Are gladiolus annuals or perennials? Let’s look at growing this flower as an annual or perennial, including the zones it does well.
There are only a few flowers that can beat gladiolus blossoms for their unique color and impressive form. This genus Gladiolus contains at least 180 species and many cultivars, all growing from bulbs called corms.
The gladiolus flower is versatile in the US, growing in vital USDA plant hardiness zones 7 to 10.
Did you know you have the option of growing it as an annual or perennial depending on the climate of your area? Let’s have a closer look.
Are Gladiolus Annuals Or Perennials?
Gladiolus bulbs can grow as either annuals or perennials, depending on your area’s climate and weather.
If you live in USDA plant hardiness zones 7 through 10, you can grow gladiolus plants as perennials. You can leave the corms underground all year.
To get the best results, ensure you grow your corms in a well-drained area that is not subject to flooding to eliminate fungal problems.
However, to get better flowers each year, it is best to dig up your bulbs at the end of the growing season and plant them again in the fall. Once you dig them up, store them indoors until their replanting time the following spring.
Areas that have hot summers are not the best to leave your corms underground after flowering. It is best to dig them up after flowering since extreme heat tends to damage gladiolus plants.
If you live in an area subject to subfreezing winter temperatures, your bulbs will be better off dug out and stored indoors. The gladiolus bulbs are highly susceptible to frost damage.
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Gladiolus Growth Habit
Gladiolus plants have flat, sword-like leaves growing in a fan-shaped pattern. They get flowers appearing on tall spikes, with each tip produced by single corn.
Flowers open gradually on each spike, starting from the lowest bud to the highest. They can take several days to weeks to open fully.
All flowers on a single spike usually face a single direction appearing late spring or early summer, depending on the cultivar.
Growing Gladiolus As Annuals
These plants are technically perennials, but most gardeners swear by growing them as annuals. Growing them as annuals means you need to bring plant them each year in the spring after the danger of frost has passed.
For the best display of gladiolus flowers, plant the bulbs every 2 weeks from early to late spring. This schedule provides you with flowers for cutting as a display all summer long.
You can extend or space out the flowering period further by including cultivars that bloom at different times.
Gladiolus plants are more beautiful when planted in groups of 5 to 7 corms. When grown in full sun, they produce large and bright blossoms on strong stalks. They can also grow in shade or partial sun, but they have fewer blossoms.
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Digging Up Your Gladiolus
Many people make the mistake of digging up your gladiolus corms too early before the foliage has died.
If you want to store your gladiolus bulbs, then wait until the foliage has died and the greenery. The only way the foliage dies is if the first frost falls, so wait until this happens to dig them up.
After a gladiolus flower spike completes its blooming season, the plant concentrates its energy into the bulb at the base of the stem. Digging the bulbs up should start at least 8 weeks after blooming if you want to plant the same ones next season. Giving them time to rest after flowering is over gives them time to cure and prepare them for a new planting season.
The trickiest part of this process is knowing when to dig up gladiolus corms. Once the foliage is dead and turned brown, you can gently dig up your gladiolas corms from the soil. However, it is generally safe if you wait until all of the plant matter has died back.
Storing Gladiolus Bulbs
Once you have successfully dug your bulbs, it’s best to store them properly to avoid killing them. You have already done too much work to want to destroy them.
When storing, cut the plant’s top leaving a bit of stem above the bulb, and remove excess soil. Corms need curing for about 3 weeks in a warm, dry indoor location with good air circulation.
Before storing, remove any shriveled ones and any that are not in good shape. Store your healthy corms at 35 to 45 degrees F in cloth or paper, net, or old nylons hose bags.
Here is a step by step on how to store your bulbs:
- Cut the flower stalks off above each corm, leaving just a tiny piece. Wash the soil off and allow them to dry in a well-ventilated area for a couple of weeks.
- Separate the healthy corms from the unhealthy ones. Layer them in a cardboard box using newspapers to line them in between.
- Store them in a dark, dry, cool area with temperatures ranging between 35 to 45 degrees F.
- If you have more than one batch of bulbs, label them to know which ones were harvested first.
- Once stored, check your corms from time to time to ensure they are still in good condition. If you see them starting to sprout, move them closer to a cooler spot. If you notice signs of rot, remove the packing material, as it could be too moist.
If you don’t want the fuss of digging up and storing the bulbs each year, buy new ones each spring for your planting.
Planting gladiolus and providing gladiolus care is as easy as digging and storing them for the next growing season. Though it may seem like a lot of work, gardeners who have mastered the art of doing this can swear that this process is straightforward.
If you are growing the hybrid gladiolus, they may not give you a good harvest of flowers in the coming season, so the best thing to do is buy new ones each planting season.