Also called Sword Lily and named for their sword-like leaves; a gladiolus is a small Roman sword.
- Plant corms in full sun 5" deep and 8" apart after the last spring frost.
- Stagger plantings for a long season of blooms: First planting in early to mid-May, then again every two weeks through mid June. This schedule will keep the flowers coming July through August.
- Hill or stake the corms at planting time to keep the plants from keeling over when the foliage and 3–4' flower spikes get top heavy.
- Mulch with straw to retain even moisture and prevent weeds.
- Cut when 2–3 blossoms have opened, taking care to spare the leaves, which feed the developing corm.
- To overwinter, dig up the corms after the tops have died, discard the old one, clean the new one, dry, allow it to dry off, and store them in paper bags in a cool (35–45°) dark dry place.
Tender Summer Bulbs
Spring-planted bulbs offer wonderful variety to the cutflower market and are a staple in old-fashioned gardens. Spring-planted bulbs are not hardy to northern climes. Smart and thrifty people lift and store them over the winter; the rest of us treat them as annuals.
Overwintering Summer Bulbs
Dig spring-planted summer-blooming bulbs up in the fall after the foliage dies, gently brush off any soil and debris, and dry them. Store somewhere dark and cool (40–50°) in dry peat or sawdust, then replant in spring. You can also grow them in pots and relocate as the weather dictates.
You may want to try leaving the bulbs in the ground if you’re gardening somewhere warmer than Maine.
Crocosmia: Zone 6.
Gladiolus: Zone 6; maybe Zone 5 with heavy snow cover.