Flowering stalks of gladioli (gladioluses, gladiolas or glads) may be cut when they are blooming. The flowers at the bottom of the stalk bloom first, and continue upward. It's best to cut gladioli when two or three of the lower flowers have fully opened. The best time of day to cut gladiolus stems is in the morning. You'll need sharp, clean clippers and a vessel of cool water. Place the stems in the water immediately after cutting to prevent the flowers from wilting. If you leave some flowering gladiolus stalks in your garden, cut them back as soon as the last flower fades.
Gladiolus leaves should remain on the plant until late summer as fall approaches. This will allow the plant to store food reserves in the corm, and to produce new corms. Eventually, the leaves will begin to look yellow and worn. Then you can prune the gladiolus leaves to ground-level. Remove the cut leaves to your compost bin.
If you live in a warm climate zone, you may leave the corms in the ground during winter. If you live in a cool climate zone, carefully dig the gladiolus corms before frost. If you have particular varieties, sort and label them. While sorting the corms, check them for firmness. Discard gladiolus corms that are soft. You'll notice that the corms are covered with a papery tissue. Do not remove it. Brush off any remaining soil. Store the gladiolus corms over winter in a cool, dark place where the temperature is about 40 degrees F.
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