Gladiolus tristis

Jane McGary
Sun, 17 May 2009 14:49:10 PDT
Kasthleen asked,

>I see many people use the word invasive to mean a plant that
>successfully sets seed and spreads around when in fact this is an
>example of naturalization, one step beyond establishment (thriving in
>the original spot of introduction).
>So in the Garden, Paul, is Gladiolus tristis a determined and
>dominant thug of the invasive variety, or a very successful naturalizer?

It's difficult to see how this plant could be dominant, since its 
foliage is very thin and sparse, and quite tall and erect, and even 
in the favorable conditions of my bulb frames it doesn't form dense 
clumps. It sometimes overwinters in my garden, but I see no sign of 
it in the open this spring, after a winter low of 17 F (minus 12 C). 
Where hardy, as it's likely to be for Kathleen on the Oregon coast, 
it would be suitable for interplanting among medium-height perennials 
and dwarf shrubs. It is also a superb cut flower, releasing its 
fragrance mainly in the evening even when brought indoors.

Obviously I've never seen G. tristis appear in undisturbed ground 
here, although a few other bulbs from my collection have, primarily 
Crocus and Muscari species, which will grow in rough pasture grass. 
Crocus could not become dominant, though the presence of C. 
tommasinianus in lawns annoys some gardeners. Muscari can dominate 
small areas by choking the soil with its many offset bulbs, but its 
foliage is short enough not to smother nearby plants (except in the 
rock garden), and is also eaten by deer and rabbits.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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