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Gladiola Care - The Basics

GladiolusThere are many species of gladiolas, most of which come from Africa though a few hail also from Europe. They grow from a corm that forms tiny cormels around the outside of it each year. It is advisable to dig them up each year if your winter is very wet, otherwise they may rot.

Cormels versus Bulbs and Winter Care

However if your region enjoys a fairly dry winter the corms can be left in the ground ready to flower the next year. The tiny cormels can be separated and planted, but they won't flower for a few years. Leaving them to grow along with the main corm until they are mature is better. Just be careful you don't put the spade through them all while weeding or cultivating.

Corms are similar to bulbs, but they are formed from a mass of solid tissue instead of layers like bulbs have. The top is pointed, so if you are not familiar with them, you just might think that is the bottom and plant them upside down. If this happens, the tops will do a u-turn and eventually reach the surface while the roots will grow down, but that takes up more time and energy for the plant, so your flowers may not be as good.

The Sword Lilly

The leaves of the gladioli are strap or sword-shaped and it is sometimes called the sword lily. Some gladiolas have extremely small flowers, while others have big flower spikes that can be quite spectacular. Unlike many flowers, the gladioli is one-sided, meaning the flower spikes face only one way so when being arranged in a vase, they cannot be turned to take advantage of the curve.

Gladioli petals can be wide enough to meet on each side; elegantly narrow or ruffled and cut. They can be a solid color or bicolor. Actually, they are not called petals but tepals, since the sepal and petal of the gladioli are almost identical.

Hardiness Issues


They can be grown successfully in temperate regions where frosts are not too severe. They are not too fussy about soil type, but do like good drainage. For this reason they grow well in sandy soils. They respond well to manure, but it must not be allowed to touch the corm, or rot will result. Make sure your glads have at least an inch of water each week during the growing season and mulch to help keep weeds at bay and conserve moisture.

Poor Growing Gladiola

If you notice that your glads seem to have poor growth, take a look at the surrounding plants. Do the gladiolas have to compete for water and nutrition? They also need full sun and protection from the wind. Staking them is necessary in windy areas. Good air circulation is beneficial to keep pests and disease at bay. Care for your gladiola is in fact simple, just keep these basics in mind.