Companion Planting With Gladiolus: Plants That Grow Well With Gladiolus

By: Liz Baessler

Gladiolus is a wildly popular flowering plant that often makes its way into floral arrangements. As well as bouquets, gladiolus looks amazing in flower beds and along garden borders. But what are some good companion plants for gladiolus? Keep reading to learn more about plants that grow well with gladiolus.

Companion Plants for Gladiolus

Perhaps the best companion plants for gladiolus are, believe it or not, more gladiolus plants. Gladiolus is not a cut and come again flower. Instead, it grows its flowers from the bottom up along long leafy spears. When it’s used for flower arrangements, these spears are usually cut off whole.

In order to have a full summer’s worth of blossoms, it’s best to plant your gladiolus bulbs (also known as corms) in succession. Starting a few weeks before your area’s average last frost, plant a new bunch of gladiolus bulbs every two weeks. Keep this up until midsummer. This way, you’ll have new plants growing and new flowers blooming all the way through the summer and into the fall.

What to Plant with Gladiolus

Unfortunately, gladiolus plants don’t have any particular benefits for their neighbors the way that some flowering plants do. They can, however, be planted with other bright flowering plants to make for a truly spectacular splash of color in the garden.

Some good flowering companion plants for gladiolus include zinnias and dahlias. Gladiolus plants like sun and well drained, sandy soil, and plants that grow well with gladiolus need the same kind of soil conditions. Really, basically any plants sharing the same requirements will work.

Gladiolus plants also make a great and colorful border around vegetable gardens. As long as your garden (or at least the area around it) has sandy, well-draining soil and receives full sun exposure, your plants should be happy.

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Read more about Gladiolas

How to Grow Gladiolus

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If your previous exposure to gladiolus plants consists of a few stalks leaning this way and that in the flower garden, give this summer bulb, technically called a corm, a second chance. A mass of two dozen or more gladioli in bloom creates a garden spectacle of spiky blossoms, with some left over for your floral arrangements.

A member of the Iridaceae family, plants in the genus Gladiolus also go by the name flag flower and sword lily. Fast-growing gladiolus plants are a smart choice for gardens where space is a premium they grow to from 2-5 feet tall, adding drama to the border.

Botanical Name Gladiolus palustris
Common Name Gladioulus
Plant Type Corm, or bulbotumer
Mature Size 2-5 feet
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Sandy loam
Soil ph 6.0-6.5
Bloom Time June through frost
Flower Color Red, pink, yellow, purple, green, orange, and white
Hardiness Zones 7-10 (USDA)
Native Area South Africa and Europe
Toxicity Toxic to humans, livestock, and pets

Companion Plants For Gladiolus - What To Plant With Gladiolus In The Garden - garden

Gladiolus, planting, fertilizing and Winter storage

Gladiolus are one of those flowers that have been around for ever years. They are often seen as part of flower arrangements, and make quite glamorous displays by themselves in tall trumpet-shaped vases.

Gladiolus come in just about every color except a true blue or jet black, so there are colors that fit everyone’s taste, or interior decorating scheme.

Gladiolus corms for Spring planting are available at garden centers, big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s, discount stores like Wal-Mart and K-Mart, supermarkets and through mail order catalogs. Gladiolus as cut flowers can be found for purchase year-round at florist stores and supermarkets, as well as farm stands seasonally (mid to late summer). They often come in bunches of 12 stems.

Gladiolus are easy to grow in my home garden and don’t take up much planting space.

Planting Gladiolus ..In upstate New York where I live (USA zone 5-4) I plant gladiolus corms on or right after May 1 in my vegetable garden. Do to the fact that I like to bring them into the house when they are just starting to bloom, I don’t plant mine as a focal point in the flower garden, but in a more utilitarian way. I have an area along the back side of the vegetable patch, where I grow cucumbers, that I yearly plant gladiolus.

Each year to boost the organic quality of my vegetable garden’s soil, I work a few bags of dehydrated cow manure into the ground to amend (improve) it, and broadcast a couple of hands full of Jonathan Green 5-10-5 across the planting area, which is also turned in.

Across the back side of the vegetable patch, I plant three or four long rows of gladiolus. The glads are perfect as a companion plant to the cucumbers, because they grow tall and tower above the cucumbers that grow in front of them at their feet. Both plants happily collect sun light (photosynthesis) and produce well.

When planting gladiolus, pick out a location that gets full sun (six plus hours of direct sunlight daily) and has well-drained soil. Put them in the ground so they are pointed side up with one or two inches of soil covering the corm. Space them 8 inches apart, with 8 inches between rows. Alternate the spacing between rows so the gladiolus planted in the middle row are planted in-between the gladiolus planted in the first and third rows (see illustration). Before planting, lay the glad corms out on the ground in your garden as you think you want them to be spaced. Adjust your arrangement before digging any planting holes if needed.

I have complete access to all 4 sides of my vegetable patch, so from the back side I can easily reach in and cut gladiolus for flower arrangements. If you cut glads to bring inside, cut them long-stemmed, but don’t cut the plant off at ground level. The plant needs its leaves to collect light for the remainder of the growing season, which feeds the corm.

I plant all my corms at once, but you could space out your gladiolus corm plantings by a week or two, so you have an extended period of bloom time.

If you are growing your glads and plan to leave them outside to enjoy in the garden, versus bring inside, you will have to stake them to keep the plants heavy flower from knocking the plant to the ground. Right before you see any buds unfurl, insert a bamboo stick (available at garden centers everywhere) into the ground, about an inch and one half to two inches away from the glad’s stem. You don’t want to pierce the corm. Loosely tie a small piece of jute around the head and to the stake to secure.

Winter Storage of Gladiolus Corms ..Gladiolus corms should be dug up and stored for Winter in areas where the temperatures go below 32 degrees fahrenheit, and the ground freezes solid. Never dig up gladiolus corms until / before they have been hit by a hard killing frost which darkens the plants sword shaped leaves and stops light collecting (photosynthesis). The growing season for glads and most other tender plants ends when temperatures go below 28 degrees fahrenheit. After they have been killed by a frost, let the glads stay in the ground for 3 or 4 days to a week before lifting. When dug, break the dead tops away from the fleshy corm and wash off excess dirt with a hose. Let the corms dry outside on the lawn for one day, then store inside in a dark room or cellar that stays 40 to 50 degrees farenheit. I store my gladiolus corms in two large shallow bowls that I use as bird baths and tops of cardboard boxes, stacking the corms no more than two layers high. I keep them uncovered so there is no moisture buildup, which could cause mold and possible rot. Gladiolus corms could also be stored in old onion bags or bags that clementines come in, then hung up from a rafter so there is air movement around the corms.

After one growing season, a gladiolus corms might divide and grow another full-sized second corm along side of it, or you might see many babies at its base. I usually divide the two large corms and save some babies for replanting, so each year my collection of plantable gladiolus corms increases.

Winters must be getting warmer here because each year at gladiolus planting time, I see one or two that I’ve missed that are emerging out of the ground to start the growing season again. I hope this post showed you how easy planting some gladiolus is. So, my words for you are Go out, buy some glad corms, and plant them ->

Gladiolus is a classic perennial known for its tall flower spikes and large, colorful blooms. Great cutting flowers, gladioli look spectacular in summer bouquets. Here’s how to grow gladioli in your garden.

Commonly called “glads,” these lovely flowering plants are available in a multitude of colors and typically reach between 2 and 5 feet in height. Their blooms also range in size—from “miniature” flowers less than 3 inches in diameter, to “giant” flowers greater than 5 inches across!

The taller varieties, which need to be staked, are often placed in the back of a garden to nicely complement shorter plants.

Note: In Zone 7 and colder, gladioli corms will likely need to be dug up in the fall, stored, and replanted the following spring. Find your planting zone here and see instructions for this process below.


When to Plant Gladiolus

  • Start planting gladiolus corms in the spring, once the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed to at least 55°F (13°C). See your local frost dates here.
  • From your last frost date to early summer, plant another round of corms every 10 days or so. This will result in continuous blooms through early fall!
  • Depending on the variety, it takes between 60 and 90 days from the time glads are planted for the corms to root, grow, and bloom.

Choosing and Preparing a Planting Site

  • For the best flowers, plant glads in full sun.
  • Gladioli like well-drained soil that’s moderately fertile. They will not do well in heavy, soggy soil.
  • Ready your garden by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to about 12 to 15 inches deep. After loosening the soil, mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost or aged manure.

Gladiolus corms

How to Plant Gladiolus

  • To ensure large-sized blooms, plant corms that are 1¼ inch or larger in diameter.
  • Set the corm in the hole about 4 inches deep with the pointed end facing up. Cover with soil and press firmly.
  • Space the corms 6 to 8 inches apart.
  • If you grow gladioli primarily for cut flowers, plant them in rows. It’s easier to tend the plants and to harvest the flowers.
  • If planted with other flowers in borders or annual beds, plant the corms in groups of 7 or more for the best effect.
  • Water the corms thoroughly at planting.
  • If you’re planting tall varieties, be sure to stake them at planting time. Be careful not to damage the corms with the stakes.

How to Grow Gladiolus

  • Put a 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch around your gladioli to keep your soil moist and help prevent weeds.
  • If you get less than 1 inch of rain a week, water your plants regularly throughout the summer. Otherwise, water them moderately when in growth to keep the soil moist.
  • Remove the faded/dead flowers to ensure continuous blooms. Once all the flowers on a stalk are gone, cut the stalk off at about 2 to 3 inches above the soil.
  • Be sure to leave the plant intact so it can mature and grow the corms for the next season.

Winter Protection for Gladiolus

  • If you live in USDA Hardiness Zone 8, put down a layer of hay or straw for winter protection. In warmer regions, gladiolus can remain in the ground through winter, provided a hard freeze (28°F or colder) isn’t common in your area.
  • In colder regions (Zone 7 or colder), dig up gladioli corms once the foliage has faded after the first fall frost. A light frost will kill the foliage, but not the rest of plant. Be sure to dig up the gladiolus corms before a hard freeze, or the plants could be fatally damaged.
  • See corm storage tips below.


  • Gladiolus corm rot (Fusarium wilt)
  • Gray mold
  • Viruses
  • Aster yellows
  • Spider mites
  • Thrips
  • Aphids


Cutting Gladiolus Flowers for Bouquets

  • Cut the flower stalks early in the morning or at night, not during the heat of day.
  • Use a sharp knife and bring a bucket of lukewarm water to the flower bed.
  • Cut stalks with only one or two open flowers. The rest of the buds will open after you put them in a vase.
  • Cut diagonally through the stalks and place them in the bucket.
  • Leave at least four leaves on the plant in the ground if you want to re-use the corms.
  • Place the bucket with the flowers in a cool dark place for a few hours before arranging them in a vase.
  • Remove lower fading flowers and cut about 1 inch off the bottom of each flower stalk every few days.

Digging Up and Storing Gladioli Corms

In colder regions (Zone 7 or colder), dig up gladioli corms once the foliage has faded after the first fall frost. A light frost will kill the foliage, but not the rest of plant. Be sure to dig up the gladiolus corms before a hard freeze (28°F), or the plants could be fatally damaged.

  • Use a spade and dig up the entire plant, grasping the top to pull it out of the soil. Avoid bruising or injuring corms while digging. Shake off all loose soil (do not wash them off) and discard damaged corms. Cut the stalk down to 1-2 inches above the corm. Save the small cormels separately if you so desire. These will bloom in 2 to 3 years if you replant them each spring.
  • Allow the corms to dry in the sun for 1 or 2 days if the weather agrees. Sift out excess soil and place corms in wooden flats or trays. Cure in a warm and airy location for 2 weeks at a temperature of 80 to 85°F (27 to 29°C). Remove and throw away the oldest bottom corms (from the base of the new one).
  • Don’t remove the husks on the corms.
  • Dust the corms with a fungicide (“bulb dust”) to avoid disease problems. Place dust and bulbs in a paper bag and shake vigorously.
  • Store the corms in paper or cloth bags, pantyhose, or old onion sacks. Stack or hang the containers so air can move among them. Store the corms at 35 to 45°F (2 to 7°C) in low humidity. A cool basement is quite suitable. Do not allow corms to freeze.
  • Replant these corms in the spring for another year of beautiful blooms.

Learn more tips for storing gladiolus through the winter.

Podcast Transcript

This South African native flower is also known as the sword lily. It’s in the iris family and gardeners have been breeding and growing it for hundreds of years. It’s the birth flower of August and said to symbolize infatuation. Have you guessed it yet? It’s the gladiolus.

I have to admit, when I say gladiolus I normally think of funeral flowers. But that’s actually a compliment to this colorful bulb. Gladiolus makes excellent cut flowers and the stems are so showy you really feel like you’re getting your money’s worth when you grow them. While most gardeners are familiar with the large and colorful flowered hybrids, there are many heirloom and species types that have smaller, more delicate stalks and are tougher plants. The ‘Nana’ gladiolus have 2 foot tall flower stalks and small, orchid-like flowers. ‘Atom’ gladiolus grows less than 3 feet tall with bright red, fringed in white, flowers. And the heirloom ‘Abyssinian Glad’ features small white flowers with a purple throat and a sweet fragrance.

Whether you’re growing one of the hundreds of hybrids or experimenting with some of these smaller species types, you grow gladiolus the same way. Glads like a well drained soil in full sun. They grow from corms planted in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Since they’re often used as a cut flower, plant in rows so you can care for them easier. Keep well watered and spray neem oil to control thrips insects that can attack the flowers. Consider staking or supporting tall varieties to keep the flower stalks straight. When about three blossoms are open on the stalk, cut it at the base and bring it indoors to let the rest of the flowers open. In fall dig and store the corms indoors.

Now for this week’s tip, in shady areas consider planting colorful foliage annuals such as coleus, perilla, and alternanthera. These add brightness to dark corners without relying on flowers.

Can Gladiolus Bulbs Grow in Water?

  • Forcing gladiolus lamps indoors with water is an easy way to enjoy spring flowers. It is common to bring a branch of forsythia or another plant with early flowers and force it to bloom in a vase of water, but can the bulbs grow in the water? It is easy to grow light bulbs in the water, but you must provide the right amount of cooling time and choose large, fat, healthy bulbs for the project.
  • Even a novice gardener can learn to grow flower bulbs in the water. You just need a few materials, some freshwater, and your choice of light bulbs. Not all lamps are good options to force, but you can try daffodils, gladiolus, tulips, hyacinths, saffron, and more. Provide the appropriate container, lighting, and clean water.
  • While most bulbs are grown in the soil, the bulb itself is actually a storage unit with lots of carbohydrates for growth and root-forming cells. The plants don’t last long, but the fuel inside the lamp is enough to produce some leaves and flowers inside for a period of time. The first step is to choose good and healthy lamps, without mold or weak points. The lamps must be large and perfect.
  • Forcing flower bulbs into the water still requires the plant to experience the cold to force the embryo inside the house to break dormancy when faced with warmer temperatures. Place the lamps in a paper bag in the refrigerator to induce them to release numbness early.
  • Depending on how many gladioli you have to start with, choose a shallow bowl or another flat bowl that contains a small amount of water and all the gladiolus spirits scattered.
  • Fill the container with water to 1/4 inch depth. The water must be deep enough to cover the base of the gladiolus ears. Place the gladiolus buds in the water, the tip pointing up and the marked side down.
  • Lamps that grow without the stabilizing force of the ground tend to fall, resulting in a less attractive display. To avoid this, use a container that is at least as tall as the flower’s stem grows.
  • A transparent container is fun because it allows you to watch roots and buds form, but you can use any container that contains leaves, stems, and water. There are specific hourglass-shaped vases that support bulb growth while forcing flower bulbs into the water and looking attractive.

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Keep the container in a room with bright indirect light and watch the roots form. Add water as needed to maintain the level exactly where the root zone is forming. Over time, you will see leaves and stems. Move the plant to a lighter area, where temperatures are at least 18°C (65 degrees Fahrenheit). Rotate the vase so that the stems grow straight and do not lean towards the sun. Most bulbs will bloom within 2 to 3 weeks after the cooling period.

I am Elsa, love gardening. I spent lots of time with plants, flowers, it gives me lots of happiness.
I am sharing all the practical tips on how to grow various plants, flower plants, vegetables in the garden. Read more about me.

Watch the video: JOPLIN: Gladiolus Rag at 84 bpm. Cory Hall, pianist

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