How to Plant Gladiolus in Containers

Written by jennifer cruz
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How to Plant Gladiolus in Containers
Blooming gladiolus with dew drops. (gladiolus. image by Anna Chelnokova from

Gladiolus, commonly called glads, grow in containers quite easily, even those started by beginner gardeners. Gladiolus bring colour and beauty to any area, indoors or out, and are frequently used as cut flowers. Glads are perennials, meaning they come back every year without replanting. They typically bloom from mid- to late summer, although some varieties bloom in winter. There are hundreds of varieties of glads, each having its own distinct colour and characteristics. Gladiolus are named for the Latin words meaning, "little swords."

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Gladiolus bulbs
  • Plant pot or other container
  • Large gravel (optional)
  • High-quality potting soil
  • Water

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  1. 1

    Choose the variety of gladiolus that you would like to plant. Generally, the smaller, shorter varieties are better for containers. The larger varieties can still be planted in containers, but they may need be staked to ensure they don't fall over and break or otherwise become damaged.

  2. 2

    Fill the container with a high-quality, well-draining soil. To ensure adequate drainage, fill the bottom of the container with an inch or two of large gravel, if you desire. Make sure that your container has drainage holes and that the holes are large enough to allow sufficient drainage.

  3. 3

    Plant the bulbs, also called colms, 3 to 6 inches deep and about 2 to 3 inches apart, with the flat side facing down and the growth point facing upward. Typically, a container will hold three to five bulbs, depending on the container's size. For continuous blooms through the entire season, plant the bulbs in succession, meaning plant one bulb, then wait one week to 10 days before planting the next.

  4. 4

    Water generously, soaking the soil completely. Water as often as needed when the soil becomes very dry. Be careful not to overwater, as this will cause the bulbs and roots to rot.

  5. 5

    Place the container in an area where it will receive full sun for about six hours each day. If your container is very large or heavy, do this before you fill it with soil.

  6. 6

    Cut when the first floret starts to show colour, for the best cut flowers. Cut the leaves sparingly, leaving two to four leaves--the leaves strengthen and nourish the growing bulbs throughout the year. Remove dead or yellowing leaves and stalks at any time.

  7. 7

    Move the containers with your gladiolus bulbs to a garage or basement for the winter. Dig up and store the bulbs if you cannot move your containers and live in a very cold climate. Dig the bulbs after the first frost and let them dry for about two to three days. Store them in a cool place in a brown paper bag.

Tips and warnings

  • After glads have finished blooming for the year, they go dormant for a few months before starting a new growth cycle. They are not winter hardy in climates colder than zone 6, although a thick layer of mulch usually protects them.
  • Before replanting bulbs in the spring, carefully inspect the bulbs and discard any that have become diseased or otherwise infected.

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