Gladiolus are known for their tall elegance in a garden bed, and as Australian TV personality Dame Edna Everage’s favourite flower, which she calls ‘gladdies’ and which always appear on stage with her. Today these popular perennials are available as many different hybrids, sporting magnificent, bright colours and trending as pot plants.
The first thing to consider when planting Gladiolus in containers is their eventual height of between 60cm and nearly 2m. The shorter the stems, the less staking they will need later on. Choose a container that is at least 30cm deep and 30cm wide.
Consider planting the corms and over-planting with spring-flowering annuals that can be used as a mulch and will keep your pots looking good as the Glads grow. Make sure that your container has good drainage holes as the bulbs don’t like to be waterlogged, and a soggy pot can be a breeding ground for bacteria and lead to rot.
Add a layer of gravel on the bottom and fill with a good quality potting soil. The corms need to be planted 8 – 15cm deep and 5 – 7cm apart, with the flat side down. Water well after planting and add a layer of mulch (especially if you don’t over-plant with annuals). Give the Gladiolus a good watering once a week, or more often in a hot, dry environment.
Find a sheltered sunny position for your container. Once the plants have started blooming, deadhead to ensure continuous growth. When the flowers have stopped blooming the foliage will continue to produce food for the corms for the next season. Leave the foliage as is and continue watering until the leaves turn yellow and brown and dry up. Empty the pot to recover the bulbs. Leave the soil around the corms to dry and then brush off and store in a cool, dry place until the following year.
For the Vase
When cutting for the vase, cut off the plant and then recut them underwater to promote longer lasting flowers.
Here are our tips for planting your glads in the garden:
- Plant in groups for a dramatic effect.
- Glads prefer soils that are on the sandy side, for drainage. Add compost and loosen soil to a depth of 20cm. Drainage is key, so don’t plant in clay soils. Rather go for the potted option.
- Plant in full sun.
- Stake if necessary.
- Don’t allow the soil to dry out, but don’t overwater.
- Spray against fungal diseases and insects if needed.