Gladiolus is a Summer flowering plant. It is popular for beautiful ornamental flowers in long stalks. Gladiolus is a perennial flowering plant in USDA zone 8 and above. Although it is mostly grown as annuals in closer zone 7 or below. Each plant blooms only once every year and dies back after flowering. Also, they can’t survive heavy frost. That’s why it is better to dig up the bulbs and replant them next spring, especially in a colder zone. Today we will discuss How to Grow Gladiolus Flowers? If you are interested then keep reading.
Gladiolus flowers can last for more than 15 days with proper care. These flowers are popular as cut flowers. The long blade-like leaves give the plant its unique name-Gladiolus. The term Gladious means sword. There are more than 285 different varieties of gladiolus to choose from and grow. They all came in different color shades, patterns, and Sizes.
These flowers are comfortable in every condition. Therefore you can easily grow them in containers as well as flower beds.
Gladiolus Basic Plant Info
- Name: Gladiolus
- Hardiness: Perennial in USDA zone 8 through 11. You have to replant them every year in zone 7 and below.
- Seasonality: Spring and Summer Flowering plants. The plantation is suitable in the early fall or early spring season.
- Plant Type: Small 2 to 5 feet high Bush with single flower stalk. The plant size varies with different Gladiolus varieties.
- Propagation: Seeds and Bulb Divisions.
- Soil Type: It requires Soft slightly acidic neutral soil with good drainage. Nutrition-rich soil with organic matter is best for gladiolus plants.
- Sunlight: It can survive in part shade to full sun for 6 to 8 hours every day. Direct bright sunlight for a full day is essential for flowering in colder regions.
- Water: These plants require moist soil. They need consistent moisture although they can’t survive soggy or damp soil.
- Fertilizers: All-purpose fertilizer with liquid fertilizer and superphosphate is best for maximum bloom in Gladiolus plants.
- Use: Ornamental plants. Gladiolus is a popular cut flower.
How to Propagate Gladiolus Plants?
Gladiolus plants can propagate through their seeds as well as with bulbs or corms. If you leave the flowers to mature and die on the stalk. Then it will fertilize to produce seedpods. The gladiolus seed pod looks like a small bulb on the flower stalk. it replaces the spent flower and is quite easy to identify.
Almost every gladiolus variety produces seedpods after flowering. Although very few of them can produce viable seeds. The rests are just empty seedpods or pods with immature infertile seeds. Even the mature fertile seed will require 3 or more years to grow and mature. After such long waiting, they can start blooming.
The second and quiet faster method of propagation requires the gladiolus bulbs. You can buy those bulbs from a local seed store or any online gladiolus bulb seller. Every mature gladiolus plant develops 5 or more adjacent small bulbs. Its root is the mature big bulb and others are yet to mature. You can separate smaller bubs and procure them for a couple of years in good soil condition until they mature to bloom.
The timing seems the same but trusts me it’s not. Bulbs can save you at least 2 extra years. The trick is to start with a big bulb with a 2-3 inch diameter. Big bulbs can bloom within a year of plantation. Few of them can even bloom in the same year. Also read: How to Grow Petunia Plants? Easy Container Gardening
Gladiolus Propagation Seed Vs Bulbs
- Gladiolus bulbs grow faster than seeds. They can mature in 1 year whereas seeds may take 3 or more years to mature and bloom.
- Every single gladiolus plant can produce 100s of seeds in comparison to just 10-15 bulbs of variable sizes.
- Gladiolus plants grown from bulbs are truly identical to their parents. On the other hand, plants that grow from seeds may vary due to cross-pollination among different varieties.
- Only seed-grown gladiolus plants can bear flowers with new colors and patterns. It is not possible with bulb plantation.
- Apart from timing differences in maturity they also differ in adaptability. Plants grown from gladiolus seeds are more adaptable to varying climatic conditions. They are more adaptable to climate change.
When to Grow Gladiolus?
Gladiolus is a spring to summer flowering plant. Therefore it should be grown at least 100-120 days before the last frost.
It is better to start gladiolus bulbs early in the previous fall. This will allow the corms to mature for more than 4 months before spring. You may not see any visible change in the bulb crown during this period. Though they are busy developing a strong root structure. This root structure will kick start the germination and stalk formation in the spring season.
If you want to grow gladiolus with seed then prepare beforehand. Keep in mind the seed germination rate in gladiolus is pretty low. Even if you manage to germinate a few of them then you have to wait for at least 3 years until it blooms. So start gladiolus seed germination in late summer till fall.
The warm air temperature will help the seed to germinate before winter. Protect the sprouts throughout the winter and take care of them for the next couple of years. It is a pretty slow process so have patience and keep gardening.
Choosing a Perfect Location for Gladiolus Plants?
Always select a bright open garden spot for gladiolus plants. The tall varieties can fit for edges while the smaller ones are good for the frontline. Altogether they need proper sunlight and ample airflow. That’s why I prefer south-facing flower beds, the sideways, and the edge on both sides of the driveway for gladiolus gardening. They look great during the flowering season.
If you are growing gladiolus for cut flowers then plant them in well-spaced rows. Otherwise, diagonal arrangement in the flower bed is also fine for gladiolus plants.
One important consideration for gladiolus is that they can’t sustain soggy soil. Therefore never plant them in low land areas where water can collect during rainy days. It is better to prepare 10 or 15-inch high flower beds for gladiolus. It will keep the blub and roots safe from water even during heavy rainfall.
Can Gladiolus Grow in Containers?
Gladiolus plants can grow well in deep containers. Every variety of gladiolus is container friendly although short varieties are preferable. Use a 10-12 inch container with bottom drainage holes to grow gladiolus. These plants prefer flat-bulb trays better than bucket-type containers.
Always choose 1 zone hardy gladiolus for the container. The condition in a container is not favorable as an open garden. Therefore even hardy gladiolus varieties may find it difficult to grow. It is pretty easy to grow gladiolus in containers despite all difficulties.
Soil Preparation for Gladiolus Plants
Gladiolus plants depend entirely on the comfort and health of their bulbs. The root system is the main part of these plants. Other than the bulb nothing is perennial in this plant. The flower and the leaves die after the season and only the bulb remains in the soil to store nutrition. Therefore soil condition is most important for growing gladiolus bulbs.
Gladiolus plants require soft nutrition-rich soil with good drainage. It should have a natural to slightly acidic ph in the range of 6.0 to 7.5. Keep the soil moist with optimum drainage such that it never becomes soggy. You should use a commercial potting mix with 25-30% compost for container gardening.
If you like to prepare a custom soil mix then I have something for you. You can use 30% clean dry garden soil. Mix it well with an equal amount of compost and dry in full sun for 3 days. Again add 1/4 portion of cocopeat and sand to the soil. At last, it’s time to add fertilizer and booters to the soil mix.
You will need NPK 18:18:18, Superphosphate, Potash, Bonemean, Mustard cake powder, Neem cake powder, Hornmeal, and systemic fungicide. Mix 3 spoon bonemeal with 3 spoon mustard cake powder,1 spoon neem cake powder, and 1 spoon NPK to each plant. At last, add 1/2 spoon superphosphate and potash on top of the soil mix. Till turn and mix everything well before planting the bulbs.
Gardening Tip: For Bet result moisten the soil mix and let it dry in shade for two days before planting gladiolus bulbs. Use fungicide with the water.
Sunlight and Water Requirements
Gladiolus is a warm-season flower, hence sunlight is an important factor. These plants can grow well in part shade although they require a minimum of 6 hours of bright light for blooming. More the light better it will bloom.
The container should be placed near a window where they can receive maximum sunlight throughout the day. Proper sunlight is essential to maintain ambient temperature for these plants. They need at least 55to 70 degrees Fahrenheit or 20-27 degrees celsius to bloom. Gladiolus plants can’t grow well at temperatures lower than 15 degrees C or 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Regular watering is also very important to keep the plant fresh and blooms healthy. Gladiolus plants prefer consistently moist soil, especially during the flowering season. therefore water these plants every alternate day or soon if required. They can sustain moderate drought although they may lose flowers to survive in such conditions. So keep the soil moist and never over water. gladiolus plants need moist soil but they can’t survive soggy or damp soil for long.
How to germinate Gladiolus seeds?
Gladiolus seeds are not very easy to find. Usually, every horticulturist and flower seller grows them from bulb division. They don’t allow the plants to fertilize and produce seeds. Still, you can ask the seed sellers in your locality for viable gladiolus seed. You will be lucky if they got some. You can also try searching for gladiolus seeds on Amazon.
If you find any viable gladiolus seed then start with the following steps.
- Prepare a flat seedling tray with soil-less growing media.
- Moisten the soil mix properly and then sprinkle the seeds on the soil surface.
- Put a very thin layer of cocopeat on top of the seed just enough to cover it.
- Cover the seedling tray with transparent cellophane or plastic sheet. Place it on top of a heating mat or near a window.
- Allow 4-5 hours of indirect sunlight that should keep the temperature above 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Always keep the soil mix moist and allow proper aeration y removing plastic cover twice or thrice every week.
- Gladiolusseeds will start germinating within 25 days. Although some of them may take up to 3 months. So don’t disturb the soil mix and care for the sprouts.
- It will take another 8-10 months for these sprouts to become gladiolus plants, big enough for transplant.
- Shift them to individual containers and care for them until they mature enough to bloom. These seedlings will take at least 3 years after germination to mature and start blooming.
Gladiolus Variety Selection
It will be unfair to suggest one variety over others. As there are more than 285 varieties of gladiolus to choose from. They all came in different color patterns. You can choose from all shades of red to purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, or even white flowers. Gladiolus varieties with mixed color patterns are also available to grow. One thing to consider is the hardiness of these varieties. Some of them are best fr hotter zones while others are good in cold regions. Few varieties are ideal for borders and garden edges while others are best for flower beds. Therefore you should select a gladiolus variety according to their needs and availability of space.
I have listed a few of my favorite Gladiolus varieties. You can choose one or more of them if you like. Also, suggest any if It deserves to be on this list.
Popular Gladiolus Varieties
- You can Choose the Candyman variety for its beautiful pink flowers.
- Carine gladiolus is a trumpet-shaped white flower with a purple or pink center.
- Prins Claus is another white Galdiouls with a splash of pink on its petals.
- Abyssinian Sword Lily is a white star-shaped flower with a beautiful dark-purple center. It is hardy in USDA zone 7 through 11.
- Black star is one of the tallest 5 feet gladiolus variety with dark purple-red blooms. They are ideal for USDA zone 7 through 9.
- Dream’s End is a 3 feet tall yellow-orange Gladiolus Variety. It is hardy in Zone 8 and above.
- Alaska is a 4 feet tall gladiolus variety ideal for zone 8 through 11.
- Glamini Glad is a perfect short gladiolus variety for container and front row gardening. They are ideal for Zone 7 through 10 and can grow well in part shade. This variety has high pest resistance.
- Claudia is a short variety with only 2 feet in height and beautiful red bloom. They are hardy in USDA zone 5 through 11.
- The green star is a beautiful green flower with a maximum of 4 feet of plant height. It is ideal for zone 7 through 10.
- Flora is a purple flower on 5 feet high plant best for zone 3 through 10.
- Passos is a beautiful purple flower with a red center and violet edges. they can grow up to 4 feet tall and hardy in zone 3 through 10.
- Yellowstone is a bright yellow midsummer flowering variety ideal for USDA zone 2 through 10.
Other Popular Gladiolus varieties include Applause, Baccara, Blue Monn, Charm, Elvira, Impressive, Nathalie, Scarlet red, prime gloom, Merdone, Purple remedy, and many more. How to Grow Sampaguita Flowers- Jasminum Sambac
How to Plant Gladiolus Bulbs?
There are two different methods to plant a Gladiolus blub. You can either plant it directly in the growing area or start the sprout and then plant it.
Both of these methods are fine. They only differ in the final success rate of the gladiolus plants. Pre-sprouting the mature blubs can indicate the viability and the quality of the bulbs. Good quality healthy bulbs will sprout before others. In this way, you can sort the best among all. Direct bulbs sowing does not allow to test for viability and quality of bulbs.
- You can start pre-sprouting the Gladiolus bulbs in clean damp sand. It will take a maximum of 25 days to develop initial roots.
- Leave the bulbs in the sand for 15-20 extra days. They will start sprouting by this time.
- The first sign of crowning or leaf formation indicates the time of transplantation.
- Prepare the garden bed or container soil for the plantation.
- Make Hole twice as big as the germinated gladiolus bulbs. It should be big enough to accommodate the bulb along with the entire root structure.
- Carefully take out the sprouted bulbs from damp soil. Try not to disturb and damage the root structure. Watering the sand can help in the general transplantation of these bulbs.
- Place the bulbs in the center of the hole and fill the remaining space with soil mix. Add a 2-3 inch layer of compost or light organic mulch. It controls excessive evaporation and minimizes weed growth.
- Water thoroughly to dampen the soil at least 8-10 inches deep. Deep watering will help the roots to destabilize quickly.
- Regularly water these bulbs for the next 10 days and never let the soil dry. After 10 days reduce the watering and maintain the long gaps. This will allow better root development.
- From now on keep the soil moist but never soggy. Also, feed the bulbs with phosphorus-rich fertilizer twice every month. Use liquid fertilizer once in 20 days. Use Superphosphate to boost the flower quality.
Tips to Grow Gladiolus in Container
- Always prefer short gladiolus varieties for container gardening.
- Use a wide 10-12 inch container with a minimum of 8-inch depth. Bigger containers are better for gladiolus plants.
- Use healthy soft well drains nutritious soil for container gardening.
- Grow only 1 bulb or Gladiolus plant in an 8-inch container. 10-12 inch container can occupy at most 3 plants but prefer only 1 for better bloom.
- Choose at least 1 zone hardy gladiolus variety for container gardening. It will ensure plant survival even in small containers.
- Deepwater the gladiolus plants in containers. Let the water drip out from the base and leave the soil to dry before the next spell.
- Add extra compost and cocopeat to the potting soil. It will increase water retention in the container.
- Use bonemeal, mustard cake powder, neem cake powder, and seaweed extract instead of chemical fertilizers as they slowly release nutrients for a longer duration. Chemical fertilizers can easily wash off during each subsequent watering cycle.
- Install stakes in a container to prevent flower stalks from falling. It is better to be done during plantation.
How to Grow Gladiolus Flowers in Garden Beds?
- Prepare a minimum 8-inch high flower bed for gladiolus plants.
- Add at least a 3-inch layer of aged manure or compost on top of the flower bed.
- Rake the soil to mix the compost properly. Let it dry and aerate for 3 to 5 days in full sun. There is no need o water the bed during this time.
- Add 500-700 grams or 3 pounds of NPK 20:20:20 with 1 pound of superphosphate in 10*6 feet area (60sqft).
- Rake the soil properly and water it thoroughly. Again leave the bed to dry for 1 week.
- At last, add 4-6 pounds or 1.5 kilograms of Bone meal fertilizer to the soil. Miz everything well and dig up holes for the plants.
- maintain 8-10 inch distance between each bulb. It is better to keep them at least 12 inches apart for healthy blooming.
- Place the bulbs in the holes and cover them properly with the soil mix. Keep the crown up else it may not sprout.
- Water properly and abundantly to dampen the soil up to 10 inches deep.
- Adjust the watering schedule with the drainage of the soil mix. Wait for the topsoil to dry before the next spell. Never overwater the gladiolus bulbs.
- Feed these bulbs with All-purpose liquid fertilizer and seaweed extract once a month.
- Keep the soil moist and feed the gladiolus plants properly for the best bloom in the season.