With their tall, spiky, green stems and funnel shaped flowers which burst into beautiful blooms in a myriad of colours, gorgeous Gladioli are definitely the glamour queens of the late summer, early autumn garden! You plant corms, which look like bulbs, around April time and without much other care than watering, an occasional feed and a sunny position, up pop these beauties!
Gladioli grow from a corm which looks like a bulb but is rounder and flatter in appearance. When corms become exhausted, they use energy from the growing leaves and stem to create a new corm and this makes them a very self-sufficient plant to have in the garden.
Plant the corm quite deeply, around 8ins (15cm) to ensure that the stem which will grow between 3ft-4ft (90-120cm) tall has good support at the base. Depending on where you plant them in the garden, they may need some staking to keep those blooms proud! I often grow them in pots outside our patio doors and allow them to lean up against the window for support – it also means I see them in all their glory from inside the house too!
The blooms on gladioli open from the bottom up which make them very unusual in form. This also means that the blooms fade at the bottom first so just pull or snip them off as the upper blooms emerge to keep them looking good for as long as possible. Generally each stem can be in flower for around 10 weeks if they don’t fall over and are given enough water when in bloom which makes them great value for money. I’ve had them in bloom in the garden this year from the end of August right up until the beginning of November and by staggering the planting of the corms, you can extend the flowering period.
Gladioli also make a great, glamorous cut flowers for the house if you have tall enough vases and one of the best places to see individual varieties is at a Flower Show where you see them in full bloom which can help you decide on a colour variety. These ones were on show at the Dundee Flower Show this year and were pretty spectacular.
Gladioli are most certainly a flower to think about planting in the garden for next year either to cut for the house or to enjoy in a pot or in the border.