Cutting the Blossoms

Glads are primarily grown for use as a cut flower. It is common knowledge that a gladiolus is much more beautiful if it has a long stem. But it is necessary to leave at least 4 leaves to help the plant in developing big strong corms for the next season's growth. Russian selectionist A. Gromov has suggested his own way of cutting blooms in his book "Gladioluses":

To cut the spike use a narrow sharp knife, rather than shears, to avoid bruising. Take the spike in your left hand and make a slanting cut in the spike's way out from leaves. Then hold the spike with your right hand, carefully rotate it clockwise with your left hand and slowly pull it up. Be sure at least four leaves are left on the plant after cutting spikes to allow corm development.

Keeping Flowers in a Vase

To keep the gladioluses in a vase, the Latvian florist J. Vasarietis suggests one of these additions in 1 litre of the water:

  • 1 tablet of aspirin
  • 0.5 g marganese solution
  • 0.4 g citric acid
  • 1 tablespoonful of vinegar
  • 2-3 drops of liquid ammonia
  • 1 teaspoonful of boric acid
  • 15-20 g sugar or glucose
  • 1 activated carbon tablet.

To get the most enjoyment from flower spikes, pick when the first florets are beginning to open. The remaining florets will open in time. Cut the spikes in the early morning or evening for maximum freshness. Put spikes in cold water immediately after cutting. Leave glads in a cool, dark place for several hours before arranging. This will help flowers harden off and last longer. As the florets fade, remove them to keep the glads looking their best. Change the water daily, and give stems a fresh cut to extend the life of the glads.

How to Fight the Pests?

Gladioli are relatively free of insect pests. The major insect pest of glads is the gladiolus thrips (Taeniothrips simplex). This pest is very small and it is difficult to see it with the naked eye. It does considerable damage, especially to the flowers. It "works" on the buds before they emerge from the sheaths and causes malformed and spotted flowers. Thrips can overwinter on stored corms and will injure them at that time.

Usually written sources say that it is very difficult to fight against thrips. A. Verinsh, a famous Latvian selectionist, claims that it is easy if a flower-grower is attentive. If you find thrips on your corms in winter or spring there is an easy way to annihilate them. Put your corms into plastic bags (one sort per bag), inject them with any insecticide and tie up the bags. Be careful to avoid poisoning. In 2-3 days you can take the corms out and put them in their place.

A non-chemical method of controlling thrips build-up is to soak the corms in very hot water (not boiling - about 160° F (80° C)) for about 2 minutes. Try to plant them in a different location each season to help control thrips populations.

Easy Glads Reproduction

Corms are most productive during their first six years. Often as they become older they may decline in vigour. For this reason it is desirable to save cormels to develop a constant supply of young, vigorous corms. After a gladiolus corm has been planted, a new corm begins to grow from the top of the old one. In addition to the new corm, smaller corms or "cormels" usually develop at the new corm base. These cormels can be removed and stored for planting the next spring. This method is the easiest to multiply glads because it is possible without any special skills (like division of old corms or growing seeds). Cormels are identical to the mother corm in color and flower type. There are some advices for best results:

Varieties should be labeled as you plant. This will help you to keep them separated at digging time. It is important to keep colors separated because they multiply at different rates. Colors such as white, yellow, and pink are usually quite vigorous and may multiply faster than the dark colors like purple, rose, or smoky. If corms are mixed together, the lighter, more productive colors will eventually outnumber the darker colored varieties. This may give the impression that the glads "have changed colors" to primarily light shades.

Save only cormels of the size of a dime or larger. Cormels of this size can bloom two or three years after replanting.

Before planting in the spring soak cormels in water for one day.