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Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247

Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
Please click map for more detailed map and driving directions.

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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 patch.

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 worth.

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 plant.

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.