Abyssinian Sword Lily
Bulbs and bulblike plants, Perennials
All have sword-shaped leaves and tubular, often flaring or ruffled flowers in unbranched or branching, usually one-sided spikes. Have an extremely wide color range. Flowers come from spring to fall, depending on the kind of gladiolus and the planting time. Superb cut flowers. Good in borders or beds behind mounding plants that cover lower parts of stems, or in large containers with low annuals at base.
Plant corms of baby gladiolus in fall or early spring for flowers in late spring. Plant all others from midwinter (in mildest regions) into spring, after the soil has warmed. Grandiflora hybrids will flower about 100 days after planting; the smaller hybrids and species will bloom in about 80 days. For an extended flowering season, plant at 1- to 2-week intervals over a period of 4 to 6 weeks. Where the growing season is long enough, gardeners often time plantings so that bloom will be over before the onset of hottest weather, when thrips can seriously disfigure the flowers.
Start off with corms that are high crowned for their width; broad, flat ones are older and less vigorous. Best planted in rich, sandy loam. Set corms about four times deeper than their height; plant somewhat more shallowly in heavier soils. Space big corms 6 in. apart, smaller ones 4 in. apart.
You can cut flower spikes when the lowest buds begin to open, but keep at least four leaves on the plants to build up corms. Corms can be left in the ground from year to year where plants are perennial (dig, divide, and replant when performance declines). After blossoms fade, trim off stems beneath the lowest flower—uncut stems will set seeds, diverting energy from food storage. In colder areas, dig after the foliage yellows completely (in rainy areas, dig while leaves are still green to avoid botrytis infection). Dry corms on a flat surface in a dark, dry area for 2 to 3 weeks; then store over winter in a single layer in flats or ventilated trays in a cool place (40° to 50°F/4° to 10°C).
From Africa. In late summer and fall, each 2–3-ft. stem bears two to ten fragrant, creamy white flowers with chocolate brown markings on lower segments. Blossoms are 2–3 in. wide and 4–5 in. long and fragrant.
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