Storing Gladioli

The following article lists the best method for storing Gladioli bulbs in a frost-free environment and protecting them for continuous blooms year after year.

The Gladioli, or Sword Lily as they are sometimes called, should have a place in any garden.  There are plenty of amazing colours and forms available; they will readily add form and dazzle even the most conservative garden.

Historically, the British gardener has always revered this excellent perennial flower. Unfortunately, our climate is not so accepting. They grow from bulb-like corms and are not hardy in most parts of the UK. They will need some protection during the winter months.

Winter storage of Gladioli corms

The method I use each year to overwinter my gladioli is:

  1. Gently unearth the corns at the hint of the first light frost, tapping off as much soil as possible.
  2. Break up the clump into individual plants.
  3. Cut back the stems to within a couple of centimetres of the gladioli corm.
  4. Break off the old corm; you will see this at the base, where the roots start. It is usually shrivelled and dead-looking.
  5. Gently clean off any soil and remove dead skin around the corm.
  6. Discard any gladioli corms that look rotten or diseased.
  7. Keep back and pot up the small, shot-like ‘bulblets’. In a couple of years, these will replace your current corms, once they have gone past their peak. Place them in a frost-free room.
  8. Place your clean corms in a net bag and hang them in a dry, frost-free room.
  9. Check your gladioli corms regularly, and pick out and discard any rotten ones.

Other Methods for Storing Gladioli Bulbs Overwinter

If you live in the southernmost regions of England, where frosts are typically mild, consider mulching your gladioli bulbs each autumn. This entails covering the bulbs with a layer of used compost or straw, which can provide insulation and protection during the winter months. In the spring, the mulch can be gently removed, allowing the new growth to thrive.

After discovering your gladioli bulbs, you’ll be ready to plant them in the upcoming spring season. A recommended method for giving these vibrant blooms a head start is to pot them in a greenhouse. Plant your gladioli bulbs in pots filled with nutrient-rich compost in early March, before the full bloom of spring. This method not only nurtures their early development but also provides an ideal environment for their future development.

More information from the RHS about over-wintering gladioli and other tender plants. You may also be interested in my other articles on overwintering tender perennials, such as Dahlias and Begonias.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Christine Holmes

    If grown in containers can you just move the container into a frost free area? and then bring out the pot the next spring? and can you do this with dahlias also? Thanks

  2. James Middleton

    Hi Christine,

    Possible. It will depend where you live. I live in Devon and all I do is cover my tubers with a little hay or spent compost over winter. For containers, it might be a good idea to keep them in a dark, dry place over winter. Don’t water. In spring, before they are due to come up, try and replace as much of the compost from the container as you can, without disturbing the tubers. Then, bring them into a greenhouse or conservatory and gradually harden off and place outside when danger of frost has past.

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