Gladiolus (Sword lily)
Posted by Rajiv Gautam on 29th Nov, 2013
Few plants are as popular in the world as the gladioli. They are seen everywhere in florists shops and stay long as cut flowers. They grow in a wide spectrum of climates except where it is very humid or very cold; sunshine is necessary for them to flower. They are most suitable for massed plantings in beds and pots. Many beautiful hybrids have been developed; apart from the solid colours of white, red, pink, orange, yellow and purple, there are mottled and streaked varieties. All gladioli thrive in a light sandy soil which is not too rich but has plenty of leafmould added to it. A sludge-based fertilizer is better than an animal manure which tends to rot the bulbs sometimes. Two large corms to a pot will do nicely; in a bed they can be planted about 4-6 inches apart at a depth of 4 inches. They need to be staked if the stems are somewhat twisted and weak. Experienced gardeners like to 'hill up' or mound the earth to about 6 inches around the plant when it is about a foot tall to give it extra support. A month after the flowers fade, the corms should be dug up, dried in the sun and dusted with a combination of insecticide and fungicide and put in an airy place, preferably into a box punched with holes. The following year they can be planted in September to bloom in the spring.