from July until the first frost.

Plant a new set of gladiolus bulbs every two weeks!

Water Them Well.

Give your gladioli a soft shower at least three times a week, if nature doesn’t. Be gentle with the gladiolus blossoms when you water. Gladioli need at least an inch of water per week.

Mulching may help your garden bed to retain moisture for your gladiolus plantings.

Stake Your Ground.

As your gladioli pop up and grow taller, you will want to stake them, unless you have a fence or wall you can tie the gladiolus stems to. Bamboo stakes work well. Old nylons are much gentler for your gladioli than wire twist-ties.

Pick Some Pretties!

Grab your garden clippers (or kitchen shears), and head outside for some outstanding gladiolus flowers to display on your table. Glance over your shoulder, and you might see your neighbors staring enviously at your gladioli, as they marvel at your green thumb!

The trumpet-like flowers appear in double rows, making gladioli ideal for showing off in a tall glass pitcher or vase.

In the morning or evening (not midday), cut gladiolus flowers when two or three blooms are opened. The others will follow anyway, extending the life of your floral arrangement. Be sure to leave a few leaves on the gladiolus stems, as they will absorb sunlight and nutrients and encourage corm growth underground.

For the best display, cut your gladioi the night before you plan to show them off. This allows the gladiolus blossoms to drink up water and recover from the cutting.

Find Them Before the Frost.

When gladioli grow and bloom, the original “mother corm” dries up and dies underground. At the same time, new offspring gladiolus corms appear. If you live in the northern half of the US, you will want to dig up these corms in the fall (before the ground freezes).

Gently brush excess dirt off the gladiolus corms. Sort them by color and variety. Allow them to dry out for about a month in a warm, well-ventilated area. Remove the withered mother corm, and discard it.

Place gladiolus corms in mesh bags, slatted trays, or old nylons. Store them in the basement or another cool, dark place, and re-plant them next spring.

Don’t Miss Your Chance!

Plant some gladioli in the spring. You'll be glad you did!

Click this link for “Glad Tidings for Summer: Caring for Gladioli, the Joys of the Garden.”

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Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink.

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