Winter care of gladioli

glad corms jan

No they are not bulbs – they are corms! Although hardly important on a geopolitical scale the difference between bulbs and corms is important. Corms are swollen stem tissue and they are replaced each year with the new corm forming above the older one. Bulbs are (usually) perennial and get bigger or offset each year and the swollen part is comprised of leaves. So when you lift gladioli (which is advisable) you should find one (or maybe more) new corm with the stem attached. The old corm helped sustain the growth of the new shoot on top of the corm and a new one forms. When you lift them you usually find an old, shrivelled corm at the base which can be snapped off immediately and then the corms should be dried off and kept in an airy, frost-free place to dry off completely. When they are dried off you can snap off the old stem and any dead skins and roots and get them ready for replanting which can take place at any time from March to May. Quite often, as seen here, there are lots of tiny cormlets around the base of the corm. In theory these can be used to increase your stock and, with good care, they should flower within two years, but there are usually far too many than you need and they are best discarded unless you decide to keep a few of the larger ones. A word of warning though – if you have grown a mixture, make sure you take a few cormlets from all the corms and not just the ones that have the most cormlets because the chances are that the colours you like least will be the ones that are most productive!

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