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Saving Gladiolus Corms

Saving Gladiolus Corms

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Larry Sagers Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved

Miles Labrum is a world-renowned gladiolus breeder from Murray. He always promotes growing gladiolus in Utah. Since these plants are cold tender, in the fall he shares ideas on how to lift and store the corms so they can grow next season.

While growing gladiolus was a great love, he helped influence gardens in Utah in many other ways. He sold for Porter Walton Company, a very important nursery company in the area. Labrum later became Director of the State Arboretum of Utah at the University of Utah and helped plant and care for many of the trees that grace the campus.

He became Director of Grounds at the State Capitol and continued to plant trees and to introduce new flowers and plants to those gardens. He removed many of the undesirable species of trees from around the grounds and replaced them with more desirable hardwood species. He is an excellent photographer and gives slide lectures to many garden groups around the area.

He loves gladiolus because they are easy to grow. He has a number of tips for those who want to grow these flowers in their gardens. “Glads like the sun. They need at least one half day in the full sun to grow and bloom well. They will grow in the shade but they will not bloom. They do not like to dry out so water to keep them moist but not wet. Choose a well-drained soil to prevent rotting the corms. ”

Labrum does not sprinkler his glads because he hybridizes them and the sprinklers would ruin the pollen. Another problem with the sprinklers is that they tend too weigh the plants down and tip the flower stalks over.

When asked about fertilizer, Labrum responds, “Glads do not need a lot of fertilizer. I never apply much nitrogen because I don’t want soft, succulent stems. I usually use some phosphorous and some potash.” Along with the fertilizer, he adds abundant amounts of mulch to his growing beds. This helps hold the moisture and prevent excessive drying of the plants.

At this season of the year, Labrum is busy digging, cataloging and storing the corms for spring. Although he once grew glads commercially as a business, he now concentrates on his breeding work in developing new varieties. His methods of caring for the corms are simple, yet effective.

“I leave the plants in the ground for about three to four weeks after they finish blooming. I cut the tops off of the plants. Then I carefully dig them up and let them dry out in a dry but shade place. I store the corms in boxes with screen bottoms so they get good air circulation and so they do not mold or decay.”

Store the corms in a cool place that stays above freezing and that remains dry. Cellars are usually too wet and the corms will likely rot. Keep them in the dark and keep out any wandering rodents that might be tempted to take them for a quick meal.

Labrum’s gladiolus introductions are some of the most popular in the country. Many catalogs across the country sell varieties he hybridized. Check these catalogs for some of his most popular introductions.

Columbia View Gladiolus at , Pleasant View Gardens at and Summerville’s Gladiolus 801 Bridgeton Pike, Mullica Hill NJ 08062 856-981-3986.

For more information on growing gladiolus, contact the North American Gladiolus Council at They have photos of many varieties, lists of suppliers and information on societies.

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