Growing Gorgeous Gladiolus
If you’ve ever heard that gladiolus are “grandma plants,” it’s time to shake off that outdated rumor! Besides, we know plenty of very cool grandmas, so there’s that. Gladiolus are anything but dusty and musty — in fact, they’re some of the most colorful, carefree, and dramatic bulbs available. If you’re ready to add some of these classic charmers to your garden, our growing tips will help you out.
Why Grow Glads?
Pull up a chair, friends, this is a long list:
- Upright growth takes up very little garden space
- Each bulb or corm grows up to 4’ tall and bears 10-12 stunning flowers
- They make amazing cut flowers
- They are super easy to grow
- They come in tons of colors
- Their foliage is nice-looking even after the flowers fade
- Zero pinching or pruning to get them to bloom
- Not all glads need staking
- No deadheading to keep them blooming
- Aaaaaand, no fertilizing
We’re pretty sure there’s about 17 more reasons to grow these beauties, but we’re equally certain we just convinced you. Personally, they had us at “no deadheading."
How to Grow Glads
Be sure to check out our Gladiolus Growing Guide for more in-depth details, but here the skinny in a nutshell (did we just make up a phrase?):
- Choose your location: Make your garden spot a sunny and well-drained one, and that’s all your glads will need.
- Plan your planting schedule: Glads bloom about 90 days after planting, so to create the best effect with long bloom, plant batches in 2-week intervals starting just before your last frost date. If you plant several batches, you’ll be enjoying gladiolus into late summer!
- Plant ‘em: Plant corms 5” apart and 4” deep. Don’t overthink it; you can fit a lot of gladiolus corms into a small space. Why plant so many, you ask? Because glads are not the kind of flower that bloom repeatedly after you cut them; they’re a one-and-done dazzler. But, oh, so worth it.
- Water thoroughly after planting to settle everything in.
- Stake if necessary: Now, not every glad will require this, but if you need to stake them, thin bamboo canes do the trick rather nicely.
- Water: If you don’t receive any rain that week, aim to give your glads about 1” of water per week while they’re actively growing.
- Harvest: Wait until the bottom 2-3 blooms are open before cutting, then place them into water and move to a cool location.
- Plan your winter strategy: If you garden in USDA Hardiness Zones 7-10, you’re good to go and don’t need to do anything. Glads are winter hardy in those warmer climates. For cooler climates, dig them up and store over the winter, or consider them annuals and get fresh ones in the spring. And remember, glads are like most other bulbs — you’ll need to wait until their foliage dies so
Because they are so dramatic with their vertical growth, gladiolus are exciting to work with, both in the garden and in flower arrangements. If you’ve created a glad arrangement or garden display that you’re proud of, post it and tag us on Instagram @easytogrowbulbsca so we can share it!
- Plant glads as a colorful border around the veggie garden.
- Plant in drifts of 7 bulbs (at least) for a colorful display.
- Pair with dahlias, peonies, zinnias, and daylilies.
- Create a stunning cut arrangement by placing cut glads in a vase (trim stems to desired length) and fill in around the base with shorter cut hydrangeas. The hydrangeas will help to keep the glads upright in the vase, and provide a perfect complement to the glads’ upright form.
- For a more modern and dramatic design, combine cut glads with curly willow in a vase.
- Use a column-shaped vase to complement the form of these long-stemmed flowers.
- Jenny Peterson