“Remember me” is the message of gladiolus, birth flowers for August. The flowers can also mean strength and integrity, while the sword-shaped leaves suggest love-pierced hearts. In ancient times, glads were associated with magical powers.
A gladiolus grows from a type of bulb known as a corm. A corm is a solid mass of stem tissue—not layers of tissue like a true bulb. They’re usually round and sort of flat. Both buds and roots grow from the base of the corm, which is the part that stores food for the plant. Examples of corms: gladiolus, crocus, freesia, acidanthera (African gladiolus), crocosmia.
Corms typically have an outer papery protective layer. Even so, it’s best to keep them cool in storage (40 to 55 degrees). If shoots appear on corms prior to planting, handle them gingerly. If you break the shoot, you risk losing that year’s flowers. Once a corm is planted, as the plant grows it actually devours all the stored food in the corm, which shrivels and dies. As the plant continues to grow, it forms a new corm on top of the old one.
To enjoy gladiolus flowers for a longer growing season, practice staggered planting. Tuck individual corms into soil every 5 to 10 days. Be sure to leave space in your planting beds to accommodate subsequent plantings. The result will be non-stop glads all season long.