The Glad show has begun!

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Well, where does a proud new parent begin?

My first autumn sown seedlings have sprung! G. equitans and G. gueinzii both have around 5 that have surfaced. They are white at the moment, as I had placed sheets of paper over them to stop them from drying out.

For the last week at least they have been under another box perhaps giving more darkness, bot not totally blocked from the light as they are sat in a long vegetable produce box with stacking corners.

I used a mix of gritty soil with some wood ash and more than 50% leaf compost. The pots used are normal 14cm or near diameter, depth standard around 12cm. The mixture was moist to start with, I gently flattened and firmed the tops and sowed 15 seeds (25 in some where I have more seeds) and kept 10 of each as an insurance. To cover them I sprinkled well broken leaf compost over just to cover. I then used a fine spray to completely wet the mixture once only.

Now that they are coming through, and the tops are still moist but some are starting to dry slightly, I have given them all a very light spray to let them know they have rain and can grow. Free draining and moist is the key. I have removed the paper but they are still under the other box for a little longer until I see more germinate. I will have to give them more light soon.

They were left on my kitchen floor at temps mostly around 16-18C (61-65F). I was going to leave them there to replicate mild autumn weather in Sth Africa, then if they hadn't germinated I was going to move them to a cold greenhouse in late winter to let them get colder nights. Sth African temperatures will generally be higher than ours, but some areas particularly in the mountains experience lows to -8C at night, with warmer days.

If they all germinate where they are I will leave them there until spring, then move them to the cold greenhouse. If some haven't germinated by late winter I will move those to the greenhouse to experience bigger fluctuations in temperatures.

It would be a good idea for me (when I get around to it) to check each location for each species I am growing, then see if I can find out what temperatures that area generally has. Most of them I think will be adaptable to my conditions anyway, so I don't want them to think they will get special treatment unless they prove to be temperamental!

I sowed them on the 23rd November, and I saw these on 15th December, so it took 3 weeks. I sowed Eucomis vandermerwei seeds at the same time and I have 2 of those through too!

There are 3 G. equitans in this pic, one towards the bottom with a seed head still attached. Two about 1/2" below the label still bent over but with that definite gladiolus seedling appearance.

Thumbnail by wallaby1
west Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Good going and great info! To the potting bench I go to start G. carneus, watermeygri, arcuatus, and meliusculus....

Will let you know what happens. I think I will start these outside for now--night temps are running in the 50'sF and 70'sF. Will monitor and move when the next cold front approaches.

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Gee Deb, if your night temps are in the 50's and 70's what are your day temps like!

Our day temps are now going down to the low 40's max (5C tomorrow, 41F). Nights are just above freezing but a touch of frost can be expected. We do have some sun though, that helps enormously!

I spent yesterday afternoon scraping around for more suitable sized pots, you know how it is. You have to tip out anything that you can find a spot to plant in, find anything that may have died, then wash the pots. Then scrape around for old plant labels to recycle, they need to be washed, written on, and after all that I didn't get any seeds sown! I used up all the labels I bought, 250 of them!

But it is great fun, isn't it? I still have time, our inside temps won't change much.

I would imagine your temps would be similar to Sth Africa, they should do well in TX. We can compare notes!

west Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

days are 70's--sorry about that. We are supposed to get a cool down to nights 40's and days 50 or 60. We sometimes (this year anyway) have a lot of rain in the summer but usually very dry between Aug and end of Oct. Needless to say the high temp rarely goes below 90 during that time. High humidity too--usually year round.

Summer dormant bulbs that have to remain bone dry (and I got a lot of them) have to be grown in clay pots and either moved way up under the eave of the house (if they can take a little moisture every now and then) or into the garage. Half of the garage is made into a "quasi-storage room" and does get some AC--stays at about 85F during that time range.

After looking at this site--I realized I used to have some G. carneus in the ground about 15 years ago. They did really well on neglect too for 4 years (sometimes as low as 25F during that time period too according to my journal) until a supposedly "dwarf" piece of pampas grass next to them needed to be killed to make room for more Louisiana Iris'. That's a long story in itself...took me two full seasons to kill the beast and the remains of the "stump" still sit rotting right in the middle of the bed of iris. At least it is at ground level and I can cover it with mulch. Still leaves a meter round bare space in the bed.

Despite what Annie's Annuals says--mine did just fine through summer deluges. But the ground heats up and dries out within three days usually at 95F--lol. So they might do OK in the ground for you too on a south facing exposure by those bricks your house has. In fact, I'm going to order some more from SilverHill seeds. I managed to find 35 pkts of bulbs that I simply will perish if I don't have--I'll get the 100 lot size--you need anymore?

Annie's description of G. carneus:

I know what you mean about the cleaning and arranging. Most all of my plants are in my backyard where nobody will realize the depths of my obsession. It faces North and I'm just moving pots constantly to chase the sun--at the height of the summer it's the opposite. Chase what little shade there is. By the time I finish all that it will be dark. But alas, Scarlet--tomorrow is another day!

Horsens, Denmark

Ohhhhh, I`ve been doing the wrong thing then. My seeds have not shown a bit of life, it must be because they are place in a warm spot. Will move them immediately!
They need to be barely damp ?

west Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Zest, I hope they will make it on more than slightly damp. I don't know how to make things only slightly damp.

Janet, why the wood ash? To make them think they've been thru a fire?

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

zest not all of mine have germinated, only 2 species so far, but cooler may be best. Many autumn sown Sth African bulbs seem to germinate well at that temperature, Eucomis and Agapanthus I sow in autumn when fresh and leave in an east window in a spare bedroom with plastic covering to keep moist. Moist and free draining is always best, I never water until the top starts to look a little dry and then only give a fine spray with a pump action spray bottle. I didn't place plastic over the gladiolus pots, just paper but that can keep them from drying.

They may germinate at slightly warmer temperatures, but it's the spring sowing species that require perhaps around 20C. I sowed G dalenii in April in the greenhouse so they would have had some higher temps as well as lower, we can have some cold April weather.

Deb I have used wood ash because there is a huge pile I can use from burning off garden rubbish and grass sods (lifted to make a new bed) mixed with wood. It should have plenty of potash in it, and that is good for bulbs, but if I didn't have it they would have had to do without! I didn't have it for G dalenii. Some plants I repotted in a mix with wood ash in have greened up beautifully. There are fires in Sth Africa which will leave potash, so it sounds like a good idea! I prefer to use natural resources, and it's free!

Deb your weather is still like our normal summer temperatures, I imagine more watering would be necessary. If you can think of seeds that have matured over the summer, laid on the ground amongst debris and experienced drying spells, then autumn comes with rains and it's cooler, they think yep, time to grow, we have water. Whether they have constant water is something to think about, in nature unless they are sat in a crevice or protected spot that doesn't dry easily they will most likely suffer some dryness with wet spells in between. It's usually a combination of rain with the correct temperature that triggers germination, and once the seeding has it's root in place they can generally withstand quite a bit of variable weather, but remember that winds and dryness under the surface of the soil can help keep seedlings from geting too wet and rotting. This is why I think just moist is best as we can't hope to replicate nature, but by keeping them in a friable mixture the roots travel easily and won't rot.

G. carneus is unbelievably beautiful, I can't wait to see it flower! I think I have enough, thanks! That south wall you are talking about is full with G communis ssp byzantinus, after they die back the hardy fuchsias take over and fill it so no room there! I'm working on more places though! We have high humidity too but usually not the heat to go with it. It's surprising just how tough some plants can be though if in the correct soil and location.

Pray tell us Deb, what are these 35 bulbs you found that you would perish without? This could be dangerous where I'm concerned!

west Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Yep Janet, Free is good.

Some Freesia's (the other species), Lachenalia, Albuca, Aristea, Cyanella, Polyxena, Lapeirosa, Velthima, Geissorhiza. I'm waiting on her to tell me whether I have to pay the phyto or fill out and send in that USDA form. I figure I'll get myself these seeds and Doutt's Cape book as a gift to myself. =)

Here's a little eye candy:


Winchester, KY(Zone 6a)

Janet, have you ever used 3%H2O2 solution for seeds and seedlings? I started using 1/2cup per gallon of water both as an overnight soak for the seeds and for watering seedlings and baby transplants. I routinely do it with everything now; seems I've faster germination and a better rate, and no fungal problems. I water rooting cuttings with this solution too.

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Swoooooooonnn! It's a good job I didn't search all the bulbs, unless this is new on their list! I did lust after many of the Lachenalias too, found a really good Japanese web site with great pics, I managed to limit myself to L aloides var. quadricolor 'this' time! I also got Spiloxene capensis, Cyrtanthus obliquus and Veltheimia capensis.

That Lapeirousia is darned tempting...... next year???

Glad to see you are treating yourself on your birthday!

It's Debbie's birthday today! Make the most of it!

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Hi Neal,

I was busy searching so didn't see your post!

I have seen many people on DG using that method but I don't have a problem with damping off as a rule. I think the compost mix I use, plus methods I have found to be successful are good enough.

I was reading someone's post only yesterday, perhaps from a dug up old thread, about using too much H2O2 and it has the opposite effect, so be careful with quantities!

west Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Thank you Janet--as soon as I go to grocery store, I shall have a very nice day. You would like the weather here right now--its 66F, drizzle-misting, and foggy as the Highlands.

You know we really need a Cape bulbs forum.

I don't use H2O2 either, I seldom if ever soak seeds, I try to mimic nature as best I can. I was told over and over to soak Rhodophiala species seeds--I refused to do so and had 99% germination in 2 weeks. I do almost everything outdoors which gives good air circulation so no fungal problems here either. I do pull seedlings inside if they can't handle lows below say 35-40F at nights. That's a pain sometimes--and I don't have a greenhouse. I will use either real good seed germinating mix or really good growing mix--depending on the "expensiveness and/or rarity" of the seeds. I use 9cm x 9cm x 12cm (square quarts) for anything staying 2 years in same container or sometimes azalea pots if I only have a few of some seeds--regular grow mix for this--with fine granular organic fertilizer mixed in (acidic or not depending on species). 6cm x 6cm x 6cm square starters for anything I think I need to use the germinating mix for.

I really just looked at specific genus on their sites; ones which liked and thought I could make a go of here. Mostly ones that said zone 8. Or other members of genus' I already have and want to try more of. Plus I already had some I wanted, just would rather propagate from seeds rather than find bulbs--if it was possible to find bulbs. Other than Freesia leichtlinii and Veltheima capensis--the bulbs are rare and harder to find over here. Aristea africana can be found; but I figure that's a two year from seed species here--so why not go with seed and get a lot more plants. Go to here and look at the 2 pics of Lachenalia of Diane Chapman of Telos Rare Bulbs. That bulb has my name written all over it. =) I'm also getting L. mutabilis--Howard say L. aloides will do the best here, but I haven't looked elsewhere for the seeds yet. I know this is off topic.


Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

I would love that weather just now Debbie, it should be good for Glad germination! At around 11am it was 35F here, not much more later and 'almost' sunny! By the time the sun is nearly down at 3.30pm the days are too short.

You are right, there are so many other Sth African bulbs that grow in the same climate as gladiolus it's difficult to ignore them! Lachenalia viridiflora 'was' on my list, but I already had plenty of extra glad species I 'need' first. I decided with much anguish I would have to try just the one Lachenalia this year, then... next year is another year!

Until we get plenty of gladiolus to grow and compare, show, swoon over, it will be slow progress but hopefully will be encouraging.

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

I think I have looked at all of those several times!

The top one looks like a bonsai almost! It does have a very sturdy stem. I wonder if the flowers naturally splay out at an angle or if they have gone towards the light. Notice how the flowers go upright, the same effect as laying a climbing rose stem diagonally to encourage more flowers.

The flower bracts are very long and sturdy too. You can see how it would be good to hybridise with!

west Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Looks like maybe they might have trained it for some sort of flower show event, no?

Horsens, Denmark

Debbie; hope you had a good birthday yesterday :o)))))
and thanks for the link (Annies), they sure have some nice glads.

Janet; the seeds are moved and covered with a plastic bag with a few holes.
Now I will just wait and see (and cross a few fingers)

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

I guess it is possible to train a glad with a little bending as it grows. Worth the effort!

zest I hope they grow for you, some possibly need more time.

There's another show pic of G. carneus on Jim Almond's site (I just ordered lily seed from him!). I love this one, it looks to have a slightly frillier shape.

west Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

That T. cominsii was pretty nice too--more floriforous than most in that genus.

I see the G. alatus, G. arculatus. and G miusculus are all dwarf species after researching them today. I think I'm going to stick with the dward species other than G carneus. I think they will take up much less real estate that way.

Any idea on the size of the G. watermeyri? I have just the that left to plant tomorrow.

You know, this is off-topic but I've had to resort to a numbering system for all my bulbs on the plant tags. This also makes it easier to recycle the plastic plant labels. Then I have a separate journal for all the bulbs. I hate to admit what number I am up to--it would show the true depths of my bulb addiction.

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

G. watermeyeri is dwarf, the description on Silverhill

"10-30cm, ribbed lvs, striking scented cream to grey fl with purple veins & green & orange markings Wi-Sp. Sow Au."

Deb you just made me realise that the ones which are dwarf are the ones they are offering in lots of 100 seeds. What does this mean? To me it suggests the dwarf species set seed much better and are thus much more abundant in nature.

Dwarf species will also stand up better, winds won't tip them over, if grown outside that is worth considering.

Talking about plant tags isn't really off-topic, they are part of the sowing and growing process. That is a really good idea, if you keep a journal! That is something I have thought I should do, but unless you start with that sort of organisation in mine it's difficult to start somewhere down the road from the start. As I grow more unusual and rarer bulbs it would be a sensible thing to do, more so as the passion snowballs! At the moment I can't get my head around it, but I do write dates on the labels (sometimes I forget).

So Deb, what number are you up to? When I realise I have used so many labels in such a short time (even if they are not all sown), and mostly only one label for each lot, I know I'm getting in deep. I can justify that by saying to myself there are people out there I have seen take it to much higher extremes, and I am following in their footsteps! That can only be a good thing?

west Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

I started a separate journal on bulbs early this fall and just estimated dates on some things prior to that. My daughter (18) said she got tired of watching me write notes in 2 composition books in front of the computer. She bought it for me at one of the malls. My problem is I have way to many square quart pots growing; many with the same thing growing in multiple pots. I use a black paint pen I got at the craft shop (Michael's: Zig Painty Twin brand for those viewing these posts) and you can't clean that off the labels. So when I have to "recycle" them, all I have to do is black out a number and there is still plenty of room on the label. (For the viewers--the best American source for plastic plant tags is Novosel Enterprises--they give a discount on orders over $25, ship really fast, and have the thickest and best quality 6" labels I've found anywhere--its in the Garden Watchdog).

And then I also have the problem of multiple bulbs/seeds of the same genus and species from multiple sources. For instance, Freesia laxa. I got a large amount of these bulbs this fall from one source in Oct (146A), I also have some in the ground I've had about 4-5 years (146B--and I just estimate the age and number of those in the entry), then there were 2 different European sources of seeds (146C, 146D), and an American source of seeds (146E). I also threw another batch in from SilverHill since I was already ordering way too much from them anyway. Then there is the F. laxa whites and the F. laxa blue. Sadly, I'm up to #274 already, and I haven't even started on whats in the ground unless I also have seeds going of it too. This got to be way too much for words on a label--I went to the numbering system to save my sanity.

I just like the dwarf varieties of species glads because they look like they will do better down here and not need additional space. I figured SilverHill just offers bulk prices on the more commercial species that they think commercial US growers will want. Many of them are already grown and sold as bulbs over here (i.e. Veltheima capensis and Freesia occidentalis). But you are probably right about them being more vigorous growers and reproducers.

I didn't go back to SilverHIll looking at those varieties (probably because I spent way to much time there on this seed order from them--they did reply quickly to me though. Not sure if it was the size of the order or that I am a fellow IBS member that got their attn or if they just happened to be near the computer. I'll send you a copy of one of their articles about seed collecting in Africa as soon as the Christmas rush is over at the post office. It came out of one of my IBS bulb reports and is kinda funny. Rachel is a good writer and tell's a story well.

That RarePlants site in the UK has some really good pics of some of those species and info too. I'm not real sure about their USDA growing zone 8 part though. Amazon has indicated they have shipped the Cape Bulbs book and it goes into great detail about the native habitats that the bulbs are found in so I'll see if that info matches up with their USDA zones. I was thinking USDA zone 9--but that could only be G. carneus.

Since I don't have a ton of Glad seeds I sowed the ones in the post above in round "azalea" pots--about 10-12 per pot. I used really good quality potting mix in the bottom, then the seeds, then a super thin layer of germinating mix on top of them. That way I could keep just the top moist without supersaturating the entire pot. Some, such as G. watermeyri and G.alatus grow naturally in rocky sandstone and sand mixes so they will eventually have to be changed over to that kind of mix to survive well here in our wet winters.

I also need to research winter rainfall amounts there and may have to move them up under the eaves of the house to reduce winter rainfall here. I already have to do that with some California species (Triteleia laxa) and the eastern Cape Crinum lugardiae and Herbertia pulchela and the single cape Ammoncharis coranica I have (I notice you have seed pics of that in the PlantFiles--let me know how well that one does for you--I'm testing it here too). I get the feeling we may get more rain in the winter than either side of the cape gets--lol.

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

I would love to have the book on Cape Bulbs, they charge a heck of a lot more here for it. We can always swap info if we are really stuck! The Gladiolus book doesn't give zones but does give regions the species grow in and the type of terrain they grow on. I imagine rainfall for a give region could be found on the internet.

Silverhill states zone 8 unless otherwise stated, but as we know other factors such as sun and rain etc. make a lot of difference. I probably rely too much on my miracle mix, everything seems to thrive in it so while it does I will stick with it, at least while they are young.

I think it took a week for Silverhill to reply to my first email, once you place an order they don't take too long to send the invoice, 2 weeks to get here from acklowledging the order and payment.

Rare Plants has a new list up, the www offers only list make me want to grow everything, I have never seen such a great line up!

My Ammocharis are on the kitchen table and growing well, only one failed to take off but has a green start of a root that doesn't want to grow. My kitchen seems perfect for growing autumn bulbs! I grew Amaryllis seed/bulbils the same way last year and they are in the greenhouse now, growing after a dormant period. Temps now are very near freezing even in the day time but they don't mind it. Not sure if Ammocharis would cope the same.

I can see the green leaves of the Gladiolus pushing through the first sheath type growth, G gueinzii are popping up all over, still only 5 of G equitans.

west Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Here's the started glad. I think these are G. carneus, G. alatus, and G. arculatus on a metal shelf under the eaves of the back porch.

Thumbnail by dmj1218
Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

The beginning, just wait until we see those little spikes growing! It is truly amazing to see glads growing from seed, as we shall show.

I have now got 6 G. equitans, you can see the green leaves emerging on some

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Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Gladiolus gueinzii is doing extremely well, I now have 11 seedlings out of 15 seed sown!

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west Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

good germination rates there Janet--did those come from SilverHill?

Well, the temps just dropped 15-20 degrees F in less than 30 minutes. Its probably between 55-60F out there now. Hopefully that will help convince them that its fall on the Cape--lol

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Yes they are Silverhill seeds.

This could be the ideal time for yours to germinate, 3 weeks seems to be the time so keep a look out!

west Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Just hope they get them here before it gets to hot (May starts staying hot).

west Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

There is a strange orb in the sky today--could it possibly be? the sun?

I hear you've got the thick fog now Wallaby according to CNN news. Thanks for taking it off my hands for a while, I haven't seen the sun shine in a week.

This message was edited Dec 22, 2006 9:36 AM

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Huh, sun, I think I remember that.

Fairly thick fog here, more like the grey stuff filtering through the atmosphere where you don't know where the sky begins but yesteday was fairly thick fog, other places probably much worse.

We've had temps at freezing for last 3 days in the day, today late morning it was 30F (-1C) I think, the thermometer looses it's colour. I know there was freezing fog on some plants, the weather man just told us -3 or -4C tonight which it must have been last night. I have an open rose, some rose buds, frozen autumn flowering camellias. Just dragged the Ensete maurelli into the garage, argh, it felt frozen but hopefully the inside is OK, it has a thick stem.

Everything in the greenhouse look fine, even dahlia imperialis young plants still green but the new shoots on the outside one are frozen.

Gladiolus calianthe in the greenhouse still have green leaves too! It's just too cold to sow seed or even prepare to do it, my pile of autumn sowing glad seeds are still sat waiting. No more germination on the ones sown yet.

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

I now have 10 seedlings of G. equitans! There are 2 just poking through at the bottom, the rest easily seen.

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Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

There are now 12 seedlings of G. gueinzii. Notice something? The 2 with leaf shoots are amber in colour!

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west Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Good job! Are they still in the kitchen or are these in the cooler greenhouse?

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Still in the kitchen, and a bit dull too. I might move the germinated ones once they get a little more size, then if no more are germinating they might need more cold, so will move them.

I didn't see the colour of G. gueinzii until I saw it on the pic, it's in a shaded spot, so I had to check it to see if they were OK. The colour doesn't show up as strong as it is, I need to get a pic in proper light.

You would be surprised what does germinate over winter, I have a Bomarea species from tradewindsfruit germinating in the greenhouse just now. One came up recently, now another is coming through. They were sown late in spring if I remember, probably late May to June, I put the date on one lot and forgot to do it on the rest I sowed at the same time. Now I have to find what it was I sowed then as I moved them!

The first one keeps growing even now

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Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

These are the Gladiolus gueinzii seeds, they are quite sturdy and stronger colour than some.

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Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

G. equitans seed is smaller but a much brighter colour

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Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

I'd better show the same scale of G gueinzii, the first pic was cropped

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west Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

The G eqitans looks a lot like other Glad species. I still need to try and get G meliusculus and the G watermeyeri sown today. Need to go to post office--am hoping that's a little slower today--lol

I've got one small Bomarea (under lights in unheated garage), I'm not sure if its going to big enough to bloom this year--and am looking at 2 others to get in March. I think those would do really well in the front of my house with a shady northern summer exposure.

Got a book in the mail today--Bulbs in Containers by Leeds--Cape Bulbs maybe will come tomorrow or next day--good reading for cold winter nights--lol

This message was edited Dec 26, 2006 1:25 PM

west Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Speaking of cold winter nights--yet another hard frost here last night (that makes 5 so far this winter--last year only 1). That one snuck up on me last night--they were only predicting a low of 37--some things were still inside but I had put out others--and did not cover up Freesia laxa seedlings--will check on them soon. They will probably be OK--they are located where they receive early morning sunshine. This makes the third time some crinums have been frozen back after starting to re-grow. They must be soooo confused and wondering what is going on. Its sunny outside today and the high is supposed to get up into the mid-60'sF so I will be able to get some things done--including sowing those last 2 glad species.

And that's the am report from southeast Texas today.=)

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

We had a few minutes of sun from 1pm. it just melted in behind the clouds again. Next few days will be up to 50F, winds from the Atlantic bringing rain so if I have enough daylight (dark at 3.30pm), and it doesn't rain, I have my pots and labels ready to get sowing!

We weren't forecast frosts to -4C either, it was never supposed to be below 0 or 1C. Has Cape Bulbs arrived yet? These books are great for knowing where bulbs grow in Africa, but don't always help much when you want to sow the seeds. Good temptation material though!

I forgot to take a pic of G. gueinzii in our 10 mins of sunshine, but got one with the flash which does show the colour fairly well. The back one shows it best. I can see the little tips on most of them pushing through.

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