The gladiolus is one of my preferred flowers to include in a floral arrangement. Its striking, spiky appearance along with vibrant blossoms in hues of white, yellow, pink, and orange make it an absolute delight. Although effortlessly accessible at florists, why not consider cultivating these resilient plants in your garden? In this manual, we will explore the various types of gladioli available and how to manage them both in your home and outdoor space.
Gladiolus plants, also known as sword lilies, are hardy and can grow in zones two through 10. However, they can only be grown as perennials in zones eight through 10. There are over 250 different species of gladiolus plants that originate from Central Africa, South Africa, and Eurasia. These plants produce flowers in a variety of shapes and sizes ranging from two and a half inches to over five inches. The flowers grow on one side of the stem, and the largest flower is typically at the base. The bottom flowers open first, and hummingbirds tend to enjoy them.
These plants are easy to grow, but some factors should be considered when caring for them. Gladiolus plants typically take 60 days to flower; therefore, planting times may vary depending on your location. Planting them about a month before the last frost of the season is recommended. They should be planted six inches apart, at least two inches into the soil. Well-drained soil is ideal, with sandy soil being preferred by some gardeners. Gladiolus plants require moist soil and should receive at least an inch of water per week. Mulching two to three inches at the base helps maintain moisture. Full sun is best for their growth. Since these plants can grow up to four to five feet tall, staking them is necessary to prevent them from falling over.
Cultivating Gladiolus in Containers
To grow gladiolus inside, opt for a smaller variety to prevent the plants from outgrowing the container. A pot with numerous draining holes, at least one foot deep and 12 inches in diameter, is ideal. Keep the soil moist and ensure that your plant receives plenty of sunlight after planting the corms.
While these plants’ blooms are beautiful, they grow better when the flowers are removed as soon as they fade and wilt. Cut the stem about two to three inches above the soil after all the blooms have died. Indoor-grown gladiolus plants typically do not require pruning.
After blooming, the corm used to cultivate your plant will wither away, and new ones will form. To grow gladiolus the following year, preserve the new corms by storing them where air can move freely between them. Humidity should be low, but temperature cannot be so low that the corms freeze. Generally, the ideal storage temperature ranges from 35 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. In warmer regions, these plants will return every year without assistance.
To reproduce this plant, there are two methods you can employ. The first method involves using the corm to grow new plants every spring. However, this method may take a few years for the plant to bloom. Alternatively, you can germinate seeds by leaving dead blooms on the plant for six weeks. After this, you will get a hard seed casing that requires two to three years of care to bloom.
The gladiolus plant is susceptible to several pests, including thrips. These insects feed on the plant’s blooms and leaves, causing white streaks and patches on the foliage. To prevent these pests, dip the corms into boiling water before storing them for winter or spray the plant with Neem oil if they are already in the ground.
With over 250 varieties to choose from, the gladiolus offers plenty of options for your garden. Some of the most popular types include Candyman, which has deep pink blooms; Black Star, which can reach up to 60 inches in height and has deep purple blooms; and Dream’s End, which grows to three feet tall and boasts large orange blooms. Other varieties include Black Beauty with burgundy blooms, Green Star with bright yellow blooms, Peter Pears with peach blooms and red centers, and Prins Claus with white blooms and pink details.