By: Liz Baessler
Gladiolus is a wildly popular flowering plant that often makes its way into floral arrangements. As well as bouquets, gladiolus looks amazing in flower beds and along garden borders. But what are some good companion plants for gladiolus? Keep reading to learn more about plants that grow well with gladiolus.
Perhaps the best companion plants for gladiolus are, believe it or not, more gladiolus plants. Gladiolus is not a cut and come again flower. Instead, it grows its flowers from the bottom up along long leafy spears. When it’s used for flower arrangements, these spears are usually cut off whole.
In order to have a full summer’s worth of blossoms, it’s best to plant your gladiolus bulbs (also known as corms) in succession. Starting a few weeks before your area’s average last frost, plant a new bunch of gladiolus bulbs every two weeks. Keep this up until midsummer. This way, you’ll have new plants growing and new flowers blooming all the way through the summer and into the fall.
Unfortunately, gladiolus plants don’t have any particular benefits for their neighbors the way that some flowering plants do. They can, however, be planted with other bright flowering plants to make for a truly spectacular splash of color in the garden.
Some good flowering companion plants for gladiolus include zinnias and dahlias. Gladiolus plants like sun and well drained, sandy soil, and plants that grow well with gladiolus need the same kind of soil conditions. Really, basically any plants sharing the same requirements will work.
Gladiolus plants also make a great and colorful border around vegetable gardens. As long as your garden (or at least the area around it) has sandy, well-draining soil and receives full sun exposure, your plants should be happy.
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Read more about Gladiolas
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If your previous exposure to gladiolus plants consists of a few stalks leaning this way and that in the flower garden, give this summer bulb, technically called a corm, a second chance. A mass of two dozen or more gladioli in bloom creates a garden spectacle of spiky blossoms, with some left over for your floral arrangements.
A member of the Iridaceae family, plants in the genus Gladiolus also go by the name flag flower and sword lily. Fast-growing gladiolus plants are a smart choice for gardens where space is a premium they grow to from 2-5 feet tall, adding drama to the border.
|Botanical Name||Gladiolus palustris|
|Plant Type||Corm, or bulbotumer|
|Mature Size||2-5 feet|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Soil Type||Sandy loam|
|Bloom Time||June through frost|
|Flower Color||Red, pink, yellow, purple, green, orange, and white|
|Hardiness Zones||7-10 (USDA)|
|Native Area||South Africa and Europe|
|Toxicity||Toxic to humans, livestock, and pets|
Gladiolus, planting, fertilizing and Winter storage
Gladiolus are one of those flowers that have been around for ever years. They are often seen as part of flower arrangements, and make quite glamorous displays by themselves in tall trumpet-shaped vases.
Gladiolus come in just about every color except a true blue or jet black, so there are colors that fit everyone’s taste, or interior decorating scheme.
Gladiolus corms for Spring planting are available at garden centers, big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s, discount stores like Wal-Mart and K-Mart, supermarkets and through mail order catalogs. Gladiolus as cut flowers can be found for purchase year-round at florist stores and supermarkets, as well as farm stands seasonally (mid to late summer). They often come in bunches of 12 stems.
Gladiolus are easy to grow in my home garden and don’t take up much planting space.
Planting Gladiolus ..In upstate New York where I live (USA zone 5-4) I plant gladiolus corms on or right after May 1 in my vegetable garden. Do to the fact that I like to bring them into the house when they are just starting to bloom, I don’t plant mine as a focal point in the flower garden, but in a more utilitarian way. I have an area along the back side of the vegetable patch, where I grow cucumbers, that I yearly plant gladiolus.
Each year to boost the organic quality of my vegetable garden’s soil, I work a few bags of dehydrated cow manure into the ground to amend (improve) it, and broadcast a couple of hands full of Jonathan Green 5-10-5 across the planting area, which is also turned in.
Across the back side of the vegetable patch, I plant three or four long rows of gladiolus. The glads are perfect as a companion plant to the cucumbers, because they grow tall and tower above the cucumbers that grow in front of them at their feet. Both plants happily collect sun light (photosynthesis) and produce well.
When planting gladiolus, pick out a location that gets full sun (six plus hours of direct sunlight daily) and has well-drained soil. Put them in the ground so they are pointed side up with one or two inches of soil covering the corm. Space them 8 inches apart, with 8 inches between rows. Alternate the spacing between rows so the gladiolus planted in the middle row are planted in-between the gladiolus planted in the first and third rows (see illustration). Before planting, lay the glad corms out on the ground in your garden as you think you want them to be spaced. Adjust your arrangement before digging any planting holes if needed.
I have complete access to all 4 sides of my vegetable patch, so from the back side I can easily reach in and cut gladiolus for flower arrangements. If you cut glads to bring inside, cut them long-stemmed, but don’t cut the plant off at ground level. The plant needs its leaves to collect light for the remainder of the growing season, which feeds the corm.
I plant all my corms at once, but you could space out your gladiolus corm plantings by a week or two, so you have an extended period of bloom time.
If you are growing your glads and plan to leave them outside to enjoy in the garden, versus bring inside, you will have to stake them to keep the plants heavy flower from knocking the plant to the ground. Right before you see any buds unfurl, insert a bamboo stick (available at garden centers everywhere) into the ground, about an inch and one half to two inches away from the glad’s stem. You don’t want to pierce the corm. Loosely tie a small piece of jute around the head and to the stake to secure.
Winter Storage of Gladiolus Corms ..Gladiolus corms should be dug up and stored for Winter in areas where the temperatures go below 32 degrees fahrenheit, and the ground freezes solid. Never dig up gladiolus corms until / before they have been hit by a hard killing frost which darkens the plants sword shaped leaves and stops light collecting (photosynthesis). The growing season for glads and most other tender plants ends when temperatures go below 28 degrees fahrenheit. After they have been killed by a frost, let the glads stay in the ground for 3 or 4 days to a week before lifting. When dug, break the dead tops away from the fleshy corm and wash off excess dirt with a hose. Let the corms dry outside on the lawn for one day, then store inside in a dark room or cellar that stays 40 to 50 degrees farenheit. I store my gladiolus corms in two large shallow bowls that I use as bird baths and tops of cardboard boxes, stacking the corms no more than two layers high. I keep them uncovered so there is no moisture buildup, which could cause mold and possible rot. Gladiolus corms could also be stored in old onion bags or bags that clementines come in, then hung up from a rafter so there is air movement around the corms.
After one growing season, a gladiolus corms might divide and grow another full-sized second corm along side of it, or you might see many babies at its base. I usually divide the two large corms and save some babies for replanting, so each year my collection of plantable gladiolus corms increases.
Winters must be getting warmer here because each year at gladiolus planting time, I see one or two that I’ve missed that are emerging out of the ground to start the growing season again. I hope this post showed you how easy planting some gladiolus is. So, my words for you are Go out, buy some glad corms, and plant them ->
Gladiolus is a classic perennial known for its tall flower spikes and large, colorful blooms. Great cutting flowers, gladioli look spectacular in summer bouquets. Here’s how to grow gladioli in your garden.
Commonly called “glads,” these lovely flowering plants are available in a multitude of colors and typically reach between 2 and 5 feet in height. Their blooms also range in size—from “miniature” flowers less than 3 inches in diameter, to “giant” flowers greater than 5 inches across!
The taller varieties, which need to be staked, are often placed in the back of a garden to nicely complement shorter plants.
Note: In Zone 7 and colder, gladioli corms will likely need to be dug up in the fall, stored, and replanted the following spring. Find your planting zone here and see instructions for this process below.
Winter Protection for Gladiolus
In colder regions (Zone 7 or colder), dig up gladioli corms once the foliage has faded after the first fall frost. A light frost will kill the foliage, but not the rest of plant. Be sure to dig up the gladiolus corms before a hard freeze (28°F), or the plants could be fatally damaged.
Learn more tips for storing gladiolus through the winter.
This South African native flower is also known as the sword lily. It’s in the iris family and gardeners have been breeding and growing it for hundreds of years. It’s the birth flower of August and said to symbolize infatuation. Have you guessed it yet? It’s the gladiolus.
I have to admit, when I say gladiolus I normally think of funeral flowers. But that’s actually a compliment to this colorful bulb. Gladiolus makes excellent cut flowers and the stems are so showy you really feel like you’re getting your money’s worth when you grow them. While most gardeners are familiar with the large and colorful flowered hybrids, there are many heirloom and species types that have smaller, more delicate stalks and are tougher plants. The ‘Nana’ gladiolus have 2 foot tall flower stalks and small, orchid-like flowers. ‘Atom’ gladiolus grows less than 3 feet tall with bright red, fringed in white, flowers. And the heirloom ‘Abyssinian Glad’ features small white flowers with a purple throat and a sweet fragrance.
Whether you’re growing one of the hundreds of hybrids or experimenting with some of these smaller species types, you grow gladiolus the same way. Glads like a well drained soil in full sun. They grow from corms planted in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Since they’re often used as a cut flower, plant in rows so you can care for them easier. Keep well watered and spray neem oil to control thrips insects that can attack the flowers. Consider staking or supporting tall varieties to keep the flower stalks straight. When about three blossoms are open on the stalk, cut it at the base and bring it indoors to let the rest of the flowers open. In fall dig and store the corms indoors.
Now for this week’s tip, in shady areas consider planting colorful foliage annuals such as coleus, perilla, and alternanthera. These add brightness to dark corners without relying on flowers.
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Keep the container in a room with bright indirect light and watch the roots form. Add water as needed to maintain the level exactly where the root zone is forming. Over time, you will see leaves and stems. Move the plant to a lighter area, where temperatures are at least 18°C (65 degrees Fahrenheit). Rotate the vase so that the stems grow straight and do not lean towards the sun. Most bulbs will bloom within 2 to 3 weeks after the cooling period.
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