Growing Flower Bulbs: Gladioli
It is necessary to lift the corms of gladioli every year and store them dry for the winter as they are slightly tender. The early-flowering or nanus varieties may only be grown in a frostproofunless they are planted out in very mild districts and these are dealt with in chapter 10.
The summer-flowering gladioli may be divided into four distinct groups. First come the large-flowered types which flower from July into September and reach a height of up to 4 ft. There are a great many varieties in a wide range of colours. The butterfly gladioli flower at the same time and reach a similar height as the large-flowered types. However, the flowers are smaller and they have distinctive attractive throat markings and blotches, giving the appearance of exotic.
Miniature gladioli are shorter, about 2 to 2-½ ft. tall, often with crinkled edges to the flowers which add to their charm. Primulinus gladioli are 2 to 4 ft. high with more or less hooded flowers set more widely in a slender spike.
Summer-flowering gladioli look lovely in any position and they are ideal for growing in clumps in the border or among shrubs. If they are needed for cutting, they are best planted in the kitchen garden. They give good results when planted in fairly sheltered positions and where they are not exposed to strong winds.
Early soil preparation is advisable so that it is well settled before planting. Plant the corms 4 in. deep from March onwards, the exact time depending on the district, soil and weather conditions. Allow 5 to 6 in. between the corms and except where required entirely for cutting, when they should be planted in rows, clumps or groups of three or more are most effective. A little sand or old ashes placed above and below the corms will keep them from rotting.
A feed in June or July of a good compoundwill often prove beneficial. While the miniature and primulinus gladioli may not need staking, support may be needed by the taller varieties. Exhibitors always stake in order to ensure that the flower stems develop in a really upright position.
After gladioli have flowered and their foliage has died down, they should be lifted and the new developing corms stored in a dry frostproof place until the following spring.