With its beautiful flowering, gladiolus is very popular with gardening enthusiasts. This flower is one of the few plants that has over one hundred varieties. In addition, different types of gladioli have varying colour palettes, ranging from dark purple to bright colours. Given that they adapt to many soil types, gladioli flowers are easy to grow and maintain.

The gladiolus, or sword lily, is a perennial plant from the Iridaceae family. The origins of this flower are numerous, which explains the 150 varieties of gladioli identified in Asia, Europe and Africa. The types of gladioli differ from each other by their shape, size, colour and appearance of their flowering. Indeed, some flowers have bulbs, while others have corms. However, gladiolus is best known as a bulbous plant. There are also variegated varieties of gladioli that display various shades of each colour present in a rainbow. Moreover, the appearance of flowering gladioli varies from one species to another depending on the presence or not of a fringe on the flowers.

The prerequisites for growing gladiolus

In general, gladioli do not choose a particular type of soil to grow. Flowering, however, depends on the nature and quality of the soil. To ensure that the soil of your garden is well prepared and ready to accommodate gladioli, make sure that it is well-drained because the flower bulbs need intensive irrigation in order to grow. If you find that your soil is not damp enough, water it regularly and abundantly to provide gladiolus with the best possible growing conditions. Also make sure that there is no weed contaminating your ground. In addition, lay out your growing space in a manner that maximizes optimal sun exposure. This will allow the flowers to grow quite rapidly. If you have decided to grow several gladiolus seedlings, make sure you have a relatively large surface area since a distance of 8 inches (20 cm) is required between each plant. Finally, make sure that the gladiolus seedlings you will grow are in good health and free from soft tissues, traces of rot or dark spots.

Planting gladioli

On a perfectly drained soil, start by digging shallow holes about 4 inches (10 cm) deep to plant the gladiolus seedlings. Remember to respect the mandatory 8 inches (20 cm) between each planting hole to facilitate air circulation between the young shoots. To yield better results, it is advisable to plant gladioli seedlings in groups.  However, you can also opt for line planting. Put the plants in the ground and cover them up. From this point on, you can start watering the soil abundantly. When the stalks first begin to appear, secure them with stakes in order to give them additional support and prepare them for flowering. Once the flowers have blossomed, a new bulb will be created if you cut off the main stem that supports the gladiolus’ flower, taking care to preserve 4-5 leaves on the secondary stem.

The gladiolus’ growing cycle

Given that gladiolus seedlings need rich and moist soil to grow, the best time to proceed with planting is definitely in the spring. Thus, you can begin to work your garden’s soil in mid-March to accommodate the seedlings from the month of April. That way, your gladioli will bloom in summer. However, if you want to stagger the flowering periods, you can continue planting in June. At the approach of autumn, you must remove the gladiolus bulbs from the ground and preserve them for the duration of winter. However, there also exist some varieties that are planted in autumn, including the dwarf gladiolus, Colville’s gladiolus or Byzantine gladiola.

Maintenance of gladioli

In order for your gladioli to thrive in your garden, be sure to maintain soil moisture by watering regularly, at the rate of two times a week. Well-drained soil will also allow you to fight off grey mould liable to contaminate the stems of flowers. When the flowers begin to wilt, sever the bulbs and store them in a well-ventilated and dry location. This method is used to prepare gladioli for the coming of winter and, at the same time, to preserve the bulbs before replanting them the following spring. Moreover, the maintenance of gladioli also involves the fight against pests, among which slugs, aphids and thrips are included. Do not forget to spray fungicides and / or insecticides on the bulbs and corms to get rid of these parasites.

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Published in Summer bulbs by Alexander on 11 Aug 2011