B. Rosie Lerner
Purdue Extension


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Gladiolus for Summer Flowers

If you're looking for a versatile cut flower that can be easily grown at home, gladiolus is just the ticket. Gladiolus gets its name from the Latin word "gladius," meaning sword. Indeed, "glads," as they are named for short, do produce their large showy blossoms along a long pointed stalk. It's hard to beat the wide choice of colors that glads offer, including red, pink, yellow, white, purple and lavender.

Each flower spike is made up of several florets, which are lined up in double rows. Taller cultivars will likely need staking to prevent the weight of the flowers from bending or breaking the stems. Plants usually stay in bloom up to two weeks, but, if you stagger your plantings through late spring and early summer, you can have glads in bloom from June through September.

Glad buds will open beginning at the bottom of the spike first. Cut the flower spikes after at least three of the florets have opened. The rest of the florets will open in the next few days as the lower florets fade. The best time to cut glads is in the early morning or late evening, when temperatures are coolest and flower stems are full of water. Leave as much foliage as possible remaining on the plant, so that the corm will receive food reserves for next year.

Gladiolus are grown from bulb-like structures called corms that must be dug up and replanted each year, since they are not usually winter hardy in the Midwest. When foliage begins to turn yellow in fall, dig up the corms and allow to air dry for several days. Then, pack the corms in a box of dry vermiculite or peat moss and store in a cool, dry location.

Many garden supply stores run clearance sales on summer flowering bulbs at this time. You can get some real bargain prices, but keep in mind that it is pretty late in the year for planting. Depending on the cultivar, glads take from 60 to 120 days from planting to produce flowers. But, if the price is right, it may be worth the gamble of hoping for a late frost this autumn.


Writer: B. Rosie Lerner
Editor: Olivia Maddox