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The colorful gladiolus originally comes from South Africa and Madagascar. It belongs to the iris family (Iridaceae). Its botanical name Gladiolus is derived from the Latin word gladius, which means sword. Therefore, the magnificent summer bloomers with the elongated flower shape are also known as sword flowers. Gladioli love the sun and warmth. Here we explain whether the sun-kissed sword flowers are frost-resistant and how they can best get through the winter.

Are gladioli hardy?

To date, about 260 varieties of gladioli are known. Most cultivated gladioli are not hardy. If they stay in the ground, the tubers will freeze and will not sprout again in spring. However, there are some varieties that are frost-resistant and can remain in the bed over the winter. These often have smaller flowers than the usual gladioli varieties.

Thanks to their winter hardiness and their appearance, they are eye-catchers in natural gardens. The flowering period of frost-resistant varieties begins a little earlier. By combining conventional cultivated gladioli and hardy varieties, you can extend the flowering period without having to plant bulbs at a later time. So you can enjoy the magnificent flowers for longer.

  • frost-resistant varieties
  • non-hardy varieties
  • both need cold protection

Hibernation outdoors

Frost-resistant gladioli overwinter - outside

Even hardy varieties need protection from the cold to survive the winter unscathed. For this you can build a blanket of twigs or foliage, which should not be too thin. A practical alternative is compost that has not yet fully decomposed. This can be loosely piled up.

Since this protection against the cold often stays on the ground for several months outside, it is necessary that it is permeable to air. A lack of oxygen would cause the plant to begin to rot. Therefore, build the warm blanket in such a way that it lets air through and at the same time insulates the cold well.

Hibernation indoors

Overwintering gladioli - indoors

When fall has arrived and the leaves of non-hardy gladiolus varieties are changing color, it's time to prepare the pretty flowers for winter. The sensitive plants must be removed from the soil before the first frost at the latest. To do this, it is best to first cut the plants 15 cm above the ground. Then dig them up. Gently remove the soil from the bulb. Now it is important that the tubers can dry in peace. This will prevent rot from developing.

  • when leaves turn yellow
  • before the first frost at the latest
  • Cut 15 cm above the ground
  • remove soil
  • let dry

Then carefully wrap the gladiolus bulbs in newspaper. Move the warm-packed tubers to a room that is cool and frost-free. A suitable place is, for example, the basement. The flowers feel happiest when their bulbs get a new coat of newspaper at regular intervals. They are neither watered nor fertilized during the winter.

  • Wrap bulbs in newspaper
  • 5 to 10°C
  • Frost free
  • dry
  • don't water
  • do not fertilize
  • Change newspaper regularly

An alternative to the cold protection made of newspaper are bags made of paper. The tubers can be packed into these when the outer moisture has dried.

Tip: Do not overwinter the sword flowers in a pot. Moisture easily forms here and there is a risk that the tubers will rot.


Braid gladioli into a braid

Braiding the plants into a ponytail is also a good idea for the sun-kissed swordflowers. The tubers can then be hung up quickly and easily in winter. In this way, the airy and cool storage at about 5 °C is achieved during the hibernation. Next year you can once again enjoy the glorious colors of the gladioli.

brood tubers overwinter

The main bulb of the gladiolus develops smaller bulbs called brood bulbs. You can also hibernate them if you follow a few tips. Carefully separate the bulbous tubers from the large bulb. They must not be watered or fertilized during the winter. That would cause them to rot. However, the bulbous tubers must not dry out completely. It is best to mix sand and soil together and place in a container. In this winter quarters, the small gladiolus bulbs feel completely at home.

  • Separate the brood tubers from the main tubers
  • lay in sand-soil mixture
  • don't water
  • do not fertilize

Bring the bulbous tubers to a dry and frost-free room for hibernation. This should not be heated.

  • dry
  • Frost free
  • cool

You can transplant the brood tubers next spring. They do not produce any flowers in the first year. It usually takes two years before they show you their pretty flowers for the first time.

Sort colors

Sort gladioli by color

If you want to arrange your sword flowers by color next year, you can sort the plants by color before wintering. Anyone who wants to be surprised by a bright blaze of color next year should keep all the tubers in the same container.

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