The word Gladiolus is derived from the Latin word Gladius, that means a sword. It is also known as ‘Sword lily’, because of its sword-like leaves. Gladiolus is popular for its magnificent flowering spikes, large blooms, dazzling colors, different size & long keeping quality. The color range in Gladiolus is fantastic & almost any color from nearly black to white, pink, violet, lilac, mauve, greenish, and smoky is available.
Gladiolus is by far the best suited bulbous plant in India. It is used as cut flower and is excellent for beds, herbaceous borders & does quite well in pots. Read more about how to design a flowerbed.
Planting Gladiolus bulbs:
Gladiolus is planted from corms which are commonly called bulbs. These bulbs are available in various sizes. A medium sized bulb with high crown (top) is better than a large flat bulb.
It is better to get bulbs sprouted before planting by keeping them in the dark, warm place covered with black polyethene or by buying the bulbs in 5- 7.5 cm layer of moist sand.
After sprouting, planting can be done in beds or pots. Planting of bulb can be done throughout the year, however best results are observed in winters.
Growing Gladiolus in pots:
For cultivation of Gladiolus in pots, the potting mixture should contain one part of the good soil, two parts of cow-dung manure, & half part of coarse sand. About two tablespoonfuls of bone-meal & a handful of wood ash should also be mixed in the potting mixture. Frequent light watering, every alternate day is recommended for potted plants. Pot should be placed in a sunny location, sheltered from extreme temperatures.
Gladiolus plant care:
Gladiolus plant, particularly the bulbs are prone to few fungal diseases like Botrytis gladiolorum. Regular spraying fungicides can check the infections. However, once affected the plants cannot be saved & hence diseased plants should be uprooted with bulbs & destroyed by burning. It is suggested to grow Gladiolus alternatively, in the winter & the summer wherever feasible to overcome the problem of one or the other diseases on a short term basis.
Gladiolus is an early blooming plant. Under favorable conditions, the flowering spikes appear within two months of planting. When flower spikes start emerging, staking with strong bamboo stakes should be provided so that the spikes do not break or fall during winds.
Staking is not needed if plants are grown closely or in clumps. The flowering spikes can be cut from the bottom by a sharp knife & can be put in a vase or flowerpot for a long time.
Reference book: Floriculture in India.