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Gladiolus Information
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Growing Gladiolus
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Explanation of Size and Classification
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Growing Gladiolus
The GLADIOLUS is an easy to grow flower that produces tall spikes in a rainbow of colours and bicolours in a range of sizes and forms. Large glads make an elegant statement in vases while miniatures being generally smaller in stature are great for arranging. Glads can provide colour in annual beds and borders. Plant them in groups of seven or more corms of the same colour for best effect. If you are primarily growing for cut flowers you may want to plant them in rows as it will be easier to tend to plants and harvest the flower stalks.

How to Grow Gladiolus

Given a few simple requirements, glads are easy to grow. They do well in a wide range of soil types, provided drainage is good, but they grow best in soil with a pH of 6.7 to 7. Most garden soil that will produce a good crop of vegetables or weeds will also grow good glads with little or no added fertilizer. Glads prefer full sunlight but will do reasonably well with a little high shade early morning or late afternoon. Good air circulation is desirable, so stay away from buildings or other obstructions, which might impede airflow.

Plow, rototill or spade your soil as you would for any other garden plants, it is best to move your glad planting from one area to another each year to help prevent disease carryover in the soil. If soil test or other reliable indicators points to lack of nutrients, a balanced commercial fertilizer such as 5-10-10 may be incorporated into the soil immediately prior to planting, at a rate of 2-3 pounds per 100 square feet. Avoid over fertilizing. Composted animal manure or leaves should be worked into the soil in the fall.

Once you receive your corms, they should be unpacked and be allowed to air in a cool location, such as your basement, until planting time.
Your first planting should be when you would normally plant sweet corn in your area. Corms planted in cold soils are apt to rot before they begin to grow. Subsequent plantings at two-week intervals will ensure bloom over a long period of time. Large corms bloom earlier than smaller sizes and there are Early and Late blooming cultivars as well.( Canadian prairies with shorter seasons are recommended to grow Early to Midseason cultivars and larger size corms)

Plant corms three to five inches deep (about 4 times as deep as their diameter) and from four to six inches apart. Insecticide spread in the trench before covering will discourage underground insects. Before glads bloom, hilling soil six inches up around the stalk helps prevent the glads from tipping during storms. Remember that glads need plenty of water but will not tolerate wet feet. If drainage is a problem in your soil, rows should be raised to facilitate the process.

Weed by shallow cultivation and hand weeding. Avoid packing or heavy caking of soil surface, which prevents soil aeration. If available, a light mulch of straw, grass clippings etc., between rows will discourage weeds and help conserve moisture.
Insect control is important in growing glads. Pests include thrip, which is far the most damaging. Thrip are tiny insects, tan to black in colour and less than 1/8" length, can be controlled by several good combination sprays and dusts, including organic products that are available at your Garden Center. If you chose organic products more frequent applications will be needed.

If you live were the ground freezes you will need to dig your corms each year or if you choose not to dig, purchase new corms and treat them as an annual just as you would with impatiens and other annuals.

Glad corms should be lifted in fall before onset of ground freezing weather. About 6-8 weeks after blooming, the corms may be harvested by loosening the soil with a spade or digging fork so the plants can be pulled by hand. The plant should be separated from the corm as close to the corm as possible, either by hand breaking or with pruning shears. You should remove the old tops from the garden to prevent carry over disease. The corms should be cleaned or rinsed off with running water and then spread out to dry in shallow layers in trays or porous bags in an airy location that will not freeze for a period of 2-3 weeks. During this time a cork layer forms between the new corm and the old mother corm and roots. Break off and discard this corm as soon as possible.

If you live where the ground does not freeze in the winter you may choose not to dig your corms; however, disease and crowding may reduce the amount and quality of your bloom. You should remove plant tops 6-8 weeks after bloom from your garden to prevent the spread of disease.

After cleaning, corms should be lightly dusted with a combination fungicide/insecticide dust, placed in shallow trays, mesh bags or open paper bags to be stored for the winter. Do not us any covering material. A well-ventilated root cellar is ideal but any room with good air circulation in the average home basement will suffice, if temperatures can be kept between 38-58 degrees Fahrenheit (3-14 degrees Celsius). The lower temperature is the best.

Bring a sharp knife or florist's shears to the garden. Cut the flower spikes first thing in the morning or at night, not during the heat of the day. Cut spikes with one to three flowers open, the rest will open in order up the spike. Allow at least four leaves to remain on the plant if you wish to re-use the corms. Cut diagonally through the stalk and place it in a tall bucket with lukewarm water. Once you've collected all the glads you want to cut, put the bucket in a cool, dark place for a few hours so the blooms "harden off". Arrange your flowers in a vase or as desired. You may use a flower preservative in the water if you wish but it is not necessary. More importantly, you should freshen the water and recut the stems every few days. As lower flowers fade, pick them off. This will keep your bouquet looking fresh. Once most of the blooms have faded you may want to cut the spike down to size and arrange in a shorter vase.

Glad shows are a delightful way to enjoy the many outstanding cultivars on the market. The shows of Members Societies of the NAGC (North American Gladiolus Society) are listed in the summer issue of Glad World. You can go on the NAGC website for more glad information. Other opportunities such as Fairs and Floral exhibitions exist where you can view glads or display the results of your growing efforts.

Explanation of Size and Colour Classifications

Floret Size Classification- the first number of the three digit classification code
Size measurement of first open floret
100's Miniature Florets under 2.5"
200 Small Florets 2.5"-3.5"
300 Medium Florets 3.5"-4.5"
400 Large Florets 4.5"-5.5"
500 Giant Florets 5.5" or larger

Colour Classification-the second two numbers in the three digit classification code
Colour Pale Light Medium Deep Other
White 00 or 01        
Green   02 or 03 04 or 05 06 or 07  
Cream 10 or 11        
Yellow   12 or 13 14 or 15 16 or 17  
Buff 20 or 21        
Orange   22 or 23 24 or 25 26 or 27  
Salmon 30 or 31 32 or 33 34 or 35 36 or 37  
Pink 40 or 41 42 or 43 44 or 45 46 or 47  
Red   52 or 53 54 or 55 56 or 57 58 or 59 -Black Red
Rose 60 or 61 62 or 63 64 or 65 66 or 67 68 or 69 -Black Rose
Lavender 70 or 71 72 or 73 74 or 75 76 or 77 78 or 79 -purple
Blue 80 or 81 82 or 83 84 or 85 86 or 87 88 or 89 -violet
Tan/Brown 90 or 91 92 or 93 94 or 95   98 or 99 -brown
Grey       96 or 97  
Smokies • From 2014 and on Smokies will be the base colour followed by S example 426S
• Same as F is for Fragrant
(Previous smoky introductions before 2014, are classified with numbers between the tan/brown classifications)

*Two Digit Classification Numbers Above ending in even numbers-0,2,4,6,8 indicate a near or completely solid colour with no other coloured marking. However, inconspicuous, small markings of any other colour are accepted anywhere on the florets, eg. 1/2" by 1/2" small markings on throats and centers-blotches, snips, brush marks, spears etc.

*Two Digit Classification Numbers Above ending in even numbers-1,3,5,7,9 indicate obvious conspicuous markings to the human eye with any of a variety of colours, shapes and sizes. Bi and Tri coloured florets are common with a variety of coloured blotches, throats, splashes, darts, veining and various other markings.

Our Bulb (corm) sizes are Approximately the following:
  Diameter Circumference
Jumbo 1 3/4" and up 14 cm and up
Large 1 1/2" to 1 3/4" 12 cm to 14 cm
Medium 1" to 1 1/2" 8 cm to 12 cm
Small 3/4" to 1" 6cm to 8 cm

  #1 12 cm to 14 cm
  #2 10 cm to 12 cm
  #3 8 cm to 10 cm
  #4 6 cm to 8 cm

In our catalogue Units = 1L, 2M, 3S
New Introduction Units = 1L, 1M, 2S
Blooming Season-days till bloom
VE (Very Early) under 70 days
E (Early) 70-74 days
EM (Early Midseason) 75-79 days
M (Midseason) 80-84 days
LM (Late Midseason) 85-90 days
L (Late) 91-99 days
VL (Very Late) 100 days or more

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