gladiolus falling over....why?

Ok, we planted about a zillion gladiolus bulbs (cheap at Menards) this spring and to our surprise they most all came up. The problem is that they got VERY tall (some almost 5 feet) and most have fell over before they were even totally in bloom. In short, it just seems like they at "top heavy".
Did we not plant them deep enough, do they need fertilizing, cheap bulbs, etc., or is it just the nature of them?
Also, any chance they will make it over winter in extreme SE Iowa (zone 5)? We know that the books say that you must dig them but as cheap as they are we seriously doubt if most individuals do.
Thanks to all who reply,
Don & Rhonda
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That's pretty much the nature of them - tall gladiolus quite frequently fall over.
You can use plant hoops or some stakes and ties to hold them upright. I take the lazy way out; I just planted mine in a "cutting garden" in the backyard and cut them for bouquets when the bottom bud on each stalk opens. Even if they had already fallen over in the garden, they still stand up in a vase. :-)
There are "hardy gladiolus" (g. byzantius) that are shorter and less likely to fall over, and are supposed to be hardy to zone 5. They are quite pretty, though the flowers are somewhat smaller and the range of colors appears to be white, pink, rose, and bicolors/patterns of these colors. Many of the mail-order nurseries sell these, and they are usually quite cheap. Do a Google search on "hardy gladiolus" and you will get lots of hits. Sometimes my local garden centers also have these in the spring, although usually they just have the regular gladioli.
And Brecks has some new "Glaminis" that supposedly have full-size blooms on a 20" plant. I just got some (on clearance - the full price was $$$!) and I am waiting for them to come up, so I can't speak to their qualities yet.
I can't speak from experience as to their hardiness; I'm in zone 8b, so I usually leave all of my glads in the ground.
HTH, Laura

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Thanks, that's the kind of info that we needed.
Have a great 4th,
Don
Laura wrote:

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Glads can be grown against a fence or wall to be semi-trellised or in any other manner bound upward with minimal effort, & where they'll be protected from winds that knock them down.
Glads are naturally prone to "lodging" or falling over, but a higher percentage will lodge if planted at a shallow depth. Instructions are frequently to plant them near the surface like irises, but planting them a little deeper than the recommended maximum does not hinder them, according to field studies conducted by Farid Uddin et al of the Bangladesh University Department of Horticulture. The only change they observed from planting corms more deeply was fewer of the flower spikes lodged (20 to 33% of shallowly planted corms lodged, but less than 8% of the deeply planted ones lodged).
But many specialists insist (despite the findings of the Bangladesh study) that development will be retarded if they are not planted in the warm zone near the surface. So the traditional recommendation is to start them shallow then build mounds of soil over them when they are at the three to five leaf stage, & earth up a second time when they are at the seven leaf stage. This too will minimalize the percentage that lodge. Personally I'd just plant them a full six inches deep & not worry about earthing up, unless I knew I had unusually tall-spike varieties.
There are also semi-dwarf varieties such as the butterfly glads that are inclined to remain upright without assistance, though even these may lean. There are gladiolus varieties like 'Nova Lux,' 'Eurovision' & 'White Prosperity' which were purportedly developed with higher leaf apex to better support the spikes, so that they will lodge less, but a percentage always will, & they can just be the ones taken first for bouquets. And there are species gladioli that tend to remain upright way better than the hybrids.
When stakes are unavoidable, they only need to be three feet tall to brace the lower part of the stem, so won't much interfer with the overall look of the flowers in the garden.
-paghat the ratgirl
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snipped-for-privacy@netscape.net (paghat) wrote:
"according to field studies conducted by Farid Uddin et al of the Bangladesh University Department of Horticulture."
Bangladesh University Department of Horticulture????? OK. I'll humour you and assume there actually is such a thing. Then why are they researching glads instead of doing something useful, such as researching how to feed all those millions of starving Bangladeshis? Yeah, they have their priorities right, don't they?
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And why are there any horticultural stations in the USA when that all funding could be going to putting an end to racism, poverty, crazy-ass presidents who start wars for made-up reasons, lack of access to an overpriced & underinsured medical system, finding safer cleaner cheaper energy options that don't require crazy-ass presidents to start wars, & proving whether or not the chewing gum loses its flavor on the bedpost overnight.
But seriously chumster, one doesn't build up economic viability for a nation by avoiding investment in economically viable industries, including horticultural. That'll do more good for Bangladesh than any number of sweatshops full of children earning fifty cents a day so you can buy cheap slacks at WalMart.
-paghat the ratgirl
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