DARREL KOEHLER: The Prairie Gardener — Giddy Glads

August is a wonderful time for gardeners. Much of the heavy lifting is done for another year, and we can claim our rewards.

One of those rewards is the beautiful gladiolus we have in many of our gardens. Few flowers have so much to offer. Every garden should have glads!

According to Steve Sagaser, Grand Forks County horticulturist, glads range from 2 to 5 feet tall with trumpet-shaped blooms. They are formed in a double row along the stem.

Gladiolus come in a wide range of colors from near black to white with just about every shade of the rainbow in between. Besides the large color assortment, many hybrids have ruffled, waved and frilly petals.

Gladiolus are easy grow. First, dig a trench or furrow about 6 inches deep. Then place corms (underground plant stem) in the soil about 6 inches apart and cover. This will keep the plants from tipping in a strong wind. If you fertilize, use an all-purpose fertilizer such as 8-8-8.

If you start with a dozen or so corms in spring, you could have lots in a few years to share with family and friends.

Gladiolus bloom from early August through September — and even later. They need sun, lots of water and well-drained soil. If you space your glads when planting, you can stagger the blooming period. You then will be able to enjoy continuous color all summer long.

Corms must be dug each fall after a killing or hard frost and be stored in a cool, dry spot such as an unheated basement. (They don’t require any special care in winter.) Then, in the spring, you set them back in the garden for another season of beauty.

A popular event at the Minnesota State Fair is the gladiolus show. It takes an hour or more just to make a quiet check of the different arrangements and colors offered by the wonderful flowers.

Next week: More glad tips.

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