Gladiolus is a genus that includes about 260 species of perennial flowering plants. These flowering plants belong to the family Iridaceae. The gladiolus plant is largely found in Asia, Mediterranean Europe, and Africa, especially in tropical and South Africa. These beautiful flowers symbolize remembrance, infatuation, honor, and faithfulness. Gladiolus is also known by the name of sword lily. The word, 'gladiolus' is actually derived from a Latin word, which means 'sword'.
This flowering plant is characterized by an un-branched stem, that grows from a bulbous and rounded corm. Generally, 1 to 9 longitudinal grooved leaves can be found on the stem. These grooved leaves remain enclosed in a sheath. Later, a flower spike emerges with flowers appearing one above another.
The flowers are usually found in the same side of the stem, and they are long and funnel-shaped. The elegant flowers of this plant come in an array of colors, ranging from deep red, yellow, mauve, to pink and white. The sepals and petals of the flowers are identical, which are called tepals. The dorsal tepal is larger than the other three tepals.
How to Grow Gladiolus
You can grow gladioli from the bulbs or corms. The ideal time for planting gladioli is early spring. They can be grown in almost all soil types, provided the soil is well-drained and fertile. However, slightly acidic soil is more preferable for growing this flowering plant.
Ideally, the corms should be planted about 2 to 3 inches deep, and 6 inches apart. The large corms can be planted about 4 to 5 inches deep, and about 7 inches apart. Each row should be spaced at least 21 to 35 inches apart. The beautiful blossoms of the plant usually appear about 8 to 9 weeks after planting. Apart from the corms, gladioli can be grown from the seeds. But they can be grown quite easily from the corms, as compared to the seeds.
How to Take Care of Gladiolus
Gladiolus cannot compete with weeds. So, be sure to remove weeds from time to time. For growing healthy gladioli, you have to maintain the appropriate level of soil moisture. So, apply 2 to 3 layers of mulch around the plant, as it can help retain moisture. Mulching can also help control the growth of weeds.
Regular watering is another important aspect of plant care. Watering can be done on weekly basis, especially during the dry periods. The site selected for planting gladioli should receive lots of sunlight. Fertilization is required only when the soil is not fertile, or when the plant is not thriving. In such a situation, you can apply a liquid fertilizer.
Deadheading is also an important part of plant care. So, remove the individual flower, as soon as it fades. When all the flowers are spent, cut the entire flower stalk to the ground. If your area is prone to hard frost, then lift or dug up the corm before the first frost.
Trim the stem up to half-inch of the corm, in about 6 to 8 weeks after the end of the blooming period. Take proper care of the gladiolus bulbs by removing soil and roots from them, and drying them in a well-ventilated and warm place. In warmer areas, the corms can be left on the ground. But be sure to apply a layer of mulch over them. You can store the corms, and use them to grow gladioli in spring.
So, the beautiful and attractive gladiolus can be grown without much efforts, if the primary requirement of the plant is met. The most important point is to provide adequate sunlight, water, and protect the plant from unwanted weeds of your garden.