The Q&A Archives: Gladioli Woes

Question: Last fall I took all my gladiolus bulbs out of the ground and stored them for the winter. I replanted them at different intervals so they would not all bloom at once. Now some of them are coming up but they are all brown and the buds don't want to open and when they do they are all discolored and brown looking. What could have caused this?
I bought some new ones also and don't know which were which.

Answer: There are a number of potential causes for the poor performance of your glads. Storage conditions might have been less than ideal - perhaps too cold, too warm, too dry or too damp to suit them. Or, they may have developed a fungal infection after being planted. It's also possible that thrips have invaded the plants. Finally, perhaps the growing conditions do not meet their requirements.

With that said, let's try to determine the cause through the process of elimination. Glad corms should be stored in a cool (40F-50F), dark, airy location. Storage conditions that are too warm can stunt or deform foliage and flowers. If you think the storage conditions were correct, we'll go on to growing conditions:

Glads thrive in full sunshine, in average to rich soils. A complete fertilizer should be incorporated into the soil prior to planting but the corms should not come in direct contact with fertilizer granules. The corms should be planted about four times deeper than their height, spaced 6" apart, and watered regularly throughout the growing season.

Finally, infestations of thrips can cause browning leaves, browning buds and sticky corms. Thrips are tiny insects with rasping mouthparts, and females can lay up to 200 eggs so it doesn't take long for a population surge. If your plants are completely infected, it might be best to destroy them and start anew next season.

Hope the above offers clues as to what might be happening to your glads.

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