Storing Gladioli

Keep your favorite varieties year after year by  Gladioli over winter in a frost free environment.

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 to 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 the UK. They will need protecting during the winter months.

Winter storage of Gladioli corms

The method I use each year to overwinter my gladioli:

  1. Gently unearth the corns at the hint of the first light frosts, 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 shriveled 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 ‘bulb-lets’. 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 into a net bag and hang in a dry, frost-free room.
  9. Check your gladioli corms regularly and pick out and discard any rotten ones.

You’ll be able to plant out your gladioli next spring. I like to give mine a head start in the greenhouse in pots of compost in early March.

More information from the RHS about over-wintering gladioli and other tender plants.

James Middleton

An obsessive gardener since 1982. Day-time job - web designer and developer and University lecturer.

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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