Also called Sword Lily and named for their sword-like leaves; a gladiolus is a small Roman sword.
Plant corms 4–6" deep and 6" apart after the last spring frost.
Each stalk blooms for about a week, roughly 8 weeks after planting. Stagger plantings for flowers from summer to frost.
Hilling or staking may be needed if their sword-shaped foliage and 3–4' flower spikes get top heavy. Cut when 2–3 flowers have opened, taking care to spare the leaves, which feed the developing corm.
Dig up the corms after the tops have died, discard the old one, clean the new one, dry, and store loose (no peat moss) in a cool dry place.
• Click here for info about thrips.
Tender Summer Bulbs
Spring-planted bulbs offer wonderful variety to the cutflower market and are a staple in old-fashioned gardens. Once upon a time, back roads beckoned my mother to spend many a summer Sunday in search of the best deal on roadside dahlias, glads and lilies. Every few miles she would find buckets brimming with blooms for 10¢ a stem. Nowadays it’s more like $1. 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
Spring-planted summer-blooming bulbs, corms and tubers will not survive northern winters outdoors. To save them for next year, dig them 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. Zone ratings:
Anemone - Z7.
Crocosmia - Z6.
Gladiolus - Z6; maybe Z5 with heavy snow cover.
Acidanthera - Z7.