Updated: Jun 19, 2018
When my parents got married back in the 50’s my mother was carrying a bunch of Gladioli. I never did ask her about them but I now wish I had. The only photographs I have of the occasion are black and white so I don’t even know what colour they were, however as a child I remember there were always lots of red Gladioli in the garden, they were her favourites. At the time my grandparents owned an old farmhouse which they grew lots of fruit and vegetables in and with my vivid imagination I can see the small cut flower patch to one side – brimming with Gladioli for the big wedding day.
Now as I think I have mentioned in previous blogs I do have rather an aversion to the colour red. I really can not hide it, and anyone who knows me knows that I do not own a single red item at all. I am not sure how mother and daughter can be so different in their choice of colors and much to my disgust she even insisted in buying me a red car when I passed my driving test. Argue I did not, as the money was coming from her purse and I was extremely grateful. Its is the only thing which I have ever owned in such a shade.
Fast forward a few years and I have found that Galdioli have somehow managed to sneak into my garden. Not the red variety of course but a beautiful dark velvety shade of purple which manages to capture beauty in each and every petal with such ease on a summers day.
They make beautiful striking cut flowers and I must try to get some more into the plot this year. I have dug up half of my corms and left the other half in situ so see if they can tolerate the mild winters in my garden. I have covered them with a good layer of mulch and left the dried stems on over winter to give them even more protection. I have all of my fingers crossed.
As most varieties are not completely hardy it is best to lift and store then over the winter. Corms should be dug up after the first frost and left to dry for a few weeks. Then the new corms should be detached from the withered, older mother corms and stored in boxes or mesh bags.
They don't appreciate being planted too early in spring when the soil is too cold. Plant the corms every couple of weeks from March to May for a succession of flowers right through the summer and into autumn.
Gladioli need a sunny position and good, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter to help hold plenty of moisture and apply a general granular plant food to the soil to ensure good quality blooms. The corms should be planted 10-15cm deep either in trenches or in individual holes and if planting in heavy soils plant the corms on a 5cm thick layer of sharp sand or gravel to improve drainage.
When the plants have produced 5 or 6 leaves the taller varieties will need staking and during periods of prolonged dry weather plants will need watering to prevent the soil drying out. A good soaking once a week is best. Fortnightly feeding with a liquid plant feed will help promote strong growth and as the flower spikes develop, switch to a high potash feed.