Gladioli are easy to grow.   When the soil has warmed up in March and April you can start planting gladioli corms.  There a number of things to consider when finding the best spot in your garden, but one thing is for certain, Gladioli make superb cut flowers so staggering the planting will give you weeks of fresh flowers not only in your garden but also in the vase.

How to grow Gladioli

Gladioli corms can be planted from March until mid July in most parts of Europe.  Finding the right spot is key to growing beautiful flowers.  As most gladioli grow up to 125cm, they are vulnerable to strong winds.  To give them the best start in life, start by finding a sheltered spot in the sun (e.g. against a fence or behind lower plants).  Most books will tell you to plant the corms at a depth of 10-15cm, but you can plant them as deep as 20cm, which should give the stalks a bit more support at the base.  If you cannot find a spot sheltered from the wind then it may be needed to stake the plants.  Gladioli corms should be planted around 15cm apart. The dwarf (Nanus) variety only grows to around 65cm and is less heavy, so is much less prone to falling over in strong winds. 

Gladioli need plenty of sun so don’t plant them in shady spots, as they would keep searching for sunlight and grow too tall (and weak) that way.  Also make sure that the soil is moist, but well-drained, and not too heavy.  They would feel right at home in sandy soil.  Gladioli like plenty of water to grow their bright, showy flowers, so if you receive less than an inch of water a week, make sure to water them regularly.  Adding some fertilizer when the flower spikes start to show will help the plants produce big healthy flowers. 

Gladioli look best in clumps of at least 10.  Any fewer and they might appear “lost” in the garden. Certainly if you plan to use them as cut flowers, then it makes sense to plant at least 10 of the same variety at a time.  If you plant different corms on say a weekly basis then you can enjoy these magnificent regal-looking flowers for several months.

Gladioli as perennials

Gladioli can be left in the ground after the leaves have died down, but only in areas where winter frost doesn’t get too severe.  Adding some extra fertilizer is recommended.  It is recommended in late autumn to cover the area where the corms are with a thick layer of mulch to insulate them from the worst cold.  In poor soil you should expect diminishing flower quality with each successive season, so discarding old corms and buying new ones each season might be preferable (gladioli bulbs tend to be relatively inexpensive). 

It is advisable to dig and divide the clumps of corms every few years.  Not doing so will result in a crowded piece of garden space with many corms competing for the same limited nutrients, risking lots of leaves and no flower spikes.

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