All About Bulbs
Bulbs can provide your garden with a backdrop of greenery and color. You can plant flowering bulbs to provide a continuous splash of color throughout the year.
Flowering Bulbs for Year Round Garden Color
Flowering bulbs are some of the most popular flowers used for gardens. Depending on the USDA hardiness zone where you live, you may need to dig up the bulbs each fall and store them during the winter to replant in time for spring, summer and fall blooms.
Spring Flower Bulbs
Summer Flower Bulbs
Bulb plants offer brilliant summer flowers for a pop of color in your summer gardens. With proper care and planning, dahlia, begonia, and anemone bulb plants can keep your garden in bloom from early spring to the first frost of fall. Other flower bulbs you may want to consider adding to your summer garden include day lilies, canna lilies, calla lilies, gladiolus, freesia, and ranunculus.
Fall Flower Bulbs
Fall flower bulbs offer you texture to your garden with foliage and beautiful blooms. The fall flower bulbs include autumn crocus, calla lilies, climbing lily, dahlia, lily-of-the-Nile, rain lilies, peacock orchids, nerine, sternbergia, cyclamen, and begonia.
Winter Flower Bulbs
If your region has mild winters, you may be able to grow more than a handful of winter hardy bulb flowers. The winter flower bulbs include cyclamen coum (known as eastern sowbread or Persian violet), snowdrop, and winter aconite.
Bulb Plants for Your Garden
You may want to include a few bulb plants to provide interesting foliage to your garden. Caladium plants come in all sizes and beautiful multi-colors. Elephant ear is a tropical bulb plant that produces huge leaves. Hostas are an all-time favorite for a garden spot that receives morning sun and afternoon shade.
Bulbs Plants and Flowers for Container Gardens
Bulb plants and flowers are great choices for container gardens or potted plants. You can choose bulb plants, like caladium, to add color and greenery to your patio or deck garden. You can move them indoors when the season is over.
Grow Bulb Flowers Indoors
Bulb flowers, such as gladiolus, amaryllis, tulips, and hyacinths, are popular indoor bulb flowers. Some, such as amaryllis, are synonymous with Christmas plants. However, you can grow amaryllis year round under controlled indoor environments.
Forcing bulbs to bloom indoors is easy and provides beautiful flowers during the winter months. Amaryllis and paperwhites are spectacular flowers that are simple to force. Other plants such as tulips, daffodils, and crocus require a cooling period to fool the bulbs into believing they've gone through winter and it's the spring and time to bloom.
How to Grow Garden Bulb Plants and Flowers
Many gardeners steer around bulbs, falsely believing they require too much work. Not all environments require you to dig up the bulbs, store during winter, and then replant in the spring. However, you will want to thin out your bulb beds every two to three years to prevent overcrowding that can set up conditions for diseases.
Sun and Shade Bulb Plants
Most flowering bulb plants do best in full sun or partial shade. Some bulb flowers and bulb plants, such as snowdrops, crocuses, lily of the valley, some tulips and daffodil varieties, prefer shade.
Most bulbs are planted 6" - 8" deep. Early flowering varieties can also be planted under deciduous trees, since they come up before trees leaf out in the spring.
Soil, Water, and Fertilizer
Bulbs require well-drained soil. If your soil is heavy, you can amend it with organic material, such as compost and/or peat moss. You'll water the bulbs once a week with about one-inch of water. You'll need to fertilize the bulb plants before they bloom so the plant can take advantage of the nutrients to produce the burst of flowers. Summer flowering bulbs are fertilized in the spring and then every six weeks during the growing season.
Anatomy of a Bulb
True bulb varieties, such as tulips and daffodils, feature corms, tubers, and rhizomes. Crocuses and gladioli are really corms. Plants such as dahlias and begonias are actually tubers. To appreciate the significance of these differences, you must first understand the terminology of the bulb anatomy.
- Croms are underground stems of the plant.
- Tubers are like the eyes of a potato where a bud will sprout.
- Rhizomes are horizontally growing stems.
Growth and Dormancy
Bulb plants have a period of growth and flowering followed by a period of dormancy. When the bulb goes dormant, it dies back to the ground and grows again when the weather is warmer.
Growing Plants and Flowers With Bulbs
Bulbs are a great way to add plants to your garden. Once you understand the life cycle of a bulb plant or flower, you can begin to enjoy having these amazing plants in your garden.