Gladiolus is a genus of perennial flowering plants, which are the members of the plant family, Iridaceae. There are about 260 species of flowering plants that belong to the genus, Gladiolus. The name 'gladiolus' is actually coined from the Latin word, 'gladius', which means sword. The plant is also known by the name of sword lily, due to its sword-like appearance. This flowering plant is widely found in Asia, Tropical Africa, Mediterranean Europe, and South Africa. The gladiolus is one of the most attractive plants to have in a flower garden, and it can be grown quite easily from the bulb or corm.
More About Gladiolus
The gladiolus plant is characterized by an unbranched stem with about 1 to 9 longitudinal grooved leaves, that remain enclosed in a sheath. The flowers appear one above the other on the same side of the stem. The flower spike is usually large. The flowers are funnel-shaped and long with identical sepals and petals.
The sepals and petals of the gladiolus flower are termed as tepals, which remain united at the base into a tube-like structure. The beautiful blossoms of the plant come in an array of colors, right from deep red, orange, purple, mauve, pink, yellow, to pure white. Gladiolus flowers are cherished throughout the world, and are widely used for flower arrangement.
How to Plant
You can easily find these plants in your local nursery or garden center. But if you want to grow them from the corms, then be sure to inspect them properly before purchasing. A healthy corm is the one that is free of soft spots and bruises. The bulbs or corms can be planted in the early spring, as soon as the winter frost is over. For planting gladiolus corms, you have to choose a sunny location, as this plant prefers full sun. Before planting the corms, never forget to prepare the soil with the help of a garden spade. If the soil is not very fertile, you can add peat moss or compost to it.
Now, dig a few holes of about 4 to 5 inches deep for planting the bulbs. Spacing is very important while planting them, if you want to grow large and healthy plants. The amount of spacing required depends on the size of the corms. Larger corms need to be planted at least 6 inches apart, while the medium ones can be planted 4 to 5 inches apart from one another. If you are going to plant more than one row of gladiolus, then keep in mind that each row should be spaced at least 21 to 35 inches apart. The corms should be planted in an upright position with the pointed side facing up.
After planting the corms, cover them with soil and water them properly. You can add mulch around the corms to help retain water and control the growth of weed. It can take about 8 to 9 weeks on an average for the gladiolus blossoms to bloom. The plants can be watered once in a week, but they can be watered more frequently during the dry season. As the flowers whiter, they can be removed, but foliage should be left on the plant till the end of the flowering season. The flower stalk can be trimmed at the end of the summer or the growing season, by cutting it back to the ground.
Taking Care of Gladiolus Corms
Gladiolus corms can be stored and used for growing the plants again. For this, the bulbs need to be properly take cared of. Ideally, they should be dug up and then stored properly before the first frost of winter. About 6 to 8 weeks after the end of the flowering season, you can dig up the bulbs using a garden shovel. However, if the first frost of winter occurs before that, then the bulbs should be dug up immediately. First, dig the soil around the corms and then lift them with care, so as to not cause any injury. Cut the stems from the corms and discard them.
Now, clean the corms by removing dirt, and then allow them to dry in a warm and well-ventilated place for about two weeks. After two weeks, remove the old and dried corm (located below the new corm) from the new one. Discard the old corms, as well as the corms with soft spots and bruises. Allow the new and healthy corms to dry for another one week, after which you can store them for the next year. You can put them in a container with proper air circulation. Paper bags, mesh bag, as well as nylon stockings can also be used for this purpose. Keep the bulbs in a cool and dry place. In warm areas, the corms can be left on the ground during winter, by applying a layer of mulch over them.
The stored corms can be used again in the spring to grow gladiolus plants. These flowering plants do not need much care and maintenance, provided they get enough sunlight and water. As far as fertilization is concerned, you can use a liquid fertilizer if the soil is not very fertile, or if the plant is not growing properly. For plants that grow taller than 3 feet, you can use stakes.