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by Barb Foster
by Barb Foster


Inspired to nuture, Barb Foster took up gardening over a decade ago. She has a particular passion for this areas hardy perennials.

Barb collects her own seeds, grows seedlings in a greenhouse and has 500 sq ft of growing beds plus numerous perennial flower beds in her Zone 1b garden in Chetwynd, B.C.

Barb writes weekly for the Chetwynd Echo.

August 17, 2008

Bright and colourful the Gladiolus is equal to the task of brightening up the flower bed, or as a lovely cut flower. With sword-like upright green side leaves; the Gladiolus is a tall straight spike presenting several large tubular blooms. The blooms open in succession starting from the bottom of the flower stalk. They can be cut for floral arrangements when just the bottom few blooms begin to open. Gladiolus flowers are available in solid and bi-coloured shades of White, Yellow, Orange, Red, Pink, and Purple.

Growing a great Gladiolus should be an easy task. A native of South Africa, the Gladiolus is a tender perennial in our chilly climate. The bulb-like corm can be lifted in the fall and stored in a frost free, dry, and dark place over winter. Or it can be treated like a annual and new corms can be purchased for planting each spring.

Choose large, tall, plump corms at least 1 inch in diameter; corms smaller than 3/4 inch may fail to bloom. Plant corms with the pointed end up. Gladiolus grow best with full sun, in sandy loam soil with good water drainage. Loosen the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches. Add compost in the spring. Plant Gladiolus corms 6 inches apart, and 4-6 inches deep with the pointed end up. When grown for cut flowers, they can be planted in rows in the vegetable garden. In flower beds plant several in a grouping. Plant lower growing bushy plants around the base, to hide the long stems, keeping the area around the Glads open. Gladiolus can be planted about two weeks before the last expected spring frost. It will take 70 to 90 days from planting until flowering. For a continual harvest of flower spikes, plant a few corms every two weeks until early summer. When the plants are 6 inches high, hill up the soil around the base of the plant to help support the stem. Apply a water-soluble fertilizer 6 inches away from the stems when the plants are 6 inches tall. Apply a second application when the flower spikes start to show colour. Keep the plants weed-free and mulched with a 2 to 4 inch-thick layer of loose mulch. Keep well watered, (at least 1 inch of water per week).

Watch for thrips and mites, and treat as needed.

If you are planning to keep the corms over winter: When cutting the flower stalk, leave at least four leaves on the plant to feed the corm for next year's blooms. In fall before the first frost, dig up the corms for winter storage. Cut the stalk within 1/2 inch of the corm, and let the corms dry for 2-3 weeks in a warm, airy location. Once dried, remove and discard the old corm. Store the large, new corms in mesh bags in a well-ventilated room where temperatures remain from 35 to 50 degrees F. Plant Gladiolus corms again in the spring.

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