We planted gladiolus in the ground and in containers this summer. I’ve heard they need to be dug up and stored over the winter. Really?
Gladiolus are tender summer-flowering plants that grow from corms, and where you live will probably determine whether to dig them up or not. Here in Middle Tennessee (Zone 7a), the recommendation from the University of Tennessee Extension is to dig up and dry the corms after the foliage dies back and before a heavy frost, but the truth is, most gardeners I talk to here leave the corms in the ground and they usually survive.
In colder areas, they should be dug and stored. The Web site of the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service (in Indiana) for example, says that gladiolus corms should be dug after frost. Dig the corms by loosening the soil so that you can pull the plant out of the ground. Shake off the loose soil and allow the corms to dry in the sun for a day or two. Cut the foliage off 1 – 2 inches above the corms and store them in a cool, dry place.
Plant the corms again after the soil has warmed up, in late April or May. By planting in two-week intervals between May and July, you can have a succession of blooms for several weeks beginning about mid-summer.
Winter in the garden: Gardening tasks slow down in winter, but there is always something to keep a gardener busy and entertained. Check the Winter Garden Calendar and Garden tips & tasks at Tennessean.com to see what’s happening.
Garden events in Middle Tennessee
Dec. 8: Live greenery makes excellent holiday decor. Create your own for mailbox or door at a hands-on workshop at Cheekwood. Advance registration required; $30 for members, $40 for nonmembers. www.cheekwood.org.
Dec. 13: Learn when and how to grow a beautiful organic garden during All About Gardening with naturalist Deb Beazley, 9 – 10:30 a.m. at Warner Park Nature Center. Call to register for this adults-only class, 615-352-6299.
Dec. 21: Winter Solstice. Celebrate the shortest day of the year (and the return to longer days) at WarnerParkNatureCenter, where you can watch the sunset and walk through the woods along a luminary-lit pathway, make a wreath, hear a presentation by an astronomer and enjoy other first-day-of-winter activities. The all-ages program is led by Shannon Moore and Melissa Donahue, is 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. call to register, 615- 352-6299.