‘Gladiolus for Beginners’ by Mick Poultney

Mick’s enthusiasm for growing and showing Gladiolus was clear to the well-attended February 2023 meeting.

There are many websites giving useful information about the growing and care of Gladiolus, one of the best being The British Gladiolus Society website ( http://www.britglad.com/ ). Mick has found other websites useful including Sarah Raven (https://www.sarahraven.com/ ) , J Parkers (https://www.jparkers.co.uk/ ), and Farmer Gracy (https://www.farmergracy.co.uk/ ).

There was then plenty of advice for growers to take in order to produce beautiful gladiolus successfully, and the subsequent preparation for showing. Starting with the corms the outside skin should be taken off and the corm checked for disease. Each corm should be planted with one eye, or shoot, the others having been removed before planting. They need planting 8 ins deep with vermiculite in the hole and care taken to be gentle with the shoot. Side shoots should be removed at the base as they occur. Any seaweed-based fertilizer will promote excellent growth. It is worth remembering that Gladioli takes 100 days from planting to flowering.

Judges like gladioli to be straight with compact flowers so a cane for support is a good idea. Uniformity is essential with a third of the flowers open, a third in bud and the top third in waiting. Of course, it is all in the timing for any show so staggered planting, ice cubes to hold them back, and warm sugar water to help them out are all bits of advice that we may need should we wish to show gladiolas at the annual show!

At the end of the season the stalks and leaves should be left for 3 weeks so the nourishment can go back into the corms, after which they need to be gently dug up and saved for the next year. The baby cormlets can also be saved and grown on, although patience is needed as it can take 3 years to get a decent flower. 

For more of Mick’s work go to https://mickpoultney.co.uk/  or follow him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TheCompostKing