Gladiolus cultivation

Mary Sue Ittner
Mon, 17 Mar 2008 08:06:07 PDT
Dear Dell,

As you can see from some of the responses you have gotten there is a wide 
difference in which Gladiolus can be grown successfully outside depending 
on where you live. There are tropical species and there are species that 
are covered with snow in winter. There are species that have rainfall year 
round and some that get most of their rain in winter or summer. There are 
species subjected to hot temperatures in summer and species where the 
temperatures are mild year round. There are species that occur where the 
rainfall is very low (and I suspect some years when rainfall is so low 
don't even show up) and  species growing where there is abundant rainfall 
during their growing season. Throw in the different kinds of soil they grow 
in and it becomes even more complex. So to grow these successfully it may 
first have to do with choosing the right species for your conditions. A 
species that has naturalized for me, Gladiolus carmineus, is described as 
growing very close to the ocean as I do. I've shared it with my friend Bob 
Werra who lives two hours away and inland and he does not have the same 

Joyce's comment that winter growers don't do well where she lives in 
Gresham, Oregon may not have to do with the rainfall, but with the 
temperatures where she lives or with species selection. There are southwest 
Cape species that get more rainfall than she gets and I can grow many 
winter rainfall species successfully and my annual winter rainfall is 
greater than the amount she gets. Where I live we have a big problem with 
thrips that turn the leaves of many of the native plants silver in summer. 
(not an attractive silver). I might be able to grow summer rainfall species 
if I wanted to keep them dry in winter and water them in summer, but then 
I'd have to contend with the thrips which don't usually bother the winter 
growers. I've found a lot of the species I grow are happy in my raised beds 
growing in 9 to 10 inch deep pots.

I've not always had success in germinating seed, but Diane Whitehead shared 
her technique with me and I did some tests with some seed I had a lot of 
and in the future am going to switch to her method. I'll leave it up to her 
to share it.

I'm in the process of expanding the Southern Africa Gladiolus pages on the 
wiki and adding a lot more pictures (going from 4 pages to 9) of current 
species and adding some new species as well. I've worked on it a little 
every day for quite a few weeks now and I'm almost ready to add all this to 
the wiki. It's interesting that this corresponds with the current thread.

Mary Sue

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