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Bulbous Plants

The term bulbous refers to plants that include true bulbs but also plants that grow from tubers, corms and rhizomes. These are the storage organs that enable bulbous plants to cope with difficult growing conditions and long periods of dormancy, during which time there is often nothing or little of the plant visible above ground.
Because many bulbous plants tend to be adapted to tough environments, this makes them invaluable in a garden setting. Many are suitable for the kind of thin, dry and nutrient deficient soil found at the foot of a hot and sunny wall. Others can cope with dry shade and are therefore ideal for planting under deciduous or evergreen trees, where nutrients and soil moisture are at a premium.
Spring-flowering, summer-flowering and autumn-flowering bulbs provide the opportunity to add an extra layer of color to your garden. Plant them under shrubs or between perennials in the flower border or use them to naturalized informally in lawns and orchards, or formally in seasonal bedding display. For splashes of color all around your garden you can also plant the bulbs in the pots.
Bulbous plants ring the seasonal changes throughout the year with glorious flower display. Some possess handsome foliage, others are valued for their flagrance, but above all, their blooms are the most essential. They offer a wide variety of color and form, from bright, primary shades to delicate, pastel hues.
BulbsTrue bulbs are formed from fleshy leaves or leaf bases and most of them consist of concentric rings of scales attached to a basal plate. The outer scales often form a dry, protective skin or tunic and the most known bulbous plants that have this protective skin on their bulb are: Daffodils, Reticulata Irises and Tulips. To other species like some Lilies or Fritillaria the scales are separate and no tunic is formed.
CormsCorms are formed from a swollen bases of stems and are replaced by new corms every year. A corm consists of one or more internodes with at least one growing point. Corms are common to plants like: Crocuses, Gladioli, Romulea and Watsonia whom belong to the Iridiaceae family and usually have a tunic formed from the previous year’s leaf bases, or to genera like Brodiaea and Colchicum form the Liliaceae family.
TubersTuberous is a term applied to many plants with swollen, often irregularly shaped stems or roots used for storage. The term is often misapplied. True tubers of various kind belong to plants like: Dahlia, Corydalis and some orchids.
RhizomesRhizomes are swollen, usually more or less horizontal, underground stems that are found in the Iridiaceae, specially in Irises and in Liliaceae families.

Bulbs in Containers

Bulbs, like most other plants can be grown in containers. Planted in ornamental pots, windowboxes or other types of containers, bulbs will provide a varied and spectacular display which can be extended throughout the season by moving the containers into view as they come to flower to obtain the maximum effect. Choose carefully the bulbs and you will be able to lengthen the season to include late winter as well as spring and summer.

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Bulbs with Alpines

Because most alpine flowers show their bloom in late spring you can add bulbs in the rock garden, trough or raised beds to prolong the flowering season. With their erect habit, upright flowers and spear-like leaves, bulbous plants contrast well with the low, mounded or spreading habit of most alpines. They also introduce a greater variety of forms. Use dwarf bubs with dainty blooms to complement the character of the alpines. Use some bulbs to grow through and lift the alpine planting. To allow your bulbs to grow well in your alpine setting, avoid using mat-forming alpines that exhaust the soil around the bulbs and so deprive them of food.

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Planting Container Bulbs

Spring-flowering bulbs are an excellent choice for containers. They provide interest by their bright colors early in the season and after flowering you can clean and use the pots for summer bedding displays. You can try to combine bulbs with spring-flowering bedding plant for a better spring display. You can also combine bulbs in permanent displays with trees, shrubs and perennials.

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Naturalizing Bulbs

One of the most effective and easiest way to grow bulbs is to plant them in a natural setting where they can be left undisturbed to spread and multiply. The bulbs will flower year after year with the minimum of maintenance, adding interest to otherwise dull areas. Bulbs can be naturalized in lawns, in borders or under the canopy of trees.

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Freesias

They are half hardy, cormous perennials from sandy, lowland soils to rocky upland slopes in South Africa, growing from a corm of 1-2.5 cm diameter, which sends up a tuft of narrow leaves of 10-30 cm long and a sparsely branched stem of 10-40 cm tall bearing a few leaves and a loose one-sided spike of funnel-shaped, usually scented, brightly colored flowers that appear in late winter to early spring. There are both double and single flower forms. Their color may vary from white to pink, orange, red, yellow, blue or lavender.

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Planting Bulbs

naturalize-in-grass-planting image

For adding an extra layer of color to your garden you can use spring-, summer- and autumn-flowering bulbous plants. You can plant them under trees or shrubs, or between perennials in the flower borders, or you can use them to naturalize informally in lawns and orchards, or formally in seasonal bedding displays. Bulbous plants can also be plant in pots for splashes of color all round the garden, on your terrace or patio, or anywhere in the garden where you need extra color.

A general rule to plant bulbs is to place them in the ground at three times their own depth. If they are planted too shallowly they may not flower again for several years. Bulbous plants need a well-drained but moisture retentive soil with an addition of plenty well-rotted organic matter. If your garden soil is a clay one then fork in a bucketful of gritty sand per square meter to improve its quality. Plant bulbs susceptible to rotting, such as: lilies, crown imperial and tulips, on a 2.5 cm layer of grit placed at the bottom of the planting hole. Mix in a special bulb fertilizer or superphosphate before planting.

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Zephyranthes

zephyranthes bloom image

Zephyranthes, on its common name known as Rain Flower, Windflower, Rain Lily, Zephyr Lily, Magic Lily or Fairy Lily is a genus of 71 species of bulbous perennials in the amaryllis family, some of them evergreen. But the most used name for the small and delicate Zephyranthes is Rain Lily because they tend to send up a flush of bloom about four days after each rainy spell. The flowers are erect, funnel-shaped to tubular, often crocus-like and vary in color from white or yellow to pink or red. The flowers appear from spring to autumn.

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Tulips

Red tulip image

Red tulip imageThis diverse, versatile genus is horticulturally classified in 15 divisions based on flower form but may conveniently be grouped by flowering season and garden use.

Tulips include an impressive range of flower forms, from the simple, upright goblets of single-flowered tulips to the frilled and twisted petals of Parrot tulips and the open, double blooms of peony-flowered forms.

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Snowdrops

Snowdrops Image

Snowdrops, on their Latin name Galanthus that mean 'milk-white flowers', are a genus of about 15 species of bulbous perennials that bloom mainly from late winter to mid-spring depending on the region, which makes them the earliest flowering bulb and sometimes they may not even wait for the snow to melt before emerging from their winter sleep just pushing right up through the snow.

The magical sight of the first snowdrop in our gardens give us the earliest sign of spring and with it the promise that winter weather is finally past or close to it. Snowdrops are very hardy plants and can arrive weeks before crocuses, even when there is snow on the ground they can be seen poking their heads above the ground through the snow blanket.

Two or three straplike leaves, dark green, grow from each bulb. Each bulb usually produces a single, pendent, pear-shaped, white flower that sometimes is scented. The three inner petals have green tips and overlap the outer petals to form a tube.

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Muscari

Muscari armeniacum

Muscari armeniacum, on its common name Grape Hyacinth is a genus of 30 species of spring-flowering bulbs in the hyacinth (Hyacinthaceae) family.

Little jewels of the garden, Muscari look absolutely breath-taking, like a sea of blue, forming low carpets of intense color with their spikes of tiny, downward-facing, bell-shaped flowers, specially if planted in huge drifts, spreading out along the edge of the woods or running along a fence line. Typically, they have flowers in shades of blue to purple, but the color range extends to include white and yellow.

Mainly used for woodland gardens, under shrubs and trees and for bedding displays, Muscari are also a good choice for planting in rock gardens, borders, containers, naturalizing in grass or for indoor forcing. They are also excellent as cut flowers. Their beauty is accompanied by the delicious plum-like scent.

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