GLADIOLUS

Superb border plants, growing from corms, with brilliantly coloured flowers in mid- and late summer. Each bloom may be as much as 10cm – 4in across and they are borne on spikes 40-50cm – 16-20in long.

Suitable site and soil. Plant in an open, sunny position. A loamy or sandy soil is best and heavy clays should be lightened with plenty of organic matter.

Cultivation and care. Plant corms lOcmMin deep and 15cm – 6in apart in spring. Dress the soil with bone meal and rake in before planting. Stake all hybrid gladioli. Except for hardy types, such as G. byzantinus, lift the corms in autumn and dry 84 off. Store the new, firm corms in a dry, frost-proof place.

Propagation. Look for cormlets round the old corm when storing, and plant these separately in spring, 8cm – 3in deep in rows in a nursery bed (a sunny corner of the garden, perhaps in the vegetable plot). Lift in autumn.

Recommended varieties. For garden display, the tall, large-flowered hybrids (1.2-1.5m – 4-5ft, mid-summer to early autumn) are best. For cutting, grow the butterfly types (about lm – 3ft, mid- and late summer). Hardy types include G. byzan-tinus (wine-red, 60cm – 2ft, early summer).

Pests and diseases. Core rot can attack corms in store. They become soft and brown. Destroy affected corms. Partly rotted corms produce abortive plants. Several fungi can occur on growing plants. If badly attacked, lift and destroy.

SOLO DISPLAY

Gladioli are not best suited to mixed planting in the garden. They look better in a separate bed, and are most attractive in groups of single colours. Choose the large-flowered showy hybrids.

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