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If you garden in a cold climate with a short growing season, you know the frustration of growing late-season flowers like glads. They take so long to bloom that you run the risk of not even seeing your blooms if an early frost happens! And glads are so frost tender, that they’ll be instantly ruined.

After a few years of getting cheated out of my Gladiolus blooms, I started forcing my Gladiolus corms early indoors–almost guaranteeing that I would get to enjoy my flowers in bloom. The process is super simple. All you need are some corms, a south-facing window or grow light and water.

A progression of 6 gladiolus corms, from simple corm, to various root growth, to leaf growth, to ready to plant glad.

If you prefer to watch rather than read, check out the videos below. Otherwise, keep reading for step-by-step instructions for starting Glads indoors and my answers to common questions!

Step by Step Instructions for Starting Gladiolus Corms Indoors

  1. Find a shallow container for the corms to sit in, like a tray, pie plate, etc.
  2. Place corms pointy side up in a single layer in the container.
  3. Fill with water until it reaches about a third of the way up the corm.
  4. Place near a south-facing window or underneath a grow light.
  5. Refill the water to the same level as needed. Don’t let the roots that grow dry out.
  6. Once all risk of frost has passed, harden off the glads.
  7. Plant the gladiolus corms outdoors in holes 4 inches deep.

When do Gladiolus Corms Need to Be Started?

Typically, you should start the corms around 4 to 5 weeks before your final frost date.

For me in my Zone 3 garden in Saskatchewan, Canada, this means I’m starting them around the middle of April and planting them outdoors the third or fourth week of May.

Do Gladiolus Corms Need to Be Soaked Before Planting?

Technically no. You could skip this process altogether and just plant your corms outdoors after the risk of frost has passed. However, you run into the problem mentioned above: you might not get to see your blooms.

If you choose to soak them but don’t want to start them so early, it would likely still give your glads a little head start. Anything you can do to help ensure your glads thrive in your short growing season, the better!


No and no! You can pot gladiolus bulbs up in soil if you like, but it’s not necessary. As long as you keep the roots moist, the corms will be fine.

As for starting them early, you can do this so you have successions of glads, but it’s completely up to you. It isn’t necessary to start glads earlier than I’ve described above. As long as you start them indoors, you will be most likely to see those beautiful blooms in your cold-climate garden!

And that’s it! A quick, simple hack to starting gladiolus bulbs indoors to ensure you get to see those beautiful blooms! I hope you feel inspired to try growing some gladiolus this spring. And if you do, find me on Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube to share your journey and follow mine!

If you need more help with your cut flower garden and putting everything together, you’ll love Cut Flowers Made Simple. It’s the cheapest and easiest way to start a cut flower garden in your backyard. Or you can even use it as a way to dip your toes into flower farming!

Learn more here.

If you’ve made it this far, and you’re thinking that you need a more complete solution that will take you from seed starting to seed saving, you’ll want to check out the Ultimate Cut Flower Bundle instead.

Kristen Raney

Kristen Raney

Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots.  She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden.  She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.

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Hi, I'm Kristen and I help new gardeners learn to grow their own vegetables and beautify their yards. I also share recipes that use all that delicious garden produce. Grab a coffee (and your gardening gloves) and join me for gardening tips, simple recipes, and the occasional DIY, all from the lovely city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

P.S. First time gardener? You'll want to download the quick start gardening guide below!