leave glads out of your garden plans for this summer.
One season of growing them will let you understand why
gladiolus are a top favorite with so many people.
The gladiolus isn’t a
one-purpose flower. Its endless variety of colors can
satisfy any personal taste or color scheme. It’s ideal
for garden planting among other flowers. On the other
hand, it’s just the thing for men who want to grow flowers
only for cutting or bragging about because glads can
be planted in rows in any extra bit of space.
Gladiolus Care Information
If you’re a beginner.
you may become bewildered -trying to decide which varieties
to plant. There are more than 2,000 name varieties-and
more coming each year. Undoubtedly there are more new
varieties of glads introduced each year than of perhaps
any other flower. Nearly 8,000 varieties have been introduced
during the last hundred years. It’s a sight to see the
thousands of acres of them in Texas, Florida, Alabama,
and other southern states, grown to ship to commercial
florists in the northern states during the winter months.
Both for exhibition and
for commercial purposes, gladiolus varieties are classified
into three general types. These are: Exhibition, Large
Decorative, and Small Decorative. The Exhibition type
includes the largest varieties whose size and number
of flowers are the most important features. The Large
Decorative type contains those with size ranging from
3 inches across the smallest flower to 6 and 7 inches
across the largest The Small Decorative type contains
varieties 3 inches across as a maximum and range down
to the tiny miniature gladiolus, some of which are no
more than 1/2 to 3/4 inch across. Other than in size,
these miniatures are very like the larger varieties.
The best plan for the
beginner is to make his selections on the basis of color
from among the show winners of former years.
Buying your bulbs
Most catalogs and seed stores offer gladiolus
bulbs in several sizes. No. 1, large; No. 2, medium;
and No. 3, small all will produce flowers. Anything
smaller than No. 3 will be less than an inch in diameter
and can’t be depended on to bloom. Anything over an
inch in diameter will be almost certain to bloom, and
the bigger the bulb the better the flowers More important
than bulb size is gladiolus’ freedom from disease. Buy
from a reputable nurseryman to be safe. (Gladiolus bulbs
are also called “corms,” which is their correct botanical
classification. Common usage makes it all right for
you to call them bulbs. The corm is a shortened and
thickened section of the stem that appears at the base
of the plant. It is solid and covered with dry husks-really
the bases of old leaves. They’re called tunics. On the
corm are buds for each layer of leaves. Except for production
of new varieties, gladiolus are not cultivated from
seed. They do not come true.)
Soil and sun
Gladiolus require much
the same growing condition as most vegetables and garden
flowers. They’ll do well in almost any part of the United
States. They like lots of sun, and a fertile, well-drained
soil, Although they can be grown successfully in almost
any type of soil, you’ll get best results in sandy loam.
They don’t like to compete with tree and shrub roots,
nor do they grow there best crowded up against a foundation.
If you plant in such places, be sure to supply extra
food and water. To prevent diseases borne in soil, plant
the corms in a new location each year when space permits.
Though in the South the corms may not winterkill, it
does reduce the danger of mixing varieties to plant
them in a new location.
Before planting, dig complete
plant food into the bed, about 4 pounds for each 100
feet of row. Plant food used later in the summer should
be watered in immediately after applying to let it get
to the roots at once. Don’t use raw manure since it
may spread infection if it touches the bulbs.
If you’re willing to spend
money each spring for new bulbs, you won’t have to use
plant food. A large bulb contains enough reserve food
to produce good flowers. Feeding insures that there
will be bulbs large enough to bloom next year.
How to plant
Plant glads as early in
the spring as the soil is fit to work. Set bulbs 6 inches
deep in light soil, 4 inches deep if soil is heavy.
Fill the hole only half full when making the first spring
planting to let bulbs get extra warmth from the sun,
and fill rest of hole after growth starts. Large bulbs
should be about 7 inches apart. The blooming season
can be stretched by making succession plantings, by
planting bulbs of several sizes, and by using varieties
which take different lengths of time to mature.
Care after planting
Start shallow hoeing when
first leaves come through the ground. Glads suffer when
forced to compete with weeds. Eliminate weeds early
in the season. The new corn and the new roots are formed
on top of the old one during the growing season; deep
cultivation too near the roots breaks off the new roots
and slows up growth.
The worst insect enemy
is the gladiolus thrip, a very tiny, black, winged insect
It sucks the juice from the plant, and leaves a silvery
appearance at first and then causing them to turn brown.
Thrips also cause deformed flowers and prevent man,
flower spikes from opening at all.
Thrips on bulbs should
be killed before planting. In the garden, start dusting
or spraying with Fungicide when leaves are six inches
tall. Apply once a week (oftener if rain comes) right
through flowering time.
Water is very important-in
fact, it’s usually the greatest single factor in success
full gladiolus growing. Rain seldom supplies enough
moisture so make sure the bed get an inch of water every
week. Start watering when there are five leaves on the
Cutting the flowers
Cut the flower spikes
ordinarily when only one or two flowers are open. The
rest will open in water indoors. Cut spikes of cleanly
and at a slant. Put the spikes in water at once. Laying
them down for any length of time will make the tips
take on permanent curve.
Leave at least five leaves
on the plant since it must continue growth to mature
the bulbs for next year.
Keep weeds under control
even after the blooming period is over. However, you
can lei up on watering except in very dry weather Thrip
control can also be relaxed unless there is serious
Digging time for the bulbs
depends on the planting date. Lift them, a spading fork
will do, when growth has stopped but before foliage
turns brown, usually 4 to 6 weeks after blooming. In
the North, where corms are tender, dig them before freezing
weather comes. Cut off tops just above the corm, and
store in an open box to let them cure for a month. You
can make your own shallow screen-bottom tray containers
for storing them; the screen allows circulation of air
through the corms. Deep containers like bushel baskets
keep them too hot and confined, and they aren’t recommended.
After the corms have cured, clean them by removing the
dried up roots at the base of the new corm, and break
off the dried old corm. Leave the husks on the new one
unless there is danger of thrip infestation.
The following list of
gladiolus varieties gives the beginner a starting point
and saves a good deal of guesswork. All of the varieties
named are show winners of the past few years and are
now available in sufficient quantities to make them
White-Myrna, Snow Princess
White with red throat-Margaret Beaton
Cream-Leading Lady, Lady Jane, White Gold
Cream and rose-Coronna
Yellow-Golden State, Mrs. Bloomington, Crinklecrearn
Yellow and red-Sir Galahad, Spotlight
Salmon-Glarnis, Picardy, Jeanie, First Lady,
Scarlet-Algonquin, Valeria, Beacon, Blaze
Pink-Big Top, Ethel Cave-Cole
Red-Red Charm, Stoplight
Red-black-Black Opal, Black Panther)
Lavender-Elizabeth the Queen
Purple-King Lear, Purple Supreme
Violet-Abu Hassan, Blue Beauty
Smoky-Oklahoma, High Finance, Tunias Mahomet
Brown velvet-Vagabond Prince