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Gladiolus Flower Description
With strikingly tall upright spikes of summer flowers, Gladioli can look especially stunning in cut-flower displays as well as in the garden. The flower blooms arrive in the early and midsummer, in a wide variety of colours from cream-white right through to lilac, pinks, blues, purples, and indigo.
Cultivating gladioli as decorative plants does present the grower with some problems as the flower heads last for only a fortnight and the plants usually require to be staked, except in the most sheltered of positions.
On the plus-side their showy displays of shape and colour make up for any drawbacks. The original gladioli species have been largely replaced by hybrid varieties that are half-hardy. These hybrid gladioli are planted in springtime, flower through the summer, and then should be lifted and stored in a frost-free environment for the winter.
There are a few species of Gladiolus that may be planted in the autumn and can remain in the ground for the winter.
Cultivation of Gladiolus
Gladiolus should be sown in fertile, well drained soil in the full sun. Gladioli intended for garden decoration in a mixed border should be planted in bunches with the corms
10 to 15cms apart. Gladioli grown for cutting and display should be planted in rows that are 30 to 40cms apart.
About eight weeks after setting the corms begin to water extensively and particularly during any extended dry periods especially after the flower spikes have begun to show. Also being liquid feeding at this time also. Stake plants with sturdy canes on the opposing side of the flower spike using raffia or wire to secure the stake to the plant.
Ahead of the first hard frost of the autumn / winter and when the gladioli foliage is beginning to turn brown the corms should be lifted by fork. Clean off the soil and cut the main stem to about 1cm above the crown of the corm. Let the gladioli corms dry for up to two weeks and store in trays in a frost-free environment.
Gladioli Pests and Diseases
Gladiolus corms are prone to attack by thrips and aphids that produces coarse brown patches. Thrips may also infest growing plants creating mottling on the foliage. Storage rot can also be a problem for corms when they are over-wintering.
Propagation of Gladiolus
During the winter remove the pea-sized cormlets that are usually apparent at the base of the parent corm. Plant the cormlets close together in an outdoor bed in early spring to a depth of 5 to 7.5cm deep.
Place a layer of sand below and above the cormlets and water well and keep the bed free of weeds. In the autumn lift the cormlets and treat in the same manner as mature corms.