Wednesday, September 16, 2015

When should I dig my gladiolus bulbs?

Picture of a gladiolus corm

Q. When should I dig my gladiolus bulbs?

A. As you probably know, "glads", as they are sometimes called, are native to Africa, Asia and southern Europe. Though cold hardy from USDA climate zone 7 through 11, they can be grown practically anywhere in the United States. In northern zones, they can be grown as inexpensive summer annuals, or they can be dug, stored over winter, and replanted in spring when danger of frost is past. In southern zones, they can be left in the ground and should come back year after year.

Gladiolus corms should be left in the ground until their leaves turn brown. Frost might brown them, or they might brown all by themselves by late summer.

Begin digging by loosening the soil on both sides of the row. Lift the corms gently. Take care not to dig too closely to the corms so as to avoid damaging them with the spade or garden fork.

Remove the foliage, leaving very little if any at the tops. Spread the corms in a dry location exposed to full sun for a day, then remove them to an airy location out of the sun to dry further. You may spread them on layers of newspaper. Some gardeners construct tables or trays with mesh bottoms for drying. Such structures can serve to dry other bulbs and corms after harvest. Stir the corms to allow all sides to dry, especially during damp weather. You may even expose them to an electric fan. Dried soil should fall away during the process. Remaining soil should be brushed off before final storage.

During cleaning, the corms may be inspected. Those that are damaged or diseased should be discarded.

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