A Quick Guide to Choosing and Planting Bulbs

Bulbs are the fleshy underground protuberances of leaves, stems or roots. Actually, “bulb” is a generic term, and some of these underground protuberances, all of which will grow into full plants, are more correctly called “corms” or “tubers.” Tubers are thickened stem sections, covered with modified buds; corms are also underground stem sections, but without the bud.

Planting Bulbs

bulbs springs news to come outdoors

Bulbs should be planted from 3 to 6 inches deep, and, as a rule of thumb, the larger the bulb, the deeper it should be planted. (Both tubers and corms are treated similar to bulbs.) Using a spade, a slice is dug in the soil to the required depth, the bulbs placed in the hole and the sod replaced. If the soil is poor, a sprinkling of bone meal is added and mixed with the soil at the bottom of the hole.

Each spring, flowering bulbs should be well-fertilized. (Use manure and chemical fertilizer.) Care must be taken to keep fresh manure away from the roots or the bulb or tuber itself. The fertilizer should be worked well into the soil. The soil itself should be cultivated to a depth of 3 to 4 inches each week. During the blooming season, it is a good idea to cut off most of the buds to get bigger and showier flowers. Watering regularly is essential, and when the soil gets too dry, punching a few holes in it around the plant will help get the much-needed moisture down near the roots.

Bulbs that produce flower in the spring

Among the important spring flowering bulbs are a number of the tulip types, some blossoming as early as April. These early tulips include albion, coleur cardinal and pink beauty. Double and Darwin tulips flower slightly later in the spring than some other varieties. Other spring-flowering bulbs include the varieties of narcissus, grape hyacinth, snowdrop, crocus, winter aconite iris and trumpet jonquil (or daffodils).

Bulbs that produce flower in summer

Summer-flowering bulbs require the same planting procedure as the earlier varieties. Some typical summer-flowering species include:

  • Autumn crocus
  • Gladiolus
  • Cluster amaryllis
  • Lilies
  • Bearded iris
  • Dahlia
  • Peonies
  • Summer hyacinth
  • Calla lily
  • Mariposa

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