Growing Gladiolus For Cut Flowers

Gladiolus can be successfully grown in almost any soil and position, but they give the best results in an open, sunny situation where there is some protection against strong winds. Early soil preparation is always an advantage, and if well-rotted manure is incorporated with the deeply dug soil, it will enable the corms to give of their best, although it is important that the corms should not be in actual contact with the manure at planting time. Plant 3 or din. Deep from the end of March onwards.

It is, of course, best that each corm should be the right way up when planted, although when this is not so the growing point finds its way to the surface and the light.

Ample supplies of water must be available during the growing season. It is always a help to space the rows at least 12 in. apart, and for cutting purposes, a little wider alley after every 8 or Jo rows will make it easier to move over the bed. If necessary, liquid fertiliser can be applied once the spike can be seen in the sheath.


Cutting should be done when the lowest floret is half open. This will ensure that the spikes will remain in good condition for a long time after they have been cut. During warm weather the florets will open much quicker than when it is cool.

Cut with as long a stem as possible, remembering to leave a few leaves on the plant. Long stems certainly find favour with flower arrangers, although if florets are few there is no real point in cutting a very long stem which will emphasise the smallness of the head.

Gladiolus primulinus hybrids are less formal than the large-flowered type and are most suitable for all kind of decorative work. One very practical way in which they are of value is that, whereas the bigger varieties are liable to topple over when placed in containers which are not of good size with a heavy base, the primulinus hybrids are quite suitable for the smaller receptacles, such as are to be found in the majority of homes. With the present-day hybrids, the drooping upper petal has been altered by selective breeding, so that, instead of this petal hanging downwards, thereby suggesting that it is fading, it just arches slightly and attractively.

The following are all good and most adaptable as cut flowers, all are reliable for table decoration, and provide beauty over a long period; some are old varieties, others not so old, others very modern. ‘Copernicus’, coppery-orange, a good-shaped spike on which 5 or 6 well-placed florets open at one time; ‘Orange Papillion’, salmon-orange with darker blotch on lower petals; `Rembrandt’, fiery-red, white markings on lower petal; `Atom’, scarlet, picotee edge of silver; `Ivory Queen’, ivory, mauve markings; `Lavender and Gold’, lavender, gold throat; ‘Milkmaid’, creamy-white, frilled petals; ‘Richard Unwin’, chestnut-crimson with creamy stripes; ‘Tops’, deep salmon; `Tweedledum’, rich red, yellow blotch; `Tweedledee’, red and gold; `Starlet’, ruffled white; ‘Red Roofs’, brick-red, cream throat; `Pink Rival’, salmon-pink; `Harlequin’, cream speckled salmon; ‘Red Wings’, reddish-salmon with flecked throat; `Maroon Maid’, velvety-maroon, small and dainty.

Fairly recently there have been introduced quite a number of so- called miniature and small-flowered varieties of gladiolus. They are particularly notable for the frilliness of their petals, although they cannot be said to justify the title of miniature, for in many cases the size of the florets is similar to the primulinus, type.

The ‘Butterfly’ strain consists of varieties having florets about half the size of the large-flowered sorts. All have attractive throat markings, resembling the shape of a butterfly.

Of particular value for cutting are the early-flowering, dainty varieties, often referred to as hardy gladioli.

More often than not, all the early-flowering varieties are now grouped under the one heading but they are given here in the classes to which they actually belong and under which they are sometimes offered by gladiolus specialists. G. brantinus, purplish-red, and its white form, albus; G. colvillei albus, ‘The Bride’, the best pure white for cutting; this has attractive white anthers. There is also a carmine-red known as colvillei rubra. The dwarf G. cuspidatus freely produces white flowers, ornamented with purple flecks; G. tristis is a fragrant, creamy-white, which often flowers in late April, and G. segeturn is a now-uncommon carmine-pink.

The section strictly classed as gladiolus nanus contains a number of attractive varieties, among which are ackermanii, orange-scarlet, with darker fleckings; ‘Amanda Mahy’, one of the best, with comparatively large, salmon-red flowers having small violet markings. `Bloodstone’ is an attractive blood-red, and ‘Blushing Bride’, sometimes listed as delicatissima, is white with carmine flecks and is among the best for cutting.

‘Peach Blossom’ is another reliable sort being a delicate pink shade, while `Rosamunda’ is a deep pink on tall stems. A favourite and one of the best in this section is ‘Spitfire’, which freely produces its violet-marked, scarlet-vermilion flowers.

It is recommended that the corms of all these be planted in October and given the added protection of straw, bracken or something similar during the winter. Alternatively, they can be grown in pots in the cool greenhouse.

All have stems which are wiry and rigid and do not curve in water, as do many others. Most of the florets are elegantly waved, and the colour range takes in white, violet, cream, pink and rosy-red, many having dark lines in their throat. There are signs that this strain will be of great value, since it flowers in June and its dainty appearance makes it of special use for indoor decorative work.

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