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February 04, 2005

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Friday, February 04, 2005

Garden tips for February Garden tips for February (February 04, 2005)

Hit the nurseries early for best selection of gladiolas

by Jack McKinnon

February is the month to plant gladiolas, tuberous begonias and irises. I will write about gladiolas in this month's tips. All of these corms, tubers and rhizomes can be found at nurseries this month. If you get there early you can get the best selection.

Here are the tips:

1. Buy and plant gladiolas now for spring to fall bloom (depending on the varieties you plant). You can plant to a theme (all one color, for example) or choose a mix and sample them all.

2. Plant in different areas depending on the show you are looking for. Gladiolas work well in beds, borders as background and as clusters of color. Plant behind mounding shrubs or annuals to provide different levels of foliage and floral show.

3. Large containers work well with gladiolas. I like to have them as a central theme with lower growing plants around them and hanging plants spilling over the edge of the pot or box.

4. Gladiolas need rich fast-draining (sandy) soil and as much sun as possible.

5. Choose high-crowned corms 1 1/2 to 2 inches across for the best show. Older corms don't do as well.

6. Plant part of your total corms early and then plant some more every 15 days through March for a succession of bloom.

7. Combine with annuals, gypsophila, Shasta daisies and perennial phlox. You can always border beds with alyssum and lobelia.

8. Mix a complete fertilizer into the soil before planting. I like 16-16-16 (percentages of nitrogen, phosphorous and potash) for good growth and show. Follow instructions on the bag or box as to the amounts to use.

9. Plant the corms about three to five inches down depending on how big they are. Make sure to look at them carefully and plant with the root side down.

10. Space the corms from four to six inches apart depending on their size. In containers gladiolas can be placed closer together because you will want a more intense show and containers get replanted seasonally.

Good Gardening.

Jack McKinnon worked in the Sunset Magazine gardens for 12 years and has been a private garden coach for six years. He can be reached at (650) 879-3261, or by e-mail at [email protected]

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