The Gladiolus family are fine addition to the colourful garden. They also make fascinating subjects for the gardeners who like a challenge of the show bench.
Tips for Growing Prize Gladioli
Raised beds are good for soil fertility and can help you get some stonking great Gladioli.
Mulch the bed heavily to reduce the amount of watering you need to do and feed with blood fish and bone.
Plant 6″ deep and at least 4″ apart (more for show varieties).
Do not plant dormant corms but wait until small root swellings appear around the base.
Dust or dip in fungicide before planting.
Plant when the soil has warmed up on a layer of sand or vermiculite to aid drainage.
To keep the stems straight tie to a cane below the first bud and add loose ties as it grows.
A tee-pee of horticultural fleece can help prevent late frost damage or the bleaching effect of too much sun on red gladioli.
During the heat of the day tease flowers forward to get them to open to the front – in the cold they will break off.
Leave at least 4 leaves on the plant when cutting to ensure the new corm swells.
Lift 5-6 weeks after flowering, dry off, label and store for next year.
Buy corms of quality varieties that are know to do well on show benches.
Some varieties can grow up to 7 feet tall and are not suitable for garden decoration.
Varieties are classified with a 3 digit number according to size, colour and intensity of colour. The first number 1 for a miniature under 2.5″ to 5 for a giant over 5.5″ the second number 0 is white up to 9 for dark brown or tan flowers thirdly 2 is for light colours, 4 for medium and 6 for for deep shades (odd numbers are for streaked or marked flowers). So 301 might be a medium white flower with freckles.
For exhibition plants strip off the outer skins to expose the bud eyes and prior to planting carefully remove with a knife, all the bud eyes except the largest one near the crown.
24″ spikes destined for exhibition should have florets with petals that are fully hydrated and show no sign of aging or insect damage.
One-third of a spike should have florets in full bloom, the middle one-third showing color and the upper one-third in bud. The optimum may be 6-7 individual blooms or florets open at show time. They can be held back with a wrapping of stocking net or foil.
Florets should be evenly spaced and all facing in the same direction, coax individual floret blooms to face the front with a piece of dowel.
Old Show Varieties
These varieties are renown for opening 10 florets or more at the same time:
athlone, bow bells, chinook, cotillion, doctor fleming,