. . . BULBS - info, photos and growing tips
Even if your new to gardening, chances are you've probably already heard of, or planted some bulbs. But you may not know just what the heck a bulb is. Technically, a bulb is an underground bud.
It contains all the elements of the flowering plant: stem, leaves, root beginnings and the flower. The embryonic flower is fully formed inside the bulb. True bulbs store food in modified leaf tissue or scales. These scales enable the plant to survive a long dormant period, and then put out fresh foliage and a flower as soon as weather conditions permit.
Success with flowering bulbs depends largely on the care you take at planting time. Because a bulb contains everything from embryonic leaves and flowers to the nutrients for sustaining growth through its first growing season, it requires little if any maintenance once planted. Most bulbs will multiply and reward you with increased bloom in years to come.
Hardy bulbs - Bulbs that can be left in the ground safely all year even where frost penetrates deeply into the soil. Most of the beloved bulbs of spring are in this category - crocus, daffodils, tulips and hyacinths are the most familiar ones. Lilies and some other summer-blooming bulbs are also hardy. Bulbs can be planted from late summer into fall, or as soon as they arrive.
Tender bulbs - Bulbs that can't survive frost. Some, like Anemone de Caen, may be left in the ground year-round in some areas with mild winter; in the North, you must dig up the bulbs before fall frost, winter them indoors and plant again in spring. Other tender bulbs, like the big showy hybrid Amaryllis, are primarily grown indoors in winter.
The term "bulb" is often used to describe not only a true bulb, but corms, rhizomes, tubers, and tuberous roots as well. While horticulturists like to be technically correct when discussing various plants, most home gardeners do not worry about being that precise.
Home gardeners should however, be aware of the differences in plant structures when determining
a specific plant's culture. The following definitions may be helpful.
The Little Bulbs
Are the first ones to go into the ground, because they are the first ones to bloom. Some of the littlest bulbs are Snowdrops, Winter Aconites, Chionodoxa, species Tulips and Grape Hyacinths.
If you plant them near your house, these early bloomers are a welcome sight on a dull wintry day. A south wall is especially suited to small bulbs, for if the sun is brave in February, these little bulbs will often bloom.
Which End Up
Even though it might seem ridiculous; I want to remind everyone that there is a top and bottom to a bulb, because some have goofed and planted theirs upside down. The nose or tapered portion of the bulb is the top, and the broad heavy base is the bottom.
Bulbs like narcissus are hard to plant upside down because they have a long pointed top, but the more rounded ones like hyacinth, tulips and crocus can be deceiving. If you keep the nose pointed up, everything should bloom nicely.
Speaking of Bulbs
If you are planting bulbs it is a good idea to make some kind of planting chart or garden plan. On it you should include where you are planting the bulbs, how many of each and what varieties. Any kind of chart will do.
This will help insure that you don't accidently dig out your bulbs when planting annuals or other plants in the same beds. Also each year as new bulbs are added, there is less chance of color clashes, no guessing where other bulbs are planted, or planting them on top of one another.