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The half-pint gladiolus ... now's time to plant.

The half-pint gladiolus . . . now's time to plant

If you like glads but feel that the traditional, full-size varieties are just too bold for your garden, consider the miniatures. These are increasingly popular as gardeners seek a more natural, casual look in their flower beds.

The flower spikes reach only 2 1/2 to 3 feet high, in contrast to full-size glads, whose spikes can tower 4 to 6 feet. Also, individual blossoms on the miniatures are smaller and not as tight on the flower stalks (see the photograph at left).

Mini-glads bloom during the summer from corms planted now through spring. In mild coastal areas and low-elevation desert climates, prime planting time is now through May. In the Pacific Northwest, you can start planting February through May. In cold-winter areas, plant April through June. For a staggered bloom period, make successive plantings every two weeks.

The miniatures come in a wide variety of colors, some with contrasting markings. You may find them sold as mixes (sometimes called tiny tot or pixiola) or as named varieties. Your choices include the red "Small World' and "Red Bantam', "Petite Orange', "Golden Angel', white and purple "Wood Violet', pink and white "Pinky Pink', yellow "Starburst', lime green "Jade', and many more. Check nursery bins for the corms, or order some from your favorite mail-order supplier.

Be sure to choose corms that are plump, with high crowns, such as those pictured at far left. More flattened corms are older and less vigorous. Choose a sunny spot with fast-draining soil, and plant the corms 3 to 4 inches apart, 4 inches deep. The pointed tips should go up.

As weather warms, thrips may attack, causing foliage to look mottled and grayish. Usually natural predators will keep these tiny insects at tolerable levels, but if damage is severe you may want to spray with meta-systox-R, malathion, or orthene.

In mild-winter areas, you can leave the corms in the ground all year. But if you live in an area where the ground freezes as deep as the corms, dig them up in the fall and store through the winter.

Photo: Chubby corms of miniature glads are ready to plant

Photo: Miniature gladiolus on right has blooms about half the size of the standard glad on the left
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Date:Jan 1, 1988
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