Expanding Gladiolus – An Experiment

Before we get too far, I want to make sure we are clear about a few things. I do not know what I am doing. I know how to pull weeds. I know how to plant most seeds if there are directions on the package. I know that I live in zone 7b and try to plan my plant shopping accordingly. Other than that I am simply guessing and hoping for the best.

My neighbor – who is an excellent gardener and blessed me with all my gladiolus and irises (and other things I can’t remember) – came by for a short visit the other day and noticed the manure I put around my fruit trees. She asked me if I’d placed it too close to the trees, and before I could ask any questions she followed up with “If it were too hot the trees would have turned yellow by now.” I guess you shouldn’t put your manure right around the base of the tree. All of this is to say that I am treating this home and its gardens like a great experiment.

One experiment for this summer will be my gladiolus. My initial plan was to mix the gladiolus and irises in my garden along the fence line to help act as a weed barrier between the yard and my veggies. But I had more irises than I thought. Way more irises. I had to come up with a different home and decided that I would dig them all up before choosing where they would live.

But have you ever dug up gladiolus bulbs? I had not done so before yesterday and holy cow they multiply like seahorses. (They have hundreds of babies at a time, if you didn’t know.) Lift one bulb and you will find 50 baby bulbs beneath it. It is unbelievable. I found myself overrun and not ready to rehome so many bulbs. At the end it I found my self with half a 5-gallon bucket full of bulbs.

Gladiolus and her babies.

So, for my experiment. I pulled back a patch of mulch in my front flower bed and got to work. My goal was to evenly incorporate all the bulbs together so they would evenly fill the area next to my front porch. To start with I washed off all the bulbs I found so I could sort them by size and know what kind of space I would need for all of them.

It helps to use some sort of sieve to rinse those tiny bulbs.

Then I went to their chosen home next to my front porch, loosened the soil, and mixed in a bag of topsoil I had laying around.

I started with the largest bulbs and planted them evenly spaced throughout the area.

All that was left were the smallest bulbs. I dumped out the bucket and evenly distributed them over the whole planting area. Then came an important step. I went through and checked that each one that had sprouted was pointing sprout up, and then pushed into the soil. I checked all the baby bulbs and if they had an obvious top I sat them upright. Some of them weren’t that well formed so I am trusting gravity to do it’s job and the bulb will figure out which way is up. Finally I dumped some topsoil on top of these baby bulbs and then watered.

It has been a few days now since I did this transplant, and I can gladly say that none of fresh shoots have shown distress. In fact there are a few new shoots breaking through the surface. We will have to come back in a couple of months and see how things are going.

Until then I am keeping everyone up to date with my This Week In The Garden Series. Thursday’s post will be a fun update on what we’ve been up to in that arena and what is coming next. The last frost is less than two weeks away and then we will be off and running with planting and all sorts of projects. Stay tuned!

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