I learned something new recently: “When cutting gladiolus, it is always best to remove the top bud, which often results in more flowers in the stem opening to their full potential.”
So says head gardener Tom Brown of Parham House and Gardens in Sussex. Here’s some other helpful advice he offered in an excellent article in the July 2018 Gardens Illustrated.
“Gladiolus are relatively easy to grow,” Brown writes, “and as the corms are so inexpensive you can afford to use them as annuals, meaning you can experiment with different colors and styles from one year to the next.”
If you don’t want to buy new ones every year, they can also be dug and stored or – depending on your hardiness zone – “mulched heavily in sheltered, free-draining areas” To try that, cut the stalks down after frost, “cover the clump with a plastic bin liner [storage tub] to keep the corms dry, and mulch liberally with compost.”
Although Brown notes that many sources recommend planting glads earlier, he prefers “waiting until at least May” – again depending on your hardiness zone – “when the soil has warmed and the chance of frosts faded.” For a longer bloom season, he recommends “staggering your planting through May and June at fortnightly intervals.”
If you’re growing them for cutting, “you should be able to squeeze 60 to 100 corms into a square meter” which means planting them roughly four inches apart. To grow them intermingled with other flowers, Brown removes “a spade’s width and depth of soil” and then sets “five to seven corms at the base of the hole.”
Brown says that planting corms about ten inches deep gives them “consistent moisture and temperature so the flowers need less staking.” Smaller glads like ‘Atom’, ‘Starface’, and the Abyssinian glad often need no staking, while full-size glads “simply need four stakes in the corners of the clump and then string around the perimeter and a few pieces in between.”
Now doesn’t that sound easy? To give these tips a try and “indulge your garden and your vases with bold and beautiful spikes,” why not order a few glads now for April delivery?