By E. VinjeTweet
Summer bulbs are the perfect addition to the flower garden. They combine perfectly with annuals and perennials, offering a uniqueness that completes the scene. Gladiolus with their dramatic swordlike leaves have sturdy flowering stems 1-5 feet tall. The elegant flowers come in ravishing shades of every color. Home gardeners particularly enjoy growing gladiolus for cuttings.
Tip: For best results, take cuttings when at least 3 of the “florets” on the stem have opened. They will continue to open in the vase.
Gladiolas require full sun and regular water during growth and bloom. They should be planted in a sandy soil, rich in organic matter as soon as the soil is warm in the spring. Provide protection from the wind if possible.
How to Plant:
The corms should be set four times deeper in the soil than their height. Large corms should be 6 inches apart, small ones, 4 inches. If you live in a cold winter area, the corms should be dug and stored. When the foliage begins to dry, withhold water. When they are completely dry, dig the bulbs and remove the faded foliage. Store in a paper bag in a cool dry place. Plant again in spring after the soil warms. Place some bone meal or rock phosphate in the planting hole and mix it in to the soil. Top dress the site with organic compost. Once planted, your gladiolus should grow well with little attention.
Insects and Disease:
Gladiolas are susceptible to a number of diseases and are prey to pest insects, as well. To minimize problems, always start with sound corms. Toss any that don’t look right or feel soft or crumbly. Watch for aphids and thrips which suck sap from leaves, stems and flowers. If found, spray with insecticidal soap or other natural pest control. Glads are host to several virus diseases. Symptoms include spindly, stunted growth, yellow foliage and leaves marked with ring spots, and pale or dead areas. There is no cure once plants are infected; pull and destroy.