Gardening 101: When To Plant Gladioli Bulbs

Gladiolus is a classic plant known for its tall and sturdy flower spikes and large, bright flowers. They are also known for their eye-catching looks. They are one of the most preferred flowers in a summer bouquet. And how can they not, when they not only look brilliant, but they’re easy to grow as well?

Red gladioli flower in the garden

If you’re a gardening enthusiast and want to add some of them to your own space, then you are in the right place. Here, we will show you when and how you can grow your own gladioli bulbs in easy steps. Ready to find out everything? Let’s go!

When is the right time to plant gladioli bulbs?

There is an endless variety of plants, and most of them need to be planted in a specific season, while others can be planted at any time of the year. The ones that require to be planted in a particular season have reasons behind this fact. Just like that, when it comes to gladioli corms, it is better to plant them in the right season. Experts have suggested that one should always plant their gladioli in spring. Why only spring? Let’s talk more about why spring is the perfect season for you to plant and grow your gladiolus corms

Springtime

Plant experts and experienced gardeners encourage everyone to plant their bulbs in the spring season. As soon as the soil is warmed up nearing March and April, dig the soil up and plant the bulbs right in. Although they prefer the full sun, partial shade can also be ideal for them. 

All they need to thrive is good, soft soil. If the weather is too harsh on the soil and does not let it stay hydrated, it will only result in poorly grown bulbs. They will probably die down in a couple of weeks, and you will have to start working on new corms. This is why spring/late spring is the best growing season for them.

Gladioli bulbs lie on the ground

Early Summer/Late Summer

This time of the year is a little controversial for planting. But the early summer/late summertime can also be somewhat considerable for the bulb’s growth. That is due to the mild weather and good amount of sunlight at the start and end of the summer. 

Choosing and preparing your planting site

The plant’s bulbs originate from hot and dry places such as South Africa and Mediterranean countries. Here are some simple tips for choosing and preparing your soil at planting time.

  • First off, you have to choose a spot where the soil gets a good amount of sunlight every day. This will help them show beautiful colours at bloom time.
  • If you are opting for pots, then choose a medium-sized one for each bulb. So when they expand, they would have enough space to grow without any complications.
  • When potting the bulbs, make sure you spray enough water onto the soil, just enough to make it considerably wet. 
  • If you opt for direct planting, then make sure the soil is watered and soft enough to dig and press during the process. 
  • If your soil is not prepared, then add a good fertiliser to strengthen it. This step will help the flowering plants grow healthier and faster.

How to plant the bulbs step-by-step

Now that you know all about how to choose and prepare the perfect spot for your bulbs, let’s get onto the planting part. Here is a list of simple and easy-to-follow steps for you to grow your gladiolas without a hassle

Gladioli bulbs ready to plant in the garden

  1. First off, if you want to ensure the growth of taller varieties, then make sure to choose bigger bulbs. They will automatically grow up into big, tall flowers
  2. Use a stake or garden tool to dig up holes into the soft soil. They should be at least 10 cm deep so that there is enough space for you to set the corm inside.
  3. Now, set the bulb into the hole with the pointed side facing upwards. It will allow the stems to grow in the right direction easily
  4. Cover the hole with soil and press firmly to make sure it is tightly packed. It will prevent the bulb/corm from getting damaged.
  5. Add high-quality mulch to the soil and pack it in place. The mulch will help absorb enough amount of water to keep the plant healthy. It will also make the soil richer, which is ultimately beneficial for the plant. 
  6. Dig the next hole at least 15 cm apart from the first one. This will allow each bulb/corm to have enough space while they grow and expand over time. 
  7. If you are growing corms to cut flowers in the future, make sure you plant them in rows. It will allow you to have an easier tending and harvesting experience. But if you are planting them with other flowers like tulips, roses or dahlias, then put them in groups of 7 or more. Keeping an eye on the flower arrangement is important as it affects the growth of the bulbs.
  8. Lastly, when you are done planting, water the soil thoroughly. A good amount of water is essential for the plants to grow properly. 

Little girl holding gladioli flower bouquet

How to care for your gladiolus 

With the soil preparation and planting process on the side, it’s finally time to talk about the care process. Here is how you can take care of your gladiolus varieties.

General Care

Follow these simple tips for general care of your gladiolus flower or bulbs:

  • Add a thick layer of mulch to the soil to prevent the growth of weeds.
  • If you don’t get much rain in your area, then make sure to water your plant every day. 
  • Remove any dead flowers for continuous bloom and healthy flower growth. When all of the flowers on the stalk are gone, cut it off to nearly 5 cm from the soil. It will allow the plant to grow healthy flower spikes.
  • Remind yourself to keep the plant intact, so it can regrow and bloom new, gorgeous-looking flowers.

Winter Protection

Winter is believed to be the worst season for your plants. The danger of frost and the cold, harsh weather has proven unsuitable for the plant. So if you do live in an area where you experience snowfall or extreme cold, it is suggested that you don’t plant gladiolus. But if you do, here are some easy protection tips:

  • It is preferred that you lay down a thick layer of hay or straw to protect the bulb or flower. It will keep it warm, safe and frost-free.
  • Dig up the gladioli corms after the foliage has faded. It usually happens after the first frost. Don’t forget to dig up and store the flower bulb before the hard freeze, or it can fatally damage it.

Harvest (for bouquets)

If you want to turn your gladiolus flowers into bouquets, then follow these easy steps:

Woman's hands is holding a basket full of gladioli

  • Cut the flower stalks off at night or in the morning, never in the daytime. The heat of the day can damage the stem.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut the stalks off in one go. A blunt edge can damage the stem.
  • Cut off the stem with one or two open flowers. The rest of the flower buds will open after being placed in the vase. 
  • Ensure to cut the stems diagonally and put them in a bucket of lukewarm water to maintain freshness.
  • Put the flower bucket in a cool, dark place for a few hours before putting it in a vase. 
  • Every few days, remove the lower flowers and cut about 2 cm from the base of each flower stem.

Storage

Many experts have suggested not to leave the gladiolus bulbs in the ground. Instead, always dig them out and save them for next year. The storage process may be a little lengthy, but it will keep the knobs from freezing or dying. Here is how you can dig out and store yours:

  • Grab the tip of the whole plant and, with a shovel, dig it out of the ground. Shake the loose soil off (don’t wash them) and discard damaged ones. Cut off the stem 2-3 cm above the bulb. 
  • If you want, you can place the small cormels separately. If you replant these cormels each spring, they will bloom within 2-3 years.
  • If the weather permits, let the bulbs dry in the sun for 1 to 2 days. Remove excess soil and place the bulbs on a wooden pallet or tray. Then cure for two weeks at 27-29°C in a warm, ventilated place. 
  • Spray the bulbs with fungicides to prevent any diseases from spreading on them. After that, place them in a paper bag and shake well. 
  • Store them in paper bags, mesh bags, or old onion bags. Fold or hang the container to allow air to flow between them. 
  • Store them in a low humidity location at 2 to 7°C; preferably, a cool cellar is enough. 

Purple and red gladioli

We hope that this guide helped you get all the right information about bulbs and flowers. With that being said, grab your gardening tools and go out there to start your new gardening journey. You’re going to love them!

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