A gorgeous ‘glad’ display
Their tall stems make a striking statement in the garden or a vase
Gladioli, or glads as they’re often referred to, make a good late summer and early autumn cut flower that can easily be grown at home. Their tall spikes have a stately look to them and they come in a wide range of bright, pastel and rich colours that can be arranged simply on their own or used in mixed displays to gain height and a spiky effect.
The autumn flower shows are a great place to see the wonderful range of colours, but if you want to grow your own, you’ll have to wait until early next spring to be able to buy the corms. When buying gladioli corms it’s important that you buy large, plump corms in order to get strong, tall flower spikes. The bigger the corms, the better the flowers, so avoid cheap bags of small mixed corms as you can be disappointed!
Grow outside in fertile, well-drained soil and a sunny position. Planting can start in late March and continue until the end of April or even early May.
For cut flowers it’s easiest to plant the corms in rows 15cm (6in) apart and about 10cm (4in) deep. The temptation is to plant all the corms at the same time but staggering planting over several weeks will extend the flowering season.
As the foliage grows, to give a little support to tall-growing varieties push some twiggy branches into the soil between them or grow them through a net suspended around 45cm (1½ft) off ground level.
The ideal time to cut the flowers for maximum vase life is when the first few flowers at the base of the stem open, although if you allow a few more to open the stems will have instant impact in the vase. They can be used in many different styles of arrangement, but I think a bunch of glads with just a little foliage is all you need.
Gladioli are one of the easiest cut flowers to grow in the garden
Gladioli often work best when simply arranged on their own in a tall vase with a li le foliage
Former head gardener, TV and radio broadcaster and RHS judge