How To Grow Gladioli And Extend Their Vase life!

The fabulously flamboyant Gladioli! The louder than life flower that demands to be seen! Loved by Gardeners and florists the world over. These perennial beauties, affectionately known as ‘Glads’ are easy to grow and make wonderful cut flowers. Here’s how I grow mine…


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Gladioli History

Gladiolus flowers are a member of the Iris family (Iridaceae). They originated in South Africa, but during the 18th century they were shipped for the first time to Europe via the Indian Trade Route. Once in the UK the first hybridised Gladioli flowers were produced and sold by nurseryman James Colville in 1823.

Named for their Shape and appearance, the name Gladiolus is from the latin word gladius, meaning sword. Aptly named, as in the past, Gladioli were once called sword Lilies.

American Fame!

Gladioli became a prominent flower in America during the late 19th centuries. The American people fell hard for this unique flower, so much so they even gave it, its own club! The Gladiolus Society formed in 1910 in Boston, which began with 75 members. The aim of the society was to explore and encourage the cultivation of Gladiolus for future generations to enjoy.

Soon after in 1926 the Brits founded their own Gladioli Club! They named it The British Gladiolus society which is still thriving today!

The British Gladiolus Society is an international society whose aims are to promote interest in the cultivation, breeding and improvement of the gladiolus. Gladioli are very popular, being both beautiful and colourful. They are easily grown in the garden in the borders, or used for cut flowers for the house. They also make excellent exhibition flowers, perhaps starting off at a local show and eventually taking part in the major shows.

The British Gladioli Society

Gladioli pink

Gladioli Characteristics

Since the first 7 varieties of Gladiolis were first discovered in South Africa, there is now more than 250 species of Gladioli! They vary in Height and colour but for the most part, they produce: sword-shaped green upright leaves and funnel-shaped flowers that bloom from summer into Autumn.

Why we Love Glads!

  • There is a colour for every Mood!
  • They make wonderful Cut flowers!
  • Flamboyant and Bold!
  • Perfect gifts for Special Occasions
  • Add colour and height to flower beds
  • Pollinators love them!
  • Grow equally well in pots

How To Extend The Vase life of Gladioli

Gladiolus make wonderful cut flowers! And in order to witness their beauty for as long as possible, here’s a few tips to make Gladioli last longer in the vase…

  • Pick stems while in bud but before they have bloomed
  • Cut gladioli Stems at a 45° angle. Cutting stems this way increases the surface area of the inside of the stem, which allows the flowers to draw in more water.
  • Keep the vase environment clean by replacing the water every 2-3 days
  • Continue to trim the stems every 2-3 days at a 45° angle
  • Some Species of Gladioli are overly sensitive to fluoride found in water, remedy this by adding flower food to the water
  • Remove lower flowers as they fade to encourage the upper flowers on the stem to open.

*Your Gladioli could last upto 2 weeks by following the above tips

Pink Gladioli


Planting Gladioli Bulbs Direct

  • Gladioli Bulbs should be planted directly ideally April/May after all risk of frost has passed( The very latest you can plant gladioli bulbs is July – any later than that and they won’t flower in time before the first frosts arrive)
  • Plant bulbs 4-6″ inch deep in a full sun/partial shade spot in well drained soil
  • Plant in groups for a full flamboyant show!

Starting Gladioli Bulbs off Indoors

gladiolus bulbs

Here’s why I like to Start Gladioli Bulbs off indoors:

  1. Gladioli bulbs are a tasty food treat for rats and mice and sometimes when I plant them in the ground, they unfortunately go missing! (A little Heads up-Rodents love Crocus bulbs too) I’ve found that when I start them off indoors and later plant them out with a plume of foliage, it really puts the mini beasts off!
  2. I dont know if im just unlucky, but I find that some of my Gladioli Bulbs just dont grow at all! The only way ive found to guarantee an abundant show is by first forcing the Gladioli bulbs indoors then planting them out

Starting Gladioli Bulbs off In compost

  • Fill a container with good quality damp compost, around 4 weeks before last frost date. Press the gladiolus bulbs into the soil, with the pointed side facing upwards.
  • Place on a sunny windowsill. Keep the compost damp but not soaked to encourage development.
  • Once a healthy Plume of foliage has developed plant out in a sunny spot after all risk of frost has passed. * Be sure to harden off indoor raised plants before planting out.

gladioli bulbs

gladioli bulbs

Gladioli Befor Bloom

Starting Gladioli Bulbs off In water

  • Around 4 weeks before the last frost date add around 1/4 inch of water to the bottom of a shallow bowl (enough to cover the base of the Gladioli Bulbs)
  • Place the Gladioli bulbs in the bowl, pointed side upwards.
  • Place on a sunny windowsill
  • Once a healthy Plume of foliage has developed plant out in a sunny spot after all risk of frost has passed. * Be sure to harden off indoor raised plants before planting out.

What Does Hardening Off Mean?
Plants raised indoors or in a greenhouse environment, need to be acclimatised to cooler temperatures and increased air movement for about two to three weeks before they are planted outdoors permanently. This is a ‘toughening up’ practice to prepare the plants for their new environment.

How to Harden Off
Place your plants out for a couple of hours in a shady part of the garden. The next day, leave them out again for two hours, but this time allow the plants an hour of direct sunshine in the morning. Gradually continue to increase the length of time the plants are in direct sunshine over the course of roughly two weeks.

Gladioli water Requirements

In general, you should aim to water Gladiolus plants once or twice a week. It is important to not let the soil dry out completely, as this can lead to the wilting of the plant and may even cause the plant to die.


Absolutely! In fact Gladioli grow exceptionally well in containers, pack them in for a full display!


Here’s how I do it…After the Gladioli blooms are spent, cut off the flower heads. BUT, leave the foliage to die back naturally- no tidying up until the very end of the season! This is because the leaves feed the bulb, providing much needed nourishment for next years blooms.

Warning! GLADIOLi FLOWERS and your pets

Like Lilies, Tulips and Irises, Gladioli can be poisonous when ingested by Cats and Dogs. So be sure to grow them away from the reach of your beloved pets. Ingestion may cause serious illness.




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  1. Laura April 19, 2024
    • Kelly April 20, 2024

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