Gladiolus have been admired and planted by generations of gardeners. They are fast growing bulb plants and turn quickly from corm into elegant flower spikes with orchid-like blooms. The cut gladiolus flower tips make excellent cut flowers and look spectacular in bouquets and vases. They are pretty stunning in the garden as well.
Meet the Gladiolus
What a journey this plant makes. The gladiolus (Gladiolus spp.) goes into the ground a bulb-like corm, grows into flower stalks between 2 and 5 feet long, then adorns the home in summer with gorgeous bouquets. In some varieties, this transformation can take as little as 60 days.
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You can find "glads" in such a rainbow of gorgeous colors that's it's easier to list the ones it doesn't come in than those it does. These flowers can be white, pink, red, lavender, purple, and burgundy, as well as yellow and green. And they come in different sizes, too. The full size glads have stems over a yard long, while dwarfs are half that size. The tallest ones sometimes need staking. The funnel-shaped blossoms open one at a time starting at the bottom and work their way up.
Along with the bright, showy flowers, gladiolus produce long, sword-shaped green leaves in upright fans. This accounts for their nickname, sword lily.
Grow a Gladiolus
Gladiolus bulbs couldn't be any easier to grow unless they planted themselves. Select a planting location in full sun and a site with fertile, well-draining soil. Loosen the soil with a garden fork and blend in organic compost before planting.
Select and plant the largest corms you can find. These produce the largest blossoms. Poke holes for the corms in the soil, each one some 4 inches deep. Set the corm in the hole, pointed end up, and tuck the soil around it. Space the plants at least 6 inches apart. Planting in rows is the best idea if you are growing glads for cut flowers. Otherwise, they look great in the garden when small groups of glads are mixed in beds with other plants. Water enough to keep the soil moist.
Use Your Cut Gladiolus
The best time to cut flowers is when your gladiolus stems have lower buds beginning to open. Cutting them at that point will give the cut flowers a longer life. Opt for stems that have a few buds at least a quarter open.
Make the actual cuts early in the morning to avoid the heat of the day. Use a sharp pruner to cut the stalks on the diagonal and place them immediately into a container filled with warm water. Take the container with the flowers to a cool, dark place and let it sit there for several hours before arranging the blossoms in vases. Once they are arranged, snip off lower flowers as they fade. It helps to trim off an inch of each stalk every few days.