Gladiolus Seed Pods: Harvesting Gladiolus Seeds For Planting

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By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Gladiolus don’t always produce a seed pod but, in ideal conditions, they can grow little bulbets that have the appearance of seed pods. Most plants that grow from corms or bulbs will produce offsets or bulbets that can be divided away from the parent plant and grow separately. The seeds from these type of plants can be planted but will take years to produce, so it’s much easier to start new plants from the bulbets or offsets themselves. You can, however, try saving gladiolus seeds to preserve a favorite variety and share with other gardeners. It’s easy to do, but the flowers are a long time coming.

Gladiolus Seed Pods

Gladiolus seed pods occur after the flowers are spent. They are small and innocuous, and most gardeners don’t bother with them because glads grow so much more quickly from their bulbs. Starting gladiolus from seed is as easy as starting any other plant but the desired blooms will not come for many years.

Far easier is to dig away some of the little bulbets at the base of the parent plant. These will bloom the next year. For determined gardeners, harvesting gladiolus seeds is a quick project but storing them is important to save the viability of the seed and keep them from molding, which can destroy the embryo.

Most gardeners cut back the flower stalk after it has bloomed so the plant will channel its energy into the corms and not into a stem that will not bear again. Because this is standard practice, few gardeners ever get to see the seed pods which will develop after the petals have fallen. They take a few days to a week to swell up into little green nubs that have seed inside.

The seed may or may not be viable and it could also be a hybrid of the parent plant and another gladiolus. The only way to be sure you have a clone is by using plant material such as the bulbets or tiny new corms that appear at the feet of the parent.

Starting gladiolus by seed may result in a cross or hybrid of two different types of gladiolus but even this can be a fun surprise and might produce a real standout plant.

Saving Gladiolus Seeds

Gladiolus seed pods are small and show up when the petals fall from the magnificent blooms. They dry out and fall off fairly quickly, so you need to keep an eye on the flowers in order to get to the seeds. Wait until the petals fall and the seed pods are brown before harvesting gladiolus seeds.

Drying out and changing color from green to brown will signal that the seeds are ripe and ready to take. Remove the pods and crack them open over a bowl to catch the seed. Save the seeds in an envelope in a cool, dark location until spring.

Winter sowing might work, but the new plants may also be damaged by frost. Starting gladiolus from seed in spring will give you a better chance at developing corms.

How to Plant Gladiolus Seeds

In late winter you can start the seeds indoors in flats. Around February, sow seeds in flats shallowly and sprinkle some find sand over the tops. Keep the medium moderately moist in a warm, bright location.

Seedlings will emerge in 4 to 5 weeks. Allow seedlings to develop a few true leaves before hardening them off. You can transplant them to a cold frame or wait until soil temperatures warm to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 C.) before planting them into a prepared bed.

If spring rain isn’t adequate, supplement water regularly. It will take a few years before you get your first flowers but, in the meantime, the existing seedlings will throw off tiny corms of their own, doubling the flower display over time.

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Read more about Gladiolas


Bulbs & corms will not be back open for sale until the winter, and shipping will start again in the spring.

-->Among the most striking of the flowers that bloom from bulbs, gladiolus are best known and most often grown for cut flowers. .

Bulbs & corms will not be back open for sale until the winter, and shipping will start again in the spring.

-->Among the most striking of the flowers that bloom from bulbs, gladiolus are best known and most often grown for cut flowers. Our bulbs are of fine quality, #1 size for the tall standard varieties and top size for the border gladiolus. You will find that these larger bulb sizes produce stronger plants and larger flowers than the so-called ‘landscape’ (smaller) bulb sizes often offered in the trade.

Planting Gladiolus corms outdoors in late spring: Although you may plant gladiolus corms directly into the soil, you may wish to consider a simple, yet effective fungicidal treatment prior to planting: Fill a 2 gallon bucket with water and add 1 cup of household bleach. Place the gladiolus corms in the water, soaking them for about 15 min. to 1/2 hour. Remove and let dry naturally. Plant normally.

Your gladiolus corms will be shipped to you directly from our grower via UPS (Sorry, we cannot ship to Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico), ready to plant in the field, or sell directly to your customers. We will begin shipping to your state according to the schedule below. You may also request to have them shipped any week after the first ship week for your state. (If so, you must indicate your requested ship week.) Please note that our grower may delay shipment due to weather conditions. Planting instructions will be included with your shipment.

The products listed in this section start shipping either February or March depending on the item and/or your location. See individual product pages for more information and any state restrictions.


Brighten winter days - and those of friends and family - with dazzling Amaryllis! Pairing colorful Amaryllis blooms with a decorative flower pot makes a thoughtful gift for friends near and far this season.


Plants grow from corms, or their divisions, corm sections, or from seed.

In addition to these methods of starting plants, scientists may cut corm slices to micro-propagate in a lab setting, which is beyond the scope of this article.

Another exciting aspect of propagation is the manipulation of plants by manual pollination, with the hope of generating a fascinating new “sport.”

Let’s consider propagation techniques available to the home gardener:

From Corms

Typically, you’ll purchase gladiolus corms, which are similar to bulbs. They have a rounded top with a flattened bottom, and contain food for the plant to grow.

Fresh corms have a papery husk and come to a point at the top. This is where the new shoots sprout once they are planted.

Corms can be planted directly in the garden, as described in the How to Grow section below, or you can get a head start on the growing season by starting plants indoors four to six weeks before the last spring frost date.

You can learn how to start gladiolus indoors in our guide. (coming soon!)

After all danger of frost is passed, transplant outdoors.

By Division

After a corm produces a flower, it dies and a new one takes its place. Sometimes more than one large corm forms, as well as multiple tiny ones with diameters of less than one inch, called cormlets.

In the fall, when all the foliage has withered, but before the first hard frost, you can lift the corms with a shovel or claw, shake the dirt off, and separate them from each other to plant elsewhere.

Large divisions may bloom the following year. Smaller ones may take two to three years to flower.

From Sections

Another way to propagate your favorite gladioli is by lifting corms from the ground at season’s end and slicing them straight down through the basal plate to make sections, like an apple cut to share.

Each section is then allowed to cure and form a callus before being planted the following spring. In the case of large sections, you may have flowers as soon as the following year.

From Seed

While sowing corms, cormlets, and divisions results in flowers identical to the parent plant, seeds produce random results.

You can purchase seeds or gather them from your own plants. However, note that hybrid varieties do not always set seed, and those that do will not produce true to the parent plant.

You can learn more about how to propagate gladiolus in our guide. (coming soon!)

Plant Gladiolus

Gladiolus (Gladiolus spp.) Taller varieties also need shelter from strong winds to prevent toppling. Beds with poor drainage or heavy, clay-based soil must be avoided because gladiolus corms rot easily in cold, wet soil. Prepare the bed in advance by amending the top 12 to 15 inches of soil with a 2- to 4-inch layer of neutral compost. If growing taller gladiolus cultivars, install stakes in the bed at planting to provide support as the stalks form. Gladiolus corms range in size from 1/2 to 2 or more inches in diameter. Tall, plump gladiolus corms with a teardrop shape are superior to wide, flat corms, which may produce inferior quality flowers. For prolonged blooming, plant gladiolus corms in waves every two weeks from spring until midsummer. A 2- to 4-inch layer of lightweight mulch over the bed will help conserve soil moisture and decrease the need for frequent waterings, which in turn will lower the odds of bacterial and fungal growth in the corms.

  • Prune back the foliage to within 2 inches of the soil once it yellows and dies back naturally in fall, usually after the first frost.
  • A 2- to 4-inch layer of lightweight mulch over the bed will help conserve soil moisture and decrease the need for frequent waterings, which in turn will lower the odds of bacterial and fungal growth in the corms.

Leaves may become damaged or die throughout the summer months. Cut these from the plant to improve the appearance of the gladiolus.

In areas without winter freezing, cut back the foliage after it dies but leave the corms in the ground to overwinter.


In USDA zones 7 and 8, mulch gladiolus beds with a layer of hay or straw for winter protection. In USDA zones 5 and 6 areas, except for the hardy gladiolus varieties, dig up the corms for winter storage before the first frost. Clean off corms, cut the stalk within half an inch of the corm, and let them cure for one to two weeks in a warm, airy location. Once dried, remove and discard the old corm as well as any small cormels. Store the large, new corms in plastic mesh bags in a well-ventilated room where temperatures remain from 35 to 50 degrees F. Plant gladiolus corms again in spring for another year of beautiful blooms.

The Stack!t Herb Drying Rack would work well for curing and storing corms.

Watch the video: How to Harvest Gladiolus Seedsl

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