Before we moved to Virginia, I had never heard of a gladiola making it through the winter. When we looked at our home, the owner (a retired Horticultural professor from VT) had all of these gorgeous glads blooming and I talked to him about them, asking if he had to dig them up every fall. He told me he had never dug them up and they came back reliably every year.
Sure enough, I’ve left them in the ground, and they come back each summer. These, incidentally, are not the short gladiolas that you may have seen in catalogs listed as ” hardy glads” – no, these are the big 3 foot tall spikes, in a huge variety of colors – pink, white, peach, yellow and combos. Absolutely beautiful.
So, I went online to do some research, and I’m finding sites with people claiming that their glads overwinter too, but no one seems to have any definitive explanation for this. There are a bunch of theories, but gardening books do say that they aren’t hardy north of zone 8.
Some folks theorize it’s the heirloom varieties that are making it through the winter, hypothesizing that they are adapting to the climate and becoming more hardy. Some others think the winters just aren’t as cold as they used to be. Still another site I saw says that it depends on the amount of sunlight your glad gets; if it’s in full sun virtually all day, it grows stronger and healthier and can, therefore, make it through the winter easier.
Anyone have any other information, or care to share your own experiences? From my perspective, I love these gladiolas, and I’m very glad I don’t have to go to the work of digging them up every year. I do absolutely nothing to these flowers except enjoy them. They get no supplemental watering, require no staking, nothing.
And, if you have gladiolas of your own and dig them every fall, you may want to experiment. Maybe you, too, can get by with no work and gorgeous glads!