Gladioli nanus or sword lilies produce shorter, more slender spikes of delicate funnel-shaped flowers than their larger cousins. Perfect for the middle/front of the herbaceous border, wildflower meadow or for planting in pots, these garden favourites will be one of the first gladioli species to bloom. Try mixing with eucomises, geraniums, lilies or sidalceas. They make excellent cut flowers.
Plant around 15 to 20 cm deep and approximately 10 to 15 cm apart in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun — adding grit or sharp sand to aid drainage, and allowing around 30 to 50 corms per square meter. Feed every couple of weeks with high potash feed; if you garden organically, liquid seaweed is ideal as it is organic and comes from a sustainable source. Protect from strong winds and provide a good layer of organic mulch in late autumn. Lift and divide every few years, pick off bulblets and transplant! Please note that it will take these a few years to flower.
Always unpack on arrival and store in a cool place until ready to plant. Take care! Gladioli can be harmful to cats, dogs and horses.
Potentail problems, pests and diseases:
Aphids: these sap-eating insects can weaken plants and spread viruses. Whenever possible, pick off by hand using gloves.
Snails and slugs: these pests enjoy munching on young shoots, stems, leaves and flowers. Watch out for damage!
Thrips: these sap-eating insects like to feed on leaf and flower tissues. Leaves and petals become mottled with white/discoloured spots and heavy attacks may cause buds to fail to open. Thrips thrive in dry, hot weather and can spread viruses! Keep plants regularly watered and dispose of any deceased plant material and debris ahead of the growing season to prevent any risks of infestation.
Botrytis/grey mould:this fungal disease usually caused by excessive moisture, warm temperatures and poor air circulation can initially be seen as brown spots/grey mould on the leaves and stems. If you spot any signs of this disease, immediately remove affected bulbs/plants and destroy. Botrytis is an airborne virus and can spread rapidly in the breeze so do not compost infected material.
Gladiolus corm rot: these soil-borne bacterial/fungal diseases often occur when the soil is excessively damp/poorly aerated or when storage conditions are too humid. Attacks can generally be spotted when foliage starts to yellow/wilt and flowers begin to grow sparsely or undersized. If you suspect any issue, gently remove plant from the ground, shake off any excess soil and check corm for any signs of rot disease — infected material will display brown lesions. To prevent any risks of infestation, regularly inspect corms left in storage during the winter months, maintain good garden hygiene and discard any infected material at first sight before replacing contaminated soil.