Gladiolus and Caladiums
One of spring and summer's favorite flowers
from bulbs are the Gladiolus and caladiums are favorite plants
grown from bulbs during the spring and summer. If you haven't
tried growing gladiolus and caladiums in recent years, then
you're in for a pleasant surprise-and a real treat!. Today's
modern gladiolus and caladiums have been vastly improved in
color, size, beauty, and performance.
Gladiolus can be planted most everywhere. They
are especially impressive when combined with other summer
annuals and perennials in the garden. They can be left alone
to grow in rows, or brighten up a corner of the vegetable
Unlike other kinds of flowers, gladiolus take
up very little space in your garden. You can plant one dozen
or several dozen bulbs in a row, or group them in clusters
for a massed effect. A small area devoted to gladiolus can
produce a bounty of beautiful blooms.
In gladiolus, you'll find nearly any color
to suit your fancy -- from shades of pure white, cream, and
pink to bizarre combinations of tan and brown. Or how about
green or blue?
While the tall?growing, large?flowered types
are extremely popular, the relatively new miniatures or tiny
tots (as they are sometimes called) are creating excitement
in the gardening world. They yield profuse numbers of spikes,
2 ½ to 3 feet tall, each with 15 to 20 dainty flowers
measuring 2 to 2 ½ inches across.
No matter which gladiolus you prefer, be sure
to choose quality bulbs. You'll be happier in the long run
and when they bloom, you'll agree that you got your money's
Here are some cultural tips for gladiolus:
Where to plant: Anywhere there is full sunlight
most of the day, in a row or bed, or in clumps among other
flowers and vegetables. Avoid planting them close to buildings
or large trees.
Depth and distance apart: Plant large bulbs
5 or 6 inches deep and about the same distance apart.
Cultivation and watering: Keep well cultivated
and weeded. Don't cultivate too deep or you may damage the
root system. Use lots of water if drainage is good. Deep soakings
are preferred to light sprinklings. Gladiolus prefer at least
one inch of rainfall or supplemental watering per week. Don't
under estimate the value of water to gladiolus. They need
it to grow well.
Caladiums bulbs should be handled much like
gladiolus, except that they grow best in the shade. Most people
rush out and purchase caladiums and gladiolus as soon as bulbs
are available, when the selection is better! Well, the selection
IS better but the soil is too cold and the expensive bulbs
will rot rather than grow. Buy now, but wait until April to
Flamboyant foliage is the hallmark of the caladium.
Lush as the Amazon jungles of their origin, caladiums can
add a unique tropical flair to summer gardens anywhere in
the country. The leaves attain their fullest size and deepest
colors when grown in shady spots where filtered or only morning
sun is available.
"Fancy Leaf" caladiums are the most
useful in home landscapes. Derived from Caladium bicolor,
a Brazilian species, the broad, heart-shaped foliage is usually
a riot of pink, red, white and green splotches. Some varieties
are solid red, or white with a deep-green trim along the veins
and outer edges. The pinkish flowers are short?lived, but
leaves remain fresh and vibrant all summer long if you select
the best varieties and plant them in a shady location.
"Lance Leaf" caladiums, derived from
Caladium picturantum, are smaller and more compact. Their
pretty, ruffle-edged foliage seem tailor?made for window boxes
and patio planters.
The foliage sprouts from bulb?like tubers.
Caladiums tolerate most soils, but perform best in earth that
is richly organic. If soil is sandy or heavy with clay, spade
in peat moss or compost at planting time.
Place tubers bud side up in furrows or individual
holes 9 to 15 inches apart. Cover with 3 inches of soil, tamping
firmly around each tuber to eliminate air pockets. Water immediately.
Thereafter, moisten only when the soil surface becomes dry.
A 2 to 3-inch mulch of wood chips, ground bark or other organic
material helps retain soil moisture and discourages weeds.
Want to try something sadistic on your caladium
bulbs this year? Try cutting their eyes out! What a sick idea!
But the result will be more leaf shoots. Remember, leaves
of brightly colored foliage are what caladiums are all about.
Just take a sharp spoon or knife and scoop or cut off all
of the apparent eyes or buds on the tubers before planting.
Such a procedure delays emergence for a few days but it causes
the tuber to sprout more dormant buds rather than the fewer
main buds. The result is an abundance of foliage rather than
a few shoots. Try a few and leave some with their eyes uncut.
See which provides the better results.
Depending upon soil conditions, the first leaves
break soil 3 to 6 weeks after planting, setting shaded areas
aglow. Keep the caladiums growing by applying fertilizer around
emerging plants. A good rule of thumb is 2 pounds of 10-10-5
per 100 square feet of planting bed. Re-apply monthly. As
plants fill out, a liquid fertilizer drench may be more convenient.
Standard houseplant food suffices for container-grown caladiums.
If you want to try to save the tubers for planting
next spring, dig them in the fall and store them for spring
replanting. When foliage begins to yellow and daytime temperatures
drop and remain below 60 degrees F, the time is right to dig
caladium tubers. Air dry tubers for several days on a flat
sunny surface. Allow leaves to fall off by themselves. This
way they keep supplying tubers with needed nutrients.
Store tubers in dry peat moss or dry sand.
Choose a well- ventilated spot where temperatures remain ideally
between 70 and 75 degrees F. Do not refrigerate. Within 8
weeks, new growth may sprout, indicating tubers are healthy
and prepared in advance for spring garden action.
Plan to beautify your landscape with gladiolus
and caladiums this year.