When I first tried growing gladiolus, it took a long time until I started seeing some growth. It had me questioning if the bulb was growing at all! That’s when I decided to do some research to figure out how long it took Gladiolus bulbs to spout.
Gladiolus bulbs take about three to five weeks to sprout. This depends on the size of the bulb and the specific variety you are growing. And it takes about 70 to 90 days for the gladiolus flowers to bloom after planting.
There’s a lot more information you need to know when trying to grow gladiolus in your garden. Keep reading to find out how you can get the best results after planting the bulbs.
Planting gladiolus bulbs is one of the easiest ways to add some pops of color to your garden. The gladiolus plant is unique in the fact that it grows vertically. Rather than sprouting massive lateral branches, these plants look like tall blades of grass before they start blooming.
When Does Gladiolus Sprout?
When your gladiolus bulb will sprout depends entirely on when you plant them. Before the bulb can start producing growth, it needs to come out of dormancy and establish itself in the soil.
Bulbs are a unique mechanism that protects the plant in harsh conditions. When the temperatures drop, the plant will retreat. The bulb then acts as a food storage organ to help it survive dormancy.
Depending on where you live, you might need to dig up the bulbs to prevent damage caused by frost. Before you do that, the bulbs should fall back completely into the bulb. Generally, bulbs last for abouta year before they need to be replanted.
The Growth Process
Once you plant your gladiolus bulbs, several things happen. First, the bulb will sense that it’s time to start growing. They’re sensitive to temperature changes. Oftentimes, sunlight and warmth will trigger growth and bring the bulb out of dormancy.
After this happens, the bulb will start to sprout roots from the bottom. This is a critical step in the process.
The plant needs the roots to support further growth. Not only do they help gather the necessary nutrients, but they also provide a strong foundation for the plant. Gladiolus flowers can get to be as tall as five feet, so developing that anchor is crucial.
After the roots are developed, the plant will start to grow vertically.
Gladiolus flowers are a bit different than some other flower bulbs you might be familiar with. They do not require chilling before producing growth. That means that they will sprout shortly after the roots are established.
When Will the Sprout Emerge?
Generally, it will take three to five weeks before you start to see the green stem emerging from the soil. It may take longer than that depending on the size of the bulb and the specific gladiolus variety you have.
The stem will continue growing until the buds appear and blossom. It can take up to 90 days until the flower is ready for cutting.
When is the Best Time to Plant Gladiolus?
Gladiolus are summer-flowering plants. They require warm temperatures and plenty of sunlight to truly thrive.
The flowers do best in zones 7 to 10. In those regions, the plant is winter hardy. This means that you don’t have to dig it up at the end of the growing season.
Some cultivars will even naturalize. Over the years, the plant can multiply to cover a large area.
Contrary to popular belief, Gladiolus plants are not annuals. They’re often treated as such, but the plant is classified as a perennial. It can come back year after year without intervention if you live in a temperate climate.
Read more: How to Grow Beautiful Perennials in Your Garden
Now, if you live in areas above zone 7, you can still enjoy all this plant has to offer. In colder areas, you can treat gladiolus plants like annuals and prepare them for a summer of growth in early spring.
The Right Temperature
The best time to plant Gladiolus bulbs is in the early springs. You can wait until after the last frost. Or, you can plan accordingly and get them in the ground two weeks beforehand.
Light frost on the surface of the soil is not going to harm the bulbs below. Just make sure that the frost isn’t so severe that it freezes the soil where the bulb is.
Read More: How to protect your plants from a surprise cold weather
Planting a couple of weeks early can be advantageous. It will create more blossoming time in the summer.
Before planting, check the soil temperature. Ideally, soil temperatures should be around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Air temperatures can be between 50 and 77 degrees.
Planting the Bulbs
These plants do best in sandy loam that drains well. Work the soil a bit to get rid of any compacted chunks.
Then, dig a hole that’s two to six inches deep. The appropriate depth for your bulbs will depend on the size of the bulb itself. As a good rule of thumb, they should be placed about two to three times as deep as the bulbs are tall.
Should You Soak Gladiolus Bulbs Before Planting?
Soaking gladiolus bulbs is still a point of contention among gardeners. Some believe that you don’t need to take that extra step. Others feel like it’s a necessity.
Ultimately, soaking gladiolus bulbs is no requirement. You don’t need to soak the bulbs to see impressive growth.
That said, doing so might help you see sprouts sooner.
What is Soaking?
Soaking is a process that’s meant to speed up the germination rate. In many cases, it can save up to two or three weeks of growth time.
This technique is used for a wide variety of plants. It’s not just something that’s reserved for bulbs. Standard seeds can benefit from soaking, too.
When you soak a bulb or a seed, you’re breaking down its natural defenses. It softens the tougher outer shell, which is meant to protect the bulb during dormancy. Once that shell is penetrated, the core of the bulb can hydrate and start absorbing water.
Basically, you’re kick-starting the growth process. Instead of waiting a few weeks and watering the bulb when it’s in the soil, you’re giving it the boost of hydrating it needs. After soaking, the plant is triggered to start growing right away.
How to Soak Gladiolus Bulbs
Soaking is a pretty simple process. Start out by examining your bulbs. Whether you just purchased them from a nursery or you stored them over the winter, it’s important to examine the condition of the bulb before you start soaking.
If the bulb feels light and dry, it may need more soaking time to come out of dormancy. Meanwhile, a dense bulb will only need a light soaking.
For a light soak, submerge the bulb in water for about two hours. The water should be lukewarm. Do this on the same day you want to plant. Ideally, the bulb should go straight from the soaking bowl to the soil.
If you have lightweight bulbs, you might have to soak them for a full day. Keep an eye on the bulb and check it every few hours. You want to avoid soaking the bulb so much that it gets soft and mushy.
What is the Best Variety of Gladiolus to Plant?
There are more than 260 different gladiolus varieties out there to try out! You can even find hybrid varieties with unique colors and growth characteristics.
Gladiolus plants originate from South Africa and the Mediterranean. After it was brought to Europe, it quickly spread throughout the world. Today, the flower grows just about anywhere!
You can often find bulbs in gardening stores for a few bucks. Some nurseries also provide large bulb packs with a wide variety of colors.
Here are some of the most popular varieties that you can grow in your garden.
Yellowstone gladiolus flowers are a sight to behold! They can reach heights of five feet and produce beautiful yellow blossoms.
The flowers feature ruffled petals, giving the plant a romantic look. Best of all, blooms typically last about four weeks with proper care!
This variety’s blooms will only last about two weeks. But those blooming periods produce a lot of flowers.
Each stem can have up to 12 flowers, filling your yard up with crisp white color.
As the name would imply, these flowers take on a darker appearance. Instead of the bright yellow or white hues, Black Beauty gladiolus plants produce deep maroon flowers.
Fat Boy gladiolus plants produce vibrant red flowers. The flowers are large, covering up most of the stem. This is a good variety to use on centerpieces and arrangements.
Here’s a variety with some subtle detail. The main part of the flower is pure white. However, the tip of each petal has soft purple lines. This creates a soft hint of purple for every blossom.
If you want even more purple in your garden, the Purple Flora variety is a good choice. The flowers have a royal purple hue. Blossoms are also very large.
Parrot gladiolus plants come in a variety of colors. Often sold in mixes, the most standout feature of the blossom is the contrasting white throat.
Here are some of my favorite container gardening tools
Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helps you with your gardening needs. I’ve listed some tools below that can help you with container gardening. These are affiliate links so I’ll earn a commission if you use them.
Gardening Gloves – I find the Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Gardening Gloves really good for both men and women. It’s made from bamboo so helps absorb perspiration. They are also comfortable and fit very well.
Containers – You know picking the right container is crucial for your container gardening. I’ve written a detailed post on the best containers you can choose from. If you’re happy with a plastic container, you can check out the Bloem Saturn Planter.
Watering Can – This is a must-have tool when you’re growing plants in pots or grow bags. It helps to water the potting soil without splashing on the foliage. The Kensington Watering Can is stylish, strong, and can provide precision when watering potted plants.
Trowel – Garden Guru Trowel is my favorite because it’s durable and comfortable to use. My gardening friends really love having a trowel because they use it for digging soil, mixing fertilizer, moving seeds, leveling out the soil, mixing compost or mulch, and also dividing tubers
Bypass Pruner – I really like the Corona Bypass Pruner because it’s durable and gives a clean cut that helps plants recover faster. If you’re looking for something cheap, get the Fiskars Bypass Pruner that is really good as well.
To see an extensive list of the best container gardening tools gardeners recommend, check out this resource that I made for you.
Kevin is the founder of Gardening Mentor, a website that aims to teach people to grow their own food in a limited space. As a self-taught gardener, Kevin has spent several years growing plants and creating gardening content on the website. He is certified in Home Horticulture and Organic Gardening by expert gardeners from Oregon State University.