The Q&A Archives: Gladiolas

Question: I have just moved into a home and this spring many gladiolas came up but are not blooming so are they any good anymore? They have been in the ground about 10 years or so with nothing done with them. What to do?

Answer: Gladiolas bloom in the summer, and do not usually come up until a bit later in the spring. I suspect you may have some other spring flowering bulbs such as tulips or daffodils if they are already growing. Perhaps a neighbor will remember what they are. Daffodils are often very long lived while tulips tend to dwindle away.

You might wait and see a little longer in case they do bloom this spring. In the meantime, you could sprinkle a little general purpose granular fertilizer on the soil right around them, such as 10-10-10.

If they do not bloom later this spring, and if you want to save them, you can try. Bulbs often stop blooming if they are in too much shade, if the soil fertility is poor, or if they have become too crowded together. Replanting them can help.

Let the foliage grow until it turns yellow and dries up all on its own. When that happens, cut the old leaves off and then dig up the bulbs. At that point you can replant them immediately, or save them to plant in the fall.

To save them for planting in the fall, shake off the soil and let them air dry for a few days. Then store in a dark, dry place such as the garage. Keep them in a single layer in a paper bag or cardboard box, not in a plastic bag. Replant in October.

Most bulbs grow best in a spot that is sunny all day long and where the soil is well drained, meaning not a low, soggy spot. When you replant, loosen the soil below the bulb. Plant them four to six inches apart. Plant them with about four inches of soil above the top of the bulb. After planting, water to settle the soil, then mulch over top. Look for foliage the next spring. If the bulbs have become very small and weak, they may not bloom until the second year in the new location.

Good luck with your bulbs!

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