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Gladiolus

Gladiolus are available year-round as cut flowers. In cutting gardens theyíre usually in bloom from mid summer on. Towering over most of their neighbors, the tall spiky gladiolus are a favorite for cut flowers. Theyíre often used in summer bouquets.

In the summer, youíll find many different colors of gladiolus are sold in retail stores and at Upick farms. The flowers may be bicolor, green, purple, yellow, red, orange, pink, or white.

The stems may be one to five feet tall with the individual flowers being four inches across.

Each spike contains a number of individual blooms. The flowers may be plain to fancy with ruffled or fringed edges. Some will have contrasting throats or distinctive markings. Sometimes, these are cut from the stems for use in corsages and other floral arrangements.

When youíre harvesting gladiolus from your cutting garden, cut the stem when the lower flowers open.

Some gladiolus are fragrant, while others arenít. If this is important to you, shop around and ask for scented ones.

One thing to keep in mind when youíre working with gladiolus is that they will not stay straight no matter what you do. Donít worry, you arenít doing anything wrong. Itís the nature of the beast. They are geotropic, meaning they have a tendency to develop a curve.

Gladiolus are used as line flowers in arrangements when tall blooms with a linear shape are needed.

Glads have a vase life of one to two weeks, depending on how fresh they are when you buy them. Those harvested from your cutting garden can last two weeks if you condition them properly.

Itís so easy to grow gladiolus. They are grown from corms, which resemble true bulbs. They belong in every cutting garden. These plants are foolproof. Whether you plant the hardy ones or the tender summer varieties, the result will be gorgeous cut flowers for summer floral designs.

You donít even need an outdoor garden to grow them. I grow them in container gardens, which I take down to the basement when the first frost of fall is predicted. The following spring, I bring the pots out for another growing season. They never fail to produce lush, gorgeous blooms.

For cut flowers, the ones with large, showy blooms are often grown. Usually, thereíll be a color photo on the package or on the rack in the store where you buy the corms. Consult this so you know exactly what youíre getting.

Though many kinds of gladiolus arenít hardy, there are several known to be suitable for USDA zones 6 or so. I grow Gladiolus byzantium here in zone 5.

The name gladiolus is derived from a Latin word meaning sword in reference to the very long, sword-like leaves. This accounts for one of the plantís common name, sword lily. Gladiolus are also known as glads, and corn flag.

Mainly from South Africa, the bulb-like corms were once used as food by African tribes.

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