Planting Bulbs - Gladiolus aka Glads (with video)

ProPlugger Co - Tuesday, November 13, 2012

gladioulusGladiolus, or Glads as they are often referred to, add greatly to the summer garden with their tall spikes of flowers that come in every color imaginable. They're also the king of the cut flower world. You can put together a nice arrangement of glads in a vase with no prior flower arranging experience!

Gladiolus, like baseball players, are the boys of summer. They bloom well over the summer but won't survive the winters in areas where the ground freezes. Thus, they will need to be dug up and stored in a cool, dry place over the winter.

The genus Gladiolus comprises 260 species, 250 of which are native to sub-Saharan Africa. The name gladiolus comes from the Latin word for sword, because of their sword-shaped leaves, hence the nickname, sword lily. In the center of these make-believe swords arise the flower stems, packed full of beautiful flowers.

How to Plant Gladiolus

Planting Bulbs From a Standing Position

Planting Larger Bulbs

when to plant glads

When to Plant Gladiolus

Plant gladiolus corms (botanically speaking they're corms, not bulbs) in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked up. They are long lived flowers and to make the best of their blooming cycle, it's best to stagger the planting over a few weeks to ensure a long summer filled with their delicate colors.

Where to Plant Gladiolus

Plant glads in full sun, especially in the northern states where the summers are cooler. Glads can be grown in light shade in the southern locations of the country. They prefer loamy soil so if you have compacted or clay soils, you'll want to amend with compost-rich organic material. Your glads will love you for it!

bulb planterPlanting Depth for Gladiolus Corms

Gladiolus corms are planted at a depth of three to six inches. For larger corms, plant at the deeper end of that range. The tips of the corm should be pointed upward.

Spacing of Gladiolus Corms

Glads should be spaced 3-6 inches apart. Some enthusiast plant glads in rows about two feet apart for the effect of their beauty.

Bulb Planting Tools

Most bulb planting tools require a lot of bending over or getting down on our knees. For easier planting (most of which can be done from a standing position) rely on the ProPlugger 5-IN-1 Planting Tool. Simply push the ProPlugger into the ground with your foot, letting gravity and your body weight do most of the work. The depth rings provided with the ProPlugger (shown above right), help you gauge the planting depth you need for each bulb variety you plant. Pull up on the tool to remove a plug of soil. Tap the tool to release the plug next to the hole you've created. Place the bulb in the hole, pointed tip facing upward. Fill in the hole with the soil you removed with the 5-IN-1. Firm the soil over the bulb with your foot.

Feeding and Fertilizing Gladiolus

When the leaf tips begin to poke out of the ground, apply a 5-10-10 fertilizer. About the time of flowering, top dress with a 0-0-10 or 0-0-50 fertilizer.  Mulching around the plants with aged compost or well rotted manure will achieve the same effect as a light feeding of fertilizer.

Tips for Storing Gladiolus Corms

Sometime after the first frost in the fall, but before the ground freezes, dig up your glads and examine the corms. Discard the original corm and keep the larger corms that have grown over the summer. They will be located just above the original corm. Cull out the largest of the corms, which should be about 1-2 inches in diameter. Allow the corms to dry out for a few days in temperatures hovering around 65ºF then place them in a cool (35º-45º F), dark, airy room or cellar. They store best on an open rack where air can circulate freely between the corms.

Disease & Pest Issues Affecting Gladiolus

Glads are pretty much problem-free providing you’ve purchased quality bulbs and are planting in nutrient-rich soil that drains well.

Neil Moran is a horticulturist and author of three books on gardening. He is also the creator and author of the garden blog North Country Gardening.

Be sure to check out the helpful information on our website, including other uses for the ProPlugger including:

  1. Lawn Plugger
  2. Bedding (and Annual Flower) Planter
  3. Weeding Tool
  4. Ground Cover Planter
  5. Soil Sampling Tool

Additional Resources:

North American Gladiolus Council

University of Minnesota Extension Service - Gladiolus

Find Your Hardiness Zone by Zip Code