Glad for Gladioli

I’ve always loved Gladdies. Such theatrical flowers on dramatic tall spikes which shoot up from relatively small corms and with so few roots it’s a wonder they stand up at all. They are also neat and slim, taking up very little room in the garden which makes them good value plants in my book.

So this year, in the cutting garden, I planted 30 corms in just one square metre, 6 rows of 5 corms each. I bought them as a bag of mixed colours for £2.99 which, as it turned out, was incredibly good value.

As usual with these things, opinions vary wildly on the best way to grow them but I decided to follow Trevor Fawcett’s advice in Garden News and planted them in a raised bed with well drained, humus rich soil and a little added bonemeal. The other tip I rather liked was to plant the corms about 4″ deep but on a layer of sharp sand and then also cover them with sharp sand before backfilling with soil. This improves drainage around the corm but also makes the corm come out clean when you lift them in autumn.

All the corms grew but some grew quicker than others which staggered the flowering period nicely. Instead of individual canes to support them, I put canes around the edge and weaved string across in both directions at 12 and 24 inches high which made 30 individual 6″ square pockets to support the weighty flower spikes.

In August, I was so pleased with some of them that I entered the best ones in our local Horticultural Show and won second prize for the three best stems!

Last week I cut down the remaining foliage and lifted the corms. They did indeed come up easily and cleanly and only needed a shake to loosen all the soil from the corms. I cut off the roots and literally hundreds of baby cormlets which would, eventually, grow into corms if grown on. However, I decided that life was too short and as the flowering size corms are so inexpensive I will simply buy more if I need them. The new corms, which have grown on top of the old corms, are three times bigger so I am expecting bigger and better flowers next year with all that additional goodness.

They are now upside down in a mushroom tray lined with newspaper in a warm room for 3 weeks and when they are completely dry I will pull away the foliage and break off the old corm which should apparently both come away easily and cleanly, and then the corms will go into a paper bag filled with shredded paper and stay in a frost free place, probably in the garage, until late spring when the cycle will begin again. I am hooked on these simple, reliable and showy flowers so I will be looking out for some different colours and types to see if I can win that elusive first prize at next year’s show!

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