Corm On In – Storing Gladiolus Corms

Fresh Dug Gladiolus CormsI dug up my gladiolus corms today. It is the end of the season and this is the one chore that I always, always put off until the very last.

It’s one thing when I can keep the plant in a mobile container and have my husband do the heavy lifting, but it is a whole other thing when I have to go do the extra effort of digging the darn things out of the ground.

I am of two minds about plants that need to be dug up and stored for the winter.

The lazy butt side of me thinks they are a pain in the ass. In the fall, you dig them up, you dry them out, you store them (and in my house, storage space is a pretty rare commodity). Then, in the spring, you have to pull them back out, replant them. That’s alot of work for a plant that I can just rebuy every year.

But then the cheapskate in me says, if I just take a little extra time, I won’t have to buy these exact same things next year.

What’s a busy but Midwestern raised, Scottish-American girl to do? Procrastinate until the very last minute and then give in to the strong skinflint background and dig the damn things up.

I may dig them up, but I still resent the silly, frilly things. They are worse than annuals. At least annuals have the decency to die when the season is over without making you feel like a shmuck because they would live if only you would make a bit more effort. *sigh*

While it is a pain to dig up gladiolus corms every year, it really isn’t too hard to prep them for for indoor storage.

The first thing you need to do is, well, dig them up. You should “harvest” your gladiolus corms after your first frost has hit. Don’t worry, the ground will keep the little corms nice and toasty and you don’t have to worry about those nasty ice crystals doing them in. But, you don’t want to wait too long. The longer the air temperature stays cold, the more likely it is that the ground will freeze. Once the ground freezes… that’s it, pack it up, you sir will be buying your gladiolus corms next year because those babies in the ground are deader than a headless pigeon.

So, your first task is to dig the corms up.

After you dig them up, lay the corms out on a piece of newspaper in a cool dry place for a few days. Those corms will be dirt covered and filthy, but fight your OCD neat freak tendencies and DO NOT WASH THE CORMS. In all honesty, I have no idea why you shouldn’t wash the corms, but everything I have ever read has been very adamant about this. Leave them dirty and let them dry out for a few days. I figure, even if this is one of those garden myths that serves no purpose, it saves me a bit of work and it doesn’t hurt the corms.

Also, don’t toss out the baby corms you will find stuck to the full size corm. Those can be planted next year to grow and then you will have even more gladiolus corms to fuss over.

Once the corms have dried out a bit, lightly brush the dirt off of them. Don’t get too zealous about cleaning them. Just brush the loose dirt off.

Next, get a cardboard box. Note the word “cardboard” as in paper. This is not a paper or plastic decision. You need to go paper so that you don’t trap moisture in with the corms. Moisture is bad, evil, yucky. You don’t want to go there.

Lay down a layer of newspaper in the box and loosely scatter corms on the paper. Do not pile the corms on top of each other. The should not be tightly packed. Cover the corms and lay another layer layer of newspaper. Loosely scatter some more. Repeat process until your corms are all in the box. Top off with a final layer of newspaper.

Put the box in a cool, dry place. Garages tend to work well, basements only work if yours stays dry. You know your house and where the “cool, dry” places are.

Then wait a whole winter till spring. If you have kept the evil, dreaded moisture away, you will have a whole box of ugly, wrinkled, brown things that will grow into pretty flowers. If you failed to keep the moisture out, you will have a box of moldy, possible squishy and smelly things. But think positive thoughts. Think brown and wrinkly.

6 thoughts on “Corm On In – Storing Gladiolus Corms
  1. valerie on

    I have never dug my corms up in the fall and they have came back stronger the ever.


    Gaylan L. Suhr Reply:

    I don’t really know the defination of a Corm. Is this just a sprout off the Glad Bulb. I can’t find a picture of a corm. I need help. I have purchased bulbs each year and I would like to keep my own and grow new each year.

    Also, I don’t know what zone I am in in Lincoln, Nebraska.

    Send me the answer by email if you can.

    Thank you
    Gaylan L. Suhr
    1030 Gailyn Circle
    Lincoln, Ne 68523


  2. LadyBug on

    You obviously don’t live in Zone 4/5! Most years I dig them up and set them aside with some other plants that will not overwinter. I don’t do this because I don’t want the expense of new bulbs in the spring, but because the overwintered bulbs grow bigger and stronger than anything available locally.

    One year, the snow came very early, and the bulbs were still in the ground. I mulched over the bulbs and rationalized that they would probably survive. The next year all that remained was mush. It reminded me of the meatball’s fate from an old camp song, except nothing grew from these little piles of muck.

    There have been the rare and infrequent overlooked survivors planted close to the basement wall in a very well mulched bed. But in truth, this little micro-climate is not reliable enough to risk my grand old lady bulbs overwintering there.


  3. Gita's Garden on

    What do you do if you have no “cool and Dark place” in the building you are in? I am a superintendant in a small 4 unit building and went crazy buying Glad.’s this spring because I got the O.K. to do the whole “gardening” thing.
    We get really cold winters here and the outside shed for the snow blower and lawn mower is just a tin building, obviously too cold, and the preset heat is really cozy warm. Do I have a chance with my corms ???


  4. Elane Crum on

    Hanna, I appreciate the information you shared on Glads. I have never grown them and just got a bag of 50 from closeout on spring stock from a nursery. I live in SW MO, Zone 5, I think, and do not know if they will have time to mature if I plant them now…first week of July. If I chose to save for next spring planting, do all of the above storage techniques still apply? Thanks,


  5. Pingback: Storing gladiolus | Atyourservices

  6. Gladnewbie on

    Hanna, really appreciated your candor. Actually found it humorus. Sounded just like me. I am digging my bulbs today. It is November 13. It has already frosted 6 to 8 times. I am just 3 miles south of the Michigan/Indiana state line. Zone 5. The glad leaves are still green but I am getting nervous about the mucky stuff so I am a’ diggin’ today!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge