The Q&A Archives: Gladiolas not blooming properly.

Question: I have planted about 50 glad bulbs and about 20 Peacock orchids, the leaves have sprouted and are blooming. The blooms are brownish and the glad blooms are malformed. The leaves have white and brown splotches. Do they have a disease and how do I get rid of it?

Answer: It sounds like damage from thrips. This insect is very small and seldom seen as it feeds in hidden places. It does considerable damage, especially to the flowers. It works on the buds before they emerge from the sheaths and causes malformed and spotted flowers. Thrips may overwinter on the corms, so proper digging and storage will help you avoid the problem next year.

Corms are ready to dig in four to six weeks after blooms are finished or when the tops die off. They can be dug anytime before a hard freeze. Healthy plants should be left in the soil as long as possible so there is ample time for maximum development of the corms.

After digging, wash off soil that adheres to the corm and roots. Cut the tops to within one-half inch of the corm. Corms can be left outdoors in the sun for a day or two if the temperatures are mild, and then spread out in a light, airy place to cure. They are cured to get the surplus moisture out of the husks and corms as quickly as possible to prevent storage rots. After two to three weeks of drying, remove the old corm from the base. Sort the corms and cormels according to size. The small cormels can be saved and planted the following year, but remember it will take two to three years to produce a blooming-size corm from them.

Corms should be stored during the winter at a temperature of 35 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit in a well-ventilated area. Airy containers such as loose-weave baskets, mesh bags or old nylon stockings make good containers that may be hung out of the way.

To eliminate the thrips, you can dip or soak your corms in Lysol; 4 teaspoons per gallon of water is the recommended rate. Soak the corms for 6 hours. Dry corms before storage. If you dip in the spring, plant the corms immediately after treatment.

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