Home and Garden : Spring Bulbs

Good Morning from Rainy Louisiana. The March weather has been warm and wet – perfect for my Spring bulbs I planted in October. I have always been amazed at the whole process of planting bulbs and waiting for them to GROW. So today it’s all about growing bulbs and showing off my flowers from my garden.

The term “bulb” is used by most people to refer to plants that have underground, fleshy storage structures. Only some of the plants commonly called bulbs actually are bulbs. The definition of a bulb is any plant that stores its complete life cycle in an underground storage structure.

The primary function of these underground storage structures is to store nutrient reserves to ensure the plants’ survival.

Bulbs or bulb-like plants are usually perennials. They have a period of growth and flowering. This is followed by a period of dormancy where they die back to ground level at the end of each growing season. For spring bulbs, the end of the growing season is in late spring or early summer. Spring bulbs start to grow again in the fall and flower the following growing season.

True Bulb

The true bulb has five major parts. It contains the basal plate (bottom of bulb from which roots grow), fleshy scales (primary storage tissue), tunic (skin-like covering that protects the fleshy scales), the shoot (consisting of developing flower and leaf buds), and lateral buds (develop into bulblets or offsets).

True bulbs are divided into tunicate bulbs and imbricate bulbs. A tunicate bulb has a paper-like covering or tunic that protects the scales from drying and from mechanical injury.

Good examples of tunicate bulbs include: tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, grape hyacinths (muscari), and alliums.

Many plants such as daffodils form new bulbs around the original bulb. These bulbs, called offsets, develop from buds within the base of the mother bulb and produce new plants. When these bulbs become overcrowded,the flowers start to diminish in size. This is an indication that it is time to dig up and divide the bulbs.

Common Hyacinth – Hyacinthus orientalis

Family: Liliaceae (Lily) Zone 5

How to Plant: bulb; plant 7 inches deep and 6 to 9 inches apart in fall

Habit: upright; 12 inches

Foliage: 4 to 6 basal leaves; strap-shaped; margins upturned; 1 inch wide and up to 12 inches long

Flower: many flowers in showy, crowded, terminal raceme; individual flowers about 1 inch across; very fragrant; yellow, rose, pink, blue, salmon and white; mid-spring

Culture: full sun; good drainage; fertile soil amended with organic matter and sand; remove spent flower stalks; floral display gradually decreases each year – dig and discard bulbs as necessary; flowers too rigid for naturalizing; many named cultivars available

Daffodil, Narcissus, Jonquil – Narcissus species

Family: Amaryllidaceae (Amaryllis) Zone varies

How to Plant: bulb; plant 6 inches deep and 6 to 12 inches apart (smaller species bulbs require more shallow placement)

Habit: upright; 6 to 24 inches

Foliage: about 3/4 inch wide; up to 15 inches long; shiny green

Flower: one or several flowers to a stalk; 6 lower segments white or yellow; trumpet long and tubular or short and cuplike, white, pink, yellow, orange and orange-red; flowers single or double; extremely variable – Narcissus are grouped into 12 named divisions; early spring to spring

Bulb tips:

Place the bulbs with the pointy-end up and with the roots down. If you’re not sure of the top or bottom of the bulb, plant it on its side and it will find its way to the surface. Cover with soil and a light layer of mulch. Newly planted bulbs should be watered well to get settled in.

Most bulbs can be left underground all year or stored inside after they’ve bloomed. After your bulbs have flowered, don’t remove their leaves while they’re still green; always let the foliage die back on its own. Bulbs gain their strength from their foliage, helping them grow and produce new flowers next year.

When the bloom appears, give the plant full sun, if possible. After the bloom is spent, cut it off to prevent the bulb from expending energy on trying to keep it alive. The most important bulb care after forcing is to leave the foliage intact until it dies back

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