Bulb plants are essentially plants that grow from underground storage organs. Roots grow out of the bottom of the bulb (rhizome or corm) and plants grow up from it. All growth stems from this basic storage organ.
This storage organ can be a bulbs, rhizomes, tuberous roots or corms, however all of these plants will generally be referred to as for ease of discussion.
When discussing the individual plants the specific growing systems will be addressed as this will be important to know for purposes of over-wintering and dividing.
Bulb plants are a great way to add color and pizazz to your garden. The flowers that are produced from these plants, while not very long-lived, are some of the most dynamic and attractive in the garden!
Not all are created equal, however, and
you’ll have to know what is required to care for each plant as it pertains to
your geographical area.
Some bulbs can be “naturalized”, or in other
words…planted so as to mimic flowers that would come up naturally without any
human intervention. These plants are essentially planted once, and then left
alone. A good example of bulbs that have been naturalized are those that are
grown in a woodland garden, such as daffodil flowers and Siberian squill. Bulbs
are tossed, or scattered throughout the area, and planted wherever they fall.
Daffodils will increase in number year after year, and Siberian squill will
spread by dropping seed.
Some bulbs are considered “hardy” depending on your
area’s hardiness zone.These are planted in fall or
spring, and then left in the ground for several years before any maintenance is
required. A good example of a hardy bulb in zone 5 is the tulip bulb.
Tulips can be planted in the fall and remain in the ground over winter, blooming again
in spring. These bulbs actually NEED a winter freeze, or dormant/cold period,
in order to complete their growing cycle. If you live in a warmer climate,
these bulbs may be considered “non-hardy” and you would have to dig them up in
fall, and create a “winter period” for them by refrigerating them.
Other bulbs are considered to be “non-hardy”
depending on the geographic zone, and need to be dug up after the first frost
of the winter in order to survive. These bulbs require a bit more maintenance
than I usually care to embark upon, but I have to admit that some bulbs are
worth it…such as the canna or calla lily. A row of canna strategically planted
can produce a beautiful, tropical looking screen with these plants getting to
be as tall as 5 feet!
When shopping for , the 3 most important
factors to take into consideration are:
- Bloom time
- Zone hardiness
- Light requirements
Bloom time will help you decide which bulbs you want
in your garden. If early spring color is your primary objective, for example, but you
decide to plant gladiolus, you’ll be disappointed to find that you have to wait
until mid-summer before these flowers are in full bloom.
Zone hardiness will help you determine what bulbs
can remain in the soil over winter, and which must be dug up in order to
survive. Know yourself well and how much maintenance you want to give to your
plants! If you prefer low-maintenance plants, you should select bulbs that are
hardy in your geographical area.
It is also critically important to abide by the
light requirements for any particular plant you are working with. If you take a
bulb that requires “full sun” and plant it in deep shade, it will not flower
properly, if at all. Considering how much time and effort you’re investing to
get your plants in the ground, you want to be sure you’re reaping the rewards
of your labor. Give each plant the amount of light it requires to reach its
Let’s discuss a few of the that are
popular in the Midwest United States. Keep in mind that some of these plants
may be considered non-hardy for this area, but hardy farther south. Investigate
which are most common in your geographic area before planting. (If
this is something that is completely foreign to you, a good place to start is
your local garden center. Ask to speak to one of the horticulturists working
there for more information on bulbs in your area.)
The following plants are ordered (generally) in
terms of bloom time from early Spring through Fall.
- Crocus Bulbs
- Siberian Squill
- Virginia Bluebells
- Grape Hyacinth
- Hyacinth flowers
- Daffodil bulbs
- Tulip bulbs
- Crown Imperial
- Iris Plants (Siberian and Bearded)
- Allium Flowers
- Lily plants
- Tuberous Begonia
- Canna bulbs
- Dahlia Flowers
- Gladiolus Bulbs
For those of you who have yet to plant any bulbs in your yard, I would
recommend starting with the tulip or daffodil flower as long as you reside in
zones 3 through 8. These bulbs produce the most dramatic, reliable flowers and
are relatively low maintenance and fool proof.
Soon I will be adding a video that will walk folks through the process for planting bulbs. Until then, please refer to this page for information on how to plant .
Don’t let the title, “how to plant tulips” fool you…those
instructions will work for the majority of plants listed on this page.
knowing the best method, grab a pack of bulbs at your local garden center and throw them
in the ground. While the “proper planting method” will help ensure reliable
healthy flowers year after year, it’s hard to go wrong with bulbs.
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