General gardening topics

Planting Gladiolus bulbs in pots

Last updated on March 25th, 2022

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Gladioli are stunning flowers you can grow from a bulb. They can get very tall, up to two metres in some cases, which leads many people to question whether you can plant Gladiolus bulbs in pots.

You can plant Gladiolus bulbs in pots but you need to make sure you find a variety that you prefer, one whose fully mature size fits whatever space you have and ideally not one of the taller varieties. The reason for this is that most people who grow Gladiolus bulbs in pots do so where garden space might be limited and the larger varieties can easily topple over under the weight of the flowers.

So pick up a variety that fits the location in which you plan to grow them and choose a stable pot that won’t easily topple over.

What matters most is that you offer the optimum growing conditions and provide suitable drainage. Drainage is key, no matter where you grow your Gladiolus bulbs but it is of particular importance in containers.

Planting gladioli bulbs

Finding the Right Variety

Finding the right variety is your first step. When you are growing Gladiolus bulbs in pots you need to pick a variety that is ideally shorter. The shorter, smaller varieties grow much better in pots compared to the larger varieties. This does not mean that you cannot successfully grow a larger variety but they will take more work. In fact, if that is what you prefer, and you have the space for it, go for it, you will simply need to make sure that you have something that can provide structural support for the plant. You will also need a substantially larger container with adequate drainage holes and a wide design that is extra stable.

Finding the right container for your Gladioli bulbs

Second, only to picking the variety, the most important consideration is the size of the container. The pot you pick should be at least 40cm deep and 40 cm in diameter. The container has to be big enough for the bulb and provide adequate cover over the bulb, but also deep enough to support the canes at a later date to support the flowers.

Gladioli bulbs need to have at least 6cm of soil beneath them and should be planted about 6 inches deep. You also have to consider drainage. As mentioned, drainage is of particular importance because Gladioli are susceptible to root rot. This means you might have to add gravel or crockery to the bottom of your container to help prevent the holes from getting clogged up which leads to waterlogged soil. If you plan to utilise such measures you will need to get a container with extra room to accommodate the crockery.

Planting Gladioli in containers

When you are ready, add the gravel or crockery to the bottom of the container. Place the potting soil, multi-purpose compost will be fine, into the container halfway. Put the bulbs between 5 and 6 inches deep within the container. If you are planting more than one, which we strongly suggest for the best show, make sure to space them between 6 and 9cm apart. When placing the Gladioli bulbs into the container the flat side should be facing down with the pointed end up.

Growing gladioli can be very rewarding and they put on a spectacular show, learn to plant gladioli bulbs, grow and care for gladioli in our friendly guide now.


One fun tip to employ is to plant multiple bulbs in the same container, but plant them at two-week intervals so that they grow approximately two weeks apart. This adds great variety and extends the longevity of your Gladioli enjoyment.

Once everything is planted, water the bulbs generously. You want to soak the soil so that all of the air pockets settle.

Gladioli care

You should water your plants periodically, usually on a weekly basis. After the watering, you should start to see some stems appear after a few weeks in spring, but they usually take around 60 days to flower from planting. Once the flowers have bloomed you can cut them to make beautiful floral arrangements or you can leave them in place. If you leave the flowers in place you should deadhead them once each flower has bloomed, and once all the flowers on a particular stalk have bloomed you can cut it down to between 15-20cm from the top of the pot.

digging up gladioli after flowering to store over winter

Leave the foliage in place. It helps to produce food that gets stored for the following season. Once the flowers have faded you should still water the bulbs regularly. Eventually, all of the leaves will turn brown and they will die back. Once this happens you can empty the pots, remove the bulbs, and store them in a cool, dry place until next spring. Then plant them once again and repeat the process.

To learn more about growing Gladioli see our detailed growing guide by clicking here

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