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What are Gladioli?

By L. Hepfer
Updated May 17, 2024
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Gladioli, the plural of gladiolus are grown from bulb-like structures called corms that are planted in the ground in early spring and bloom throughout most of July and August. This very easy to grow flower grows to be quite tall, anywhere from 2-5 feet (.61-1.52 meters). Gladioli come in every shade imaginable from white to black and produce a stalk-like stem that grows large blossoms of flowers in spikes.

The blossoms of these flowers are graceful and trumpet-like, while the petals can be frilled, ruffled or waved. They work well in any flower garden with various flowering perennials. It is usually easier to care for them when they are grown in groups or neat rows. This makes pulling weeds and caring for the plant much easier than if they were planted sporadically throughout the garden.

Depending on the area in which you live, the corms may need to be dug up before winter every year and stored until the following spring. Areas that have much colder winters require a little more maintenance in caring for the corms to make sure they stay healthy throughout the winter. Planting various sizes of corms yields various sizes and colors of gladioli, resulting in more variety to the flower garden.

When shopping for the corms, it is essential to find healthy ones. Healthy and better quality corms result in much fuller blooms and better gladioli. High centers and plumpness are two things to look for when shopping for corms. Thin or flat corms should be avoided because they will not yield good flowers.

Gladioli work great and last long when cut and placed in fresh flower arrangements. They grow the brightest and are very sturdy when grown in full sunlight. Planting them in full sunlight will help the plant store more energy for growing the following year. Gladioli prefer well-drained soil with added fertilizer, and they will come up year after year on their own if prepared properly in the beginning.

When planting the corms, protection from the wind should be considered greatly. Strong winds can damage gladioli and knock them over. If gladioli are grown in clumps, stakes can be planted to help support them.

Gladioli can have problems with various diseases and pests. Soft corms, yellowing of the plant or stunted growth are all signs of disease. Plants showing any sign of disease should be discarded immediately to avoid infestation of the other plants. Thrips are tiny insects that feast on the flowering part of the plant while it is still in the bud. Corms can be sprayed and treated before storing for winter each year to avoid infestations.

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