All About BulbsHardy and Tender
From small, drab, lump-like storehouses which hold the life of a
plant, bulbs redeem themselves with blooms each spring. Knowing the different types of
bulbs can help you plant the right bulb in the right location. Your questions about
gardening with bulbs can be answered by the experts at your Growise Center.
Know the difference
TRUE BULB--hardy and has a flower bud within it surrounded by
layers of food supply. Includes hyacinth, daffodil, tulip, winter aconite, snowdrop,
striped squill, Siberian squill, glory-of-the-snow, and hardy lilies. Winter aconite,
snowdrop, and striped squill flower in February or March. Fall crocus, saffron crocus,
autumn crocus, and winter daffodil add surprise to the fall garden.
CORM--a solid mass of stored food, with roots growing from a
baseplate with small buds on top. Examplescrocus, gladiolus, peacock orchid, and
RHIZOME a swollen, solid underground stem.
Examplesbearded iris, calla lily, canna lily, and tuberose.
TUBERa swollen, rounded stem covered with small scaly
leaves and growth buds (eyes). Examplesgloriosa lily, tuberous begonia, caladium,
TUBEROUS ROOT similar to a tuber, but is a swollen, rounded
root, not a modified stem, with growth buds on its base, not its surface.
WHEN AND WHERE TO PLANT BULBS
Plant in the fall before deep frost hardens the ground.
Plant where bulbs can bloom in afternoon shade. Color will be
retained; blooms will last longer.
In rock gardensPlant small bulbs--crocus, squills, grape
hyacinths, snowdrops, winter aconite, and iris reticulata in massed plantings Use 3
or 4 dozen in spots where deciduous trees and shrubs have not leafed out yet in the
In bordersPlant bulbs where blooms of annuals, biennials,
and perennials will soon follow.
In natural settingGently toss handfuls of bulbs--crocuses,
hyacinths, and daffodils. Plant them where they land to look like they are growing wild.
In formal garden--For a spectacular bed, plant a single color or
a geometric design of hyacinths and tulips in purple and a contrasting plant such as white
pansies. Try pale blue hyacinths with bright yellow tulips or daffodils for a striking
Soil for bulbs
Drainage is important. Poor drainage impairs root growth and bulb
Improve clay soil in beds, borders, and massed areas. Add peat or
vermiculite to a depth of 12 inches. Where very sandy, work in peat or compost. Plant
tulips deep in well-drained areas; then you can plant annuals over them once foliage dies.
For more information on planting and fertilizing bulbs, visit
your Growise Center.
Unlike hardy bulbs, tender bulbs must be dug up and stored for
winter in all but the mildest regions. In cold climates, tender bulbs are grown as
annuals, discarded at seasons end or wintered over. In southern climates, they
remain in the ground year-round.
WINTER CARE FOR POPULAR TENDERS
CALADIUMDig tuber before first hard frost. Dry for a week
in a dry place. Store dormant tubers in dry peat at 40 degrees F. Overwinter potted plants
CALLA LILYDig rhizome after frost. Dry in shade for a few
days. Store in boxes in dry peat at 45 to 55 degrees F.
CANNA LILYDig rhizome before frost. Leave 14 inches of top
attached; do not clean or divide. Dust with fungicide to protect against snails and slugs.
Keep roots dry at 45 to 55 degrees F.
CYCLAMENTuber best undisturbed to self-sow. Possibly hardy
in Zone 5 or colder with winter mulch or snow cover.
DAHLIADig after dieback or first frost . Cut back to
six-inch stems. Hose off dirt; dry in shade for a week. Store at 45 degrees F in boxes,
undivided, in dry sand or peat. Divide in spring when tuber has one bud or
GLADIOLUSDig eight weeks after last blooms fade or after
first frost. Cut tops to within a few inches of the corm. Place in box, and leave in
well-ventilated place two weeks at 75 degrees F. Dust with all-purpose garden dust. Break
off tops. Store at near 45 degrees F.
TUBEROUS BEGONIADig near first frost time. Dry tubers two
weeks. Remove soil and stems. Store in peat or sand at 45 to 60 degrees F.
Bulbs can live for years and multiply, so plant them in large
numbers. You will be investing in many glorious springs.