How to Improve Your Garden with Gladdies
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Published by TOP4 Team
Gladdies make exquisite cut flowers and, with a rich palette of colours, they suit all sorts of arrangements. Cut the flower stems before the blooms have opened, when the first signs of colour appear on the bottom florets. Aim to leave about a third of the stem intact and use the foliage sparingly, as it provides nourishment for the flower next year. The tips tips of the flowers are attracted to sunlight, so laying them down flat for a few hours allows them to angle their tips towards light, causing bent and twisted flowers. Flower arrangers use this method to produce interesting floral displays.
There are more than 50 varieties available in Australia, so there’s a gladiolus to suit all colour tastes. Hybridising has become a hot topic among horticulture enthusiasts, and new glamorous varieties continue to pop up, many with bicoloured flowers. As a result, gladdies have morphed into a stylish addition to flower beds, then there’s their cutting potential - homegrown flowers make impressive vase subjects.
How Do I Grow Them
Position. Sunny positions are essential for strong stems and prolific flowering. Because the flower stems are so tall, they are best planted in a spot that is protected from strong winds.
Soil. While they are not particularly fussy about the they grow in, they don’t like having wet feet for long. Avoid damp spots, and plant into free-draining soils, to which organic matter has been added -- well-rotted manure or compost is ideal.
Fertiliser. Little fertiliser is needed, as the flowers draw their nutrition from the corm. However, adding a complete fertiliser about a month before flowering will help produce strong and vibrant blooms. while plants are in flower, you can also feed them fortnightly with a soluble fertiliser formulated for flowering plants, such as Yates Thrive Flower & fruit.
Water. Blooming in summer as they do, gladdies will need watering at least once a week, but be prepared to give them a little extra during a heatwave. A nice deep watering is more effective than a light splash with the hose every night. After the flowers die back, you can allow the plants to dry out a little more.
Care. Traditionally, gardeners are advised to dig up the corms at the end of the season for storage, but in mild climates you’ll find you can enjoy years of flowers without any special attention. If you live in a frost-prone region, however, you may get better results by digging up the corms after the leaves have yellowed and died back. Wash, dry and store them in a dry place for replanting the following year.
Pests. When the plants are in bloom, thrips can prove a major pest. They will sometimes eat their way into the developing buds and prevent the flower from opening. Keep an eye out for these tiny insects (small brown or black specks about 1mm long) and spray with an insecticide.