Gladiolus (Gladiolus (Tourn) L.), known as "Queen of the bulbous flowers" is an ornamental bulbous plant is popular for its majestic spikes having array of beautiful colours with long lasting flower. Now-a-days in India, it has become a popular cut flower among growers and ranked as a fourth important cut flower. In various flower and decoration arrangements gladiolus is prime cut flower but its very important to keep them fresh for long duration. To keep gladiolus fresh and at presentable form it requires ample clean water and heavy nutrients in vase solutions so that each floret on spike remains open till end.

Different strategies for longer freshness

Time of harvesting:

Gladiolus should be harvested at tight bud stage or 2-3 lower florets showing colour. Preferably spikes should harvest at morning or evening with sharp cut at end and immediately keep in water to remove field heat. Spikes always should keep in vertical positions to avoid bending.

Removal of lower foliage:
Spikes should harvest by keeping some leaves on the plant. The remaining leaves with spike should be removed completely as it may rot and encouraging the proliferation of bacteria in water. Any excess foliage should also be removed as a great deal of water is lost through the leaves.

Cutting stem ends:
Harvesting should be done with sharp knife so that it gives single sharp cut to avoid the injuries to other part of stem. The basal 2.5 cm of stems should have slanting cut by sharp knife before putting in vase water. The advantage of slant cut is that it exposes greater cut stem area for increased water uptake. Splitting or crushing of cut stem end obstruct water uptake. It is advisable to cut the stem ends when they are in water. This does not allow air through cut ends which obstruct water uptake.

Water and nutrients:
Bulky gladiolus spikes requires ample amount of water and nutrients for proper opening of florets and it is known that acidic water moves up more readily in cut stems. Therefore, some acidifying agents like citric acid or lemon should be added in vase solution. Flower nutrient solutions are also available in market keep the water free of microorganisms, provide sucrose as energy source and thus increase the shelf-life of cut flowers. Nutrient solution can also be prepared at home. For this mix 50% warm water and 50% carbonated lemon drinks (Dew, Sprite, Limca, etc.) and add one-and-a-half teaspoon of household bleach. The drink contains sugar as a source of energy and citric acid acts as an acidifier. Due to transpiration from foliage and flowers and evaporation, water is lost from vase solution. This must be compensated with adding water ensuring that cut stem ends are never exposed to air.

Where to keep flower vase:
The site selection for gladiolus flower agreements and vase are important as flowers are delicate entity and can get wilted with little adverse conditions. A light and cool spot should be selected for keeping vases and flower arrangements. Direct sunlight, proximity to heaters, air conditioning units and draughts should be avoided as these dehydrate the florets. Any floret or leaf that are damaged or wilted must be removed, as they may affect the life of the rest of the florets.

Care in vase:
Keeping gladiolus spike in water/nutrient solution leads to formation of blockage and microbial growth at the base of stem which ultimately affects the water uptake. Moreover, to keep gladiolus spikes fresh with original colour intact it requires ample water to be added in vase. Therefore, frequent water change and re-cutting the stem ends ensures steady flow of water to the stem. If flower foods are not used one should change the water and re-cut the stems every two days. In case of use of flower foods re-cutting every five days is enough.

Flower arrangements:
Flower spikes used in arrangements has less vase life compared to flowers in vases. Spikes with lower 1-2 florets opened should be used for arrangements. Foam is used for making flower arrangements which need frequent watering as it tends to dries out quickly. Clean water should be sprayed on spikes to keep them in fresh condition with small hand sprayer.

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