Friday, July 10, 2009

Planting Gladiolus For Bloom Succession

By Kent Higgins

For those who have Christmas and Lenten roses that bloomed this spring the seed will probably be ready to collect, even though the pods are grass green, about the first week of June. If any of the seeds are getting dark, pick them immediately because by the next afternoon they may have dropped.

I put my seed in moist peat moss in plastic bags as soon as I gather it. I label the bags with a wired plant label and throw them on the ground under a shrub and put just a little peat moss over them to protect them. In late November I sow them out of doors in a cold frame. Its amazing how early they start germinating. The first, last winter, were pushing leaves above ground the third week of January.

Everybody in the east should be able to grow Christmas or Lenten roses. My mother had them for years in Ithaca, New York. My sister has them in East Lansing, Michigan. Years ago I discovered a few plants thriving in a garden in Virginia, Minnesota. They do not like a very dry spot. Once you have planted them leave them alone and they should remain for at least a generation, maybe more.

As the temperatures start to rise it will soon be time to put a mulch on your roses and flowers. It may be partially rotted leaves, it may be coarse sawdust, shavings or even spent hops from a brewery. A two-inch layer is ample, but remember that if the mulch is not decomposed, an extra application of fertilizer must be given.

Towards the end of June is a good time to take softwood cuttings, the tip two inches of growth of shrubs, evergreens such as chinese evergreen, hardy flowers and houseplants. They will root well in the coarse grade of vermiculite. Use shallow plastic bedding plant flats about two inches deep. Later transplant to a cold frame or nursery bed.

Dont forget that you can keep planting gladiolus every week or ten days up until mid-July to give you a succession of bloom. And all of your glads will probably need a weekly spray of Malathion for the control of thrips.

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