Gladiolus are an iconic cut flower that most people recognize. You might not know their name, but you could recognize them in your grandma or mom’s garden and they are majestic! Glads have tall spikes, with large blossoms and come in nearly every color imaginable, even bi-colors. We have a wide assortment of colors from which to choose.
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Glads are an easy-to-grow flower, but they do require some care, as they are not hardy in Wisconsin. Many people grow them for one season and then dig and store the corms, (a bulb-like structure) over winter. Another option is to plant the corms, get one season out of them, and then just buy new corms the following year; essentially treating them as an annual flower. There is some thought that you get bigger, healthier flowers that way, plus you don’t have the hassle of digging them up in September. Want to learn more about growing Gladiolus?

If you want to grow them for cut flowers, it’s best to plant them in straight rows. This makes it easier to maintain, stake, and harvest them. If growing in a mixed garden, plant in groups of 5 or more of the same variety to get the best affect. They should be planted in well-drained soil, in full sun. They need full sun for larger and brighter flowers and sturdier stalks. They also need full sun for energy production for the corms, so that they can use that stored energy the following season.

To enjoy Glads throughout summer, there are two approaches. One is to plant every two weeks, mid-May through mid-June. A staggered planting such as this will give you beautiful flowers to enjoy in July and August. The other option is to purchase varieties that are early, mid, and late season blooming. Plant these in mid-May and enjoy the blooms through most of the summer.

Plant the corms with the pointed side up, approximately 4 times as deep as the diameter of the bulb. Space them 6-8 inches apart. Apply a layer of weed free mulch to keep weeds at bay and help keep moisture in. Glads require an inch of water a week for best blooms, so if adequate rainfall is not received, water them with a soaker hose.

During the coolest part of the day, cut the stalk diagonally with a sharp knife or florist’s shears. It’s best to cut stalks that have only 1-3 flowers open, as the remainder will open up in order up the spike. Place the flowers in lukewarm water immediately. If you plan to leave the corms and dig them in the fall, it’s important to leave at least 4 leaves for energy production. Place the bucket of flower spikes in a cool, dark place to allow the blooms to harden off.

In the fall after frost has killed all of the foliage, dig the corms and clean off any soil. Cut the stems just above the corms and allow them to cure for approximately 3 weeks. This is done by placing them in an airy, dry and warm place. After 3 weeks, any corms you planted in the spring should be separated from the new corms that developed over summer. Save the new corms for planting in the following spring.

Store corms in paper bags, in a dark, dry, well-ventilated area. Storage temperature should be around 35-45 degrees. In the spring, plant the new corms out, taking care to discard any that feel soft, dry or otherwise appear unhealthy. If possible it’s always good to plant Glads in a different location from year to year, too.

Gladiolus are a beautiful flower that can be grown with relative ease and deserve a spot in every garden. Their majestic spires tower above most flowers, drawing the gaze of whomever is lucky enough to spot them!