One of the best performers in April is the true heirloom Byzantine gladiolus (Gladiolus byzantinus). This bulb (technically, it is called a corm) can be used to spruce up ditches and other hard-to-garden areas. Great color and texture combinations can be made with the lanceolate foliage and long inflorescence of blooms.
Heirloom: These Byzantine gladiolus bulbs are the real deal -- true heirloom bulbs! This makes a difference both in the color and the stalks staying upright. Many colorful, large blooming imitators tend to "fall over" in normal gardens and require more maintenance than most are willing to give. However, the Byzantine gladiolus remains at a proportionate level, delighting the garden with a striking magenta color rarely found in other bulbs. Even old clumps bloom quite readily, but if desired, this rapid multiplying bulb can quickly be divided and spread to border large areas of fence lines or gardens. It thrives in all kinds of Southern soil types and regions, and is another bulb that can be used to spruce up ditches and other hard to garden areas. Great color and texture combinations can be made with the lanceolate foliage and long inflorescence of blooms.
Blooms: The magenta color is striking and stands out in the April garden. The blooms are clustered on the 2-3 feet stalk. These blooms are showy and demand attention whether viewed from a distance or up close. It actually performs best in full sun.
Why are they so valued? Many gladiolus will flop over in your garden, but as long as these Byzantine gladioli have enough sun, they are sturdy upright plants. Also, the magenta color is striking and stands out in the April garden. Last, they are quick to multiply, with little baby cormels forming around the base of the mother corm. In contrast to modern, large cut flower gladioli, the little cormels from the Byzantine gladiolus form into blooming size bulbs, so soon you will have a clump of color in your garden!
Resilient: Byzantine gladioli are relatively resilient plants to many other pests besides the bulb eating voles. Further north, it is sometimes referred to as the hardy gladiolus because it can be planted in the fall and handle the cold better than other gladioli. This is a hardy plant that can withstand some very harsh growing conditions from zone 6's cold winter to zone 10's early April heat. We know these will be a great success in your garden!
Do you plant this gladiolus in the fall? Yes, this is normally a fall planted gladiolus that blooms in the spring; however, sometimes we will ship these "in the green" in the spring right after they have bloomed. Simply allow the foliage to die back naturally and once it is brown, you can cut it off. Then simply wait for the new foliage to appear in January and February.
Our History with the Byzantine glads: My brother helped me dig some of our first Byzantine gladioli from a small town in East Texas. We dug in red clay and had to fight for each bulb. Many were left behind and the site continues to look beautiful even today, but after our dig we went to a local gas station to wash up. The red dirt with water looked more like the color of blood, and by this point we looked like suspicious characters as we were tired, dirty, and covered in this dirt/water combination. Nobody said anything though, and we soon had the bulbs at their new home on the farm. We now have several growers across the South also growing these bulbs for us, as the gophers on our farm found them to be particularly delicious.
Early in our farming career, we believed we had a great start of these flowers. We had about 2,000 Byzantine glads in a nice neat row in our sandy loam soils of Northeast Texas. I'll never forget when some of the tips of the gladiolus began to look yellow. While inspecting the row, some of the foliage down the line began to move, almost shake. It wasn't a windy day. When I walked up to the foliage and gently pulled, it came smoothly out of the ground with nothing attached on the other end. The bulb (technically a corm) had been eaten! Our pocket gophers (officially voles) discovered our nice row and in a matter of a week, devoured almost all of our 2,000 corms. It was devastating.
The True Magenta Heirloom Gladiolus.
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