Where to plant:
Gladiolus bulbs can be planted in the garden or in pots - if you use pots, be sure that they are deep, or you will need to include some sort of support once they are over 2 feet tall. Gladiolus can get quite tall, up to 6 feet, so they often do best at the back, or at the center of a garden where they won’t block other plants. Gladiolus likes full sun, but can grow in partial shade, especially if summers are hot.
When and how to plant:
Wait until all danger of frost has passed and the soil has started to warm. You will need to loosen your soil at least 12” to allow lots of root space. Your gladiolus bulbs will go down about 4” deep with the pointy end up. Space bulbs 3-6” apart. Water thoroughly after planting. You’ll need to consistently water, but if the soil doesn’t drain, your bulbs can rot - keep watering to once a week, except during the summer.
Once the flowers start to fade, remove them to continue growth. Once all flowers are gone, remove the stalk and leave the leaves/plant to allow the bulb to gather energy for next year.
If you live in zone 7 or colder, dig up your gladiolus bulbs in the fall before the first frost. In warmer areas, you can leave gladiolus bulbs in the ground over winter, though an extra layer of mulch/hay/straw ensures more bulbs come back. Bulbs will make tiny baby bulb offshoots - these can be left attached to the larger mother until their second season (or the third year) - then separate and plant the bulbs on their own.
Storing your bulbs: If digging up your bulbs, carefully dig around the plant and gently pull up the plant still attached to the bulb. Cut off the stalk within 1” above the bulb. Allow your bulbs to dry outside for a day or 2, then shake off excess soil. Cure your bulbs in a warm, airy spot for 2 weeks at a temperature of 80-85ºF - if any bulbs are squishy, throw these away to remove potential disease. Bulb dust can also be helpful to avoid disease/fungus. Store your bulbs in paper bags/boxes that can breathe - and store in a cool, dry area, such as a basement or garage (DO NOT allow the bulbs to freeze) - replant your bulbs in the same way next spring!