You know how there are birthstones? Gems for each month that are kind of like horoscopes or something in that they supposedly reflect the qualities or characteristics of the people born that month? Well, there are birth month flowers too, it turns out.
I think I first became aware of the “birth month flower” idea years and years ago because of some calendar I had that listed both the birthstone and the month flower. I remember seeing that August’s flower was gladiolus, and thinking “perfect; my birthday is in August and I love gladiolus.”
Though many things have changed over the years, those two have remained the same: my birthday is still in August, and I still love gladiolus.
When I was selecting flowers for my wedding, I knew I wanted gladiolus as part of it.
When I decided to attempt growing flowers for the farmers market last year, I knew I would include gladiolus in my lineup.
When I didn’t end up selling at the market, but thought I’d at least enter something in the county fair, I chose gladiolus.
When I decided to not grow so many flowers this year because I knew I wouldn’t have the energy, I knew I still wanted to grow gladiolus – just this time in a bucket on my patio where I could enjoy them.
I think it’s safe to say I’m a fan.
And if you, too, are a fan but have never grown them before, you’re in luck: they’re really quite easy. And since they come in every color under the sun you have a lot of variety to choose from.
Gladiolus grow from a corm, which for now you can think of as being similar to a bulb. But, unlike the tulip and daffodil bulbs you plant in the fall for spring flowers, you plant these in the spring for summer flowers.
They can grow anywhere from 1-5 feet tall, so many times you may want to stake them or support them on a structure to keep the stems from bending and breaking under the weight of the blooms. You’ll especially want to do this if you are looking for high quality cut flower specimens because the stems exhibit a gravitropic response, meaning they will bend upwards away from the ground. I’m a fairly lazy gardener at times, and don’t mind a bit of character in my flower stems, so I’ve never actually bothered with staking them. (But then again, I’ve never grown any that have reached 5 feet tall, either, so that might change my behavior.)
They make great cut flowers, and can bloom for fairly long periods in the vase. You’ll want to remove the lower leaves, and then since the blooms open starting from the bottom and working their way up, you’ll want to remove the spent blossoms as they start to fade.
Around here (Northern Utah), they aren’t hardy, so if you want to save the corms to plant again next year, you’ll need to dig them before a hard freeze, let them dry, and then store them over the winter in a cool, dry, dark place.
Find some gladiolus to enjoy this August – and then plant some next spring so you can enjoy them again!