Glads are grouped by flower size from miniature to giant. The larger ones are most popular with florists. While most glads are hardy to Zone 7 as a perennial, one (Gladiolus nanus) is hardy to Zone 5.
Common name: Gladiolus, sword lily
Botanical name: Gladiolus spp.
Plant type: Corm
Height: 3 to 60 inches tall
Zones: Hardy Zones 7 to 10 as a perennial (possibly Zone 6 with several inches of loose mulch during winter) for most varieties. Annual in Zones 3 to 10.
Family: Iridaceae (Iris)
- Sun: Full sun
- Soil: Glads grow in a variety of soils, but loam or sandy loam gives best results. Good drainage is imperative.
- Moisture: 1 inch of water a week.
- Mulch: Apply a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch to help prevent weeds and conserve moisture.
- Fertilizer: Add a balanced fertilizer to soil before planting. Apply fertilizer higher in potash when growth is 1/3 of final height. Keep fertilizer away from plant stems.
- Pruning: Remove spent blooms.
- ‘Mon Amour' (pictured) has flowers with pink and yellow highlights in midsummer to early fall. Grows 36 to 48 inches tall.
- ‘Green Star' has lime-green flowers in midsummer to early fall. Grows 36 to 48 inches tall.
- ‘Parade' has ruffled salmon-pink flowers in late summer. Flower spikes grow 32 to 34 inches tall.
- ‘Pulchritude' has ruffled lavender-pink flowers with red marks. An early season bloomer, the flower spikes grow 30 inches tall.
- ‘Sunsport' has ruffled ivory and deep yellow flowers from late spring to early fall. Flower spikes grow 26 to 28 inches tall.
- ‘Zephyr' has ruffled, light lavender to pink flowers with cream-colored centers. It blooms late spring to early fall. Flower spikes grow 32 inches tall.
- Purchase firm, plump, high-centered corms with smooth husks and no spots or dark areas.
- Plant corms 3 to 6 inches deep and 3 to 6 inches apart in spring, depending on size of corms.
- Plant in clumps of seven or more in a perennial garden or in rows in a cutting garden.
- Plant a variety of cultivars in two-week intervals to achieve a longer bloom period. Some glads bloom late spring to early fall (Grandiflorus group); some early summer (Nanus group); and others early to late summer (Primulinus group).
- Stake tallest cultivars to keep them from falling.
- Where treated as an annual, lift corms six weeks after blooming, then cut foliage, shake off soil, and dry for a couple of weeks. Select best new corms and store in a dry, frost-free place. Discard old corms.
- Corm rot, stem rot, gray mold, viruses, and aster yellows may occur.
- Mites, thrips, and aphids may attack.
- Separate cormlets when dormant.
All in the family
- The Iridaceae (Iris) family includes perennials with showy flowers and long narrow leaves such as crocus, iris, freesia, tiger flower, and crocosmia.