It's crazy to believe that we're already over half way through July, and here at B.Blumen Flower Farm we've been harvesting our Glads every day starting in April and plan to keep on doing so until early November. How is that possible? Well in this article I'll give you everything I know about when and how to plant Glads as well as the decisions you have to make along the way!
Like everything we have to start at the beginning, it's so very very important that when you get that first beautiful shipment of Gladiolus corms (bulbs) you keep them in a dry, dark and cool place. For us at the farm that's a back corner of the farm shed that we keep at 60 degrees. The reasoning for this is that sun and warmth can spur the corms into sprouting in the box (crazy I know) which isn't necessarily the end all be all assuming you get them in the ground shortly after sprouting but you don't want them trying to grow there, and keeping them dry is simply because otherwise they'll rot.
Next is soil preparation, Gladiolus is a relatively easy crop to grow when it comes to soil prep. They can be planted in the ground or in a pot as long as they have about 6" of root space depth and a reasonably balanced soil. Another thing to keep in mind is that Glads do not appreciate what we farmers call "wet feet" this simply means that they don't want to sit in any kind of water for an extended period of time. They need to be planted in a well draining area. Once these factors are assessed, and about 2 weeks before your last frost date, you can go ahead and plant the corms! Make sure that they're planted right side up (pointy end up) and between 2"- 6" deep depending on the size of the corm with a spacing of 4" between corms.
So now you have your first batch of bulbs planted! It'll take them 70-90 days to flower and unfortunately all of the bulbs that you planted in this batch are going to bloom within 2 weeks of each other meaning that you'll be left with a pretty yet unproductive batch of greenery once their done. So how do you keep the blooms coming?? This is where succession planting comes in. To keep your gladiolus constantly blooming you need to add corms to your garden every 2 weeks. This will stagger your bloom time and once your first batch starts, like a domino effect your planting from months before will keep you harvesting all season!
The last question is to pull or not to pull the corms out of the ground. First of all I would never recommend harvesting your bulbs out of the ground while the foliage is still green. You need to give the plant a few months after flowering to continue to grow next years corms as well as baby corm-lets that will keep you from ever having to buy new bulbs every year. You'll know it's time to harvest your bulb when the foliage of the plant has gone brown and dry generally this happens after the first frost of the season, at this time you can carefully dig your bulbs out of the ground, let them dry and store them in a cool dark place until it's time to put them out again. You also have the choice to not dig them at all and allow them to overwinter in your garden (only an option in certain zones) at which point you'll have the earliest flowering gladiolus of the next year with the only drawback being that they're no longer succession planted and will come up at the same time. At our farm we leave a bed of Gladiolus in the ground to be our early blooms and then pull the rest and store them to use for the next years succession planting.
Let me know if you enjoyed this article by leaving a comment below, and I'd love to hear your ideas for things you'd like to hear more about when it comes to flower farming or farming in general!