GABE LICHT Delano Herald Journal Editor For Jim and Karen Otto, “glad” is more than an ad- jective meaning pleased and delighted; it’s the nick- name for the ower that makes them feel that way: the gladiolus. And, just as there is no such thing as too much gladness, there is also no such thing as too many glads for the Ottos. The origin of the gladiolus A member of the iris family, the gladiolus originat - ed in the Cape Floristic Region near the southern tip of South Africa. It got its name from the Latin word for sword, gladius, and is sometimes called the “sword lily,” due to its long stem that bears many orets. The Ottos’ passion for gladioli originated with Kar - en’t mother, Clara Merriman. “I grew up with them,” Karen said. “My mom just loved glads.” “I always helped her with her garden,” Jim said. “Pretty soon, I’m out there planting four rows. No big deal. She was in the lawn chair telling me what to do.” Jim cut bouquets for his mother-in-law, and also de - livered bouquets around Delano for others to enjoy. Karen remembers taking her mother to St. Charles to meet hybridizer Carl Fischer, who made her day when he placed a big bouquet of pink glads in her arms, and gave her a kiss on the cheek. When Merriman passed away in 2001, everyone who attended her funeral received a gladiolus bulb and a poem. Jim inherited the remaining bulbs, and he still has some to this day. “Isn’t that interesting how they keep growing? We take good care of them,” Karen said. Care and showmanship The bulbs are dug in the fall, dried, and stored in mesh bags at 40 degrees in the couple’s heated garage. “If they get too warm, they’ll sprout. If they freeze, you’re done,” Jim said. He keeps them all organized – all 12,000 of them – by variety and size. They have 200 varieties that come in ve different sizes. Some varieties include Lemon Meringue, American Beauty, Strawberry Shortcake, and Star Performer. In the spring, the Ottos plant the glads in rows about 6 inches deep and 4 inches apart. They spread the planting over a period of about two weeks, so they bloom at different times. They take 75 to 90 days to mature. As the glads grow, Jim waters them regulary and sprays them about every 10 days to protect them against diseases and insects called thrips. “If you get bugs, you’re out,” Jim said. “We want good, healthy owers,” Karen added. Young gladioli that look especially promising are of - ten staked down, to keep them upright. “I want them to stay perfectly straight,” Jim said. “If they bend, the blossoms could touch the dirt. They’re not show-quality then.” How many hours does Jim spend caring for glads? “Too many hours,” daughter Stacy Zitzloff said. “He’s usually here from the break of dawn to sun - down. He’s very dedicated.” 2021 has been an especially dif cult year, given the extreme heat for multiple days in a row and lack of precipitation, Zitzloff said. “It’s very stressful on the glads,” Jim said. “When you water them, they really pop.” Showing glads is a big deal for the Ottos. They show them at county fairs, the Minnesota State Fair, the Minnesota Gladiolus Society show in New Ulm, and Honker Flats in Middle River in Sep - tember. To present glads, they should be cut at an angle about 18 inches below the rst orets when there are two or three orets open. Annandale | Buffalo | Cokato | Darwin | Dassel | Delano | Glencoe | Howard Lake | Hutchinson | Kimball | Lester Prairie Litch eld | Loretto | Maple Lake | Maple Plain | Mayer | Montrose | Mound | New Germany | Norwood Young America Rockford | Silver Lake | South Haven | St. Bonifacius | Waconia | Watertown | Waverly | Winsted Senior Con n e c t ion s is distributed to: GLADIOULUS from Pg 1 September/October 2021 VOLUME 3 | NO. 5 Senior Con n e ct ion s HJ.COM Glads galore Jim and Karen Otto grow 12,000 gladiolus bulbs on their property near Delano.