How to plant and grow Gladioli

Gladioli (Gladiolus), often known as Sword Lilies, are so easy to grow whether planted in the garden or potted up in containers. They have definitely made a come back over time and are working their way up the popularity ladder amongst gardeners again. Not only do they add that favoured height and burst of colour they look tremendous planted alongside other summer flowering bulbs like lilies and dahlias! Gladiolus make great cut flowers for indoors too.

Planting GLADIOLI in the garden

Gladioli are so easy to grow, as soon as the cold weather has passed, in March or April, plant the corms directly into your borders. Adding plenty of organic matter like well-rotted manure is good. Or you can always plant your gladioli in pots so that you can plunge them into your borders as they come into flower.

Gladioli originate from hot, dry climates like the Mediterranean and South Africa. So they require good drainage and plenty of sun. For best results grow in moist, but well-drained soil, in full sun.

Plant your Gladioli corms 10-16cm (4-6″) deep and 10cm (4″) apart. The stems may need staking so it is always best to insert the canes as you plant them to avoid piercing the corm.

Gladioli planted alongside Dahlias and Lilies

Planting gladioli in pots

Gladioli do really well in the garden but if you have a dry, heavy soil then planting in pots is advised. Use a good-quality, multi-purpose compost and ensure there is adequate drainage. We advise planting 5 corms to a 20cm (8″) pot. They will need planting closer together than mentioned above. Plant your corms 15-20cm (6-8″) deep. Again, they may need staking so do this as you plant them to avoid piercing the corms.

Position your containers/pots somewhere sunny and frost-free. Water freely.

Harts’ Hint
“Gladiolus can be planted about 2 weeks before the last expected spring frost. Gladiolus will take 70-90days to flower. For a continual display of flowers, plant a few corms every 2 weeks until early summer.”

caring for GLADIOLI

  • You can feed your Gladioli with a diluted Tomato feed every 2 weeks.
  • If in pots, stop watering at the end of summer and bring them indoors for winter to protect against frost. Place back outside once the danger of winter frosts has passed. 
  • If planted in the garden, we advise to lift and store your Gladioli corms for winter, store them in a breathable bag (like a paper bag) and ensure the air is able to circulate around the corms. Keep the corms in a cool, dry spot like a garage or shed. 
  • In mild parts of the country, you can keep your corms planted in the ground over winter but it is a risk, just mulch them over deeply with 6-7cm (2.5″).
  • After a few years, you can divide your gladioli corms to prevent the cormlets from sapping all the energy from the adult corms which will subsequently cause the production of more foliage without flower spikes.

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Advice about cutting

This question was asked by
Paul C

Hi. I planted out some rose lilies for cutting in a cutting bed and I’ve just started bringing them in, delighted with the results.
I just want some advice about whether they will repeat flower next year and if there is any way I should cut or feed them to improve the chances. I am so delighted with them we will be buying new stock anyway but would like this to become a recurrent bed if at all possible. Any advice would be much appreciated.

Hi Paul
You need to leave a good amount of stem on them to die back naturally to feed the bulb for the following year. If they are cut too short then they probably won’t flower for a few years. I’d suggest leaving atleast 2ft of stem if you can. You can give them a diluted tomato.feed to help them every 2 weeks.

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