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Gladiolus planting and growing

Gladiolus. - Of summer and fall-blooming bulbous plants, gladiolus is probably the most widely popular. The colors range from scarlet and purple, to white, rose, and pure yellow. The plants are of slender, erect habit, growing from 2 to 3 feet high.

Gladioli dislike a heavy clay soil. A light loam or sandy soil suits them best. No fresh manure should be added to the soil the year in which they are grown. They should have a new place every year, if possible, and always an open sunny situation.

The corms may be covered 2 inches deep in heavy soils, and 4 to 6 in light soils. They may stand 8 to 10 inches apart, or half this distance for mass effects. For a succession, they may be planted at short intervals, the earliest planting being of smaller corms in the early spring as soon as the soil is dry enough to work; later the larger are to be planted - the last setting being not later than the Fourth of July. This last planting will afford fine late flowers. The plants should be supported by inconspicuous stakes.

The successive plantings may be in the same bed among those set earlier, or they may be grouped in unoccupied nooks, or portions of the border. The plants may stand as close as 6 inches from each other. The earlier planting may be a foot apart to admit of later settings between.

Late in the fall, after frosts and before freezing, the corms are to be dug, cleaned, and dried in the sun and air for a few hours and then stored away in boxes about 2.5 inches deep in a cool, dark, and dry place. The tops should be left on, at least till completely shriveled. The varieties are perpetuated and multiplied by the little corms that appear about the base of the large new corm which is formed each year. These small corms may be taken off in the spring and sown thickly in drills. Many of them will make flowering plants by the second season. They are treated like the large corms, in the fall.

Gladioli are easily grown from seed also, but this method cannot be depended on to perpetuate desirable varieties, which can be reproduced only by the cormels. Some of the best flowers may be cross-pollinated, or allowed to form seed in the usual manner; the seed sown thickly in drills, and shaded till the plantlets appear, then carefully cultivated, will afford a crop of small corms in the fall. These may be stored for the winter, like the other young corms, and, like them, many will flower the second season, affording a great variety and quite likely some new and striking kinds. Those that do not flower should be reserved for further trial. They often prove finer than those first to flower.

Early-flowering varieties of gladioli may be forced for late winter or spring bloom.

For bouquets, cut the spike when the lower flowers open; keep in fresh water, cut off the end of the stem frequently, and the other flowers will expand.