Tips to help gladioluses bloom

Q. My gladioluses are not blooming. What can I do to push them to bloom?

Wilbur from Salem

A. Gladioluses are lovely plants that have been grown for generations. My grandmother used to have them every year to add a little color to the vegetable garden.

Many people know them as the old-fashioned funeral flowers. But times have changed. The flowers bloom up a slender stalk and can be quite striking, coming in many colors. Gladioluses grow from a corm — similar to a flower bulb. The corms cannot survive our winters, and thus are treated as tender bulbs. You’ll need to dig them each year and store them properly to plant the following season.

Reasons for no blooms:

Full sun is required. If you’re saving bulbs and they grow in partial sun or partial shade each year, this could be reducing the size of the corms and thus slowing your bloom. If you’re purchasing new corms, choose larger ones. Smaller corms are generally cheaper, but will take longer to bloom.

Soil must have good drainage. Our excessive moisture and cool conditions have affected many plants in many gardens across the Valley this year. Gladiolus corms are sensitive to “wet feet” so the conditions could be slowing down the bloom time. If you think this is the case, consider improving the soil or adding drainage before planting next season. While they don’t like wet feet, they need a fair amount of water to produce quality blooms. Also, mulching is a good idea to retain soil moisture when not watering.

You may have a late-season cultivar, rather than an early or midseason cultivar.

Soil must have adequate nutrients and a proper pH level. A soil test is the only way to know.

To push the plants to bloom, correct these problems. That will not guarantee a bloom this season, but it will get you on the road to great plants and hopefully blooms next year. For more, go to:

Eric Barrett is OSU Ext. educator for agriculture and natural resources in Mahoning County. Call the office hot line at 330-533-5538 from 9 a.m. to noon Mondays and Thursdays to submit your questions.

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