The Q&A Archives: Non-Blooming Gladiolus

Question: I purchased 8 gladiolus bulbs from a garden center in March and planted them in large pots. They grew to about 2-3 feet and never grew flower stalks. I have never grown gladiolus so I kept hoping they would grow flower stalks, but now some of the plants have turned brown and died. When are they supposed to sprout the flower stalks and why did my plants not?

Answer: Gladiolus can bloom from spring to fall, depending upon kind. They like full sunshine and average soil, with regular watering during the spring and summer months. The problems with your glads might be how they were stored, when and how they were planted, and what kind of aftercare they've been given. Obviously, if you planted mishandled corms, the results, as disappointing as they were, were typical.

Standard garden variety gladiolus corms can be planted November through March in your gardening region. If planted every two weeks, you'll have a succession of blooms. Glads normally bloom 65-100 days after planting. If you planted January - March, the corms sould have had time to bloom before the weather got too hot for them.

Glad corms should be planted about four times as deep as they are wide, and spaced 4"-6" apart. The soil should be amended with organic matter prior to planting, to provide nutrients and to help the soil retain just the right amount of moisture. A sunny site and weekly watering will produce healthy foliage and flowering stalks.

If your glads were planted at the proper depth, given ample water and sunshine, and still died before flowering, I'd suspect the corms were mistreated or stored improperly before you purchased them.

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