Look for these pretty little Byzantine glads blooming around older yards in the whole East Texas area.
Pass-along plants for eons of time, Byzantine glads, so bright and cheery after gloomy winter days, were tra-ded and passed from gardener to gardener. As a child, I knew them as permanent residents in both grandmas’ gardens as well as in many friends’ and neighbors’ gardens.
My grandma used to trade plants with anyone who noticed anything blooming in her yard. My mom did, too, and I grew up seeing lots of plant trading with all the neighbors around the area where we lived.
Who knows how old they were, but grandma got them from her aunt who got them from her grandmother, and on and on, so they had to have some age on them. Luckily, these little bulbs multiplied rapidly and any you gave away were more than replaced by the next year.
I was told once by a dear old fellow who lived across the street from me in Birmingham, Ala., that if someone begged a start of a plant you have and you didn’t share, no matter how small it was, it would die. But if you shared, it would multiply with abandon. I have found that to be true.
Gladiolus byzantinus has been grown for hundreds of years and in this country for at least a couple of hundred. They grow well in heavy clay soils (my folks lived on the coastal prairies — very heavy gumbo clay). They also do well in most areas here.
They like growing all spring in moist soils and can go dry in summer while dormant. No wonder they do so well here — since we normally have wet springs and dry summers. They bloom along with irises and other later-spring flowers. If they get enough sun, they will stand straight up, but will flop in too much shade. I have most of mine in part shade and they do fine.
Our Master Gardeners usually have these bulbs to sell at our fall bulb sale, so if you do not know someone who has them, come and get some next October at our sale.
Dee Bishop is a Smith County Master Gardener. She writes about plants growing within the Tyler Rose Garden.