The Value of Flowering Bulbs

A bulb has been described as the neatest packaging job ever devised. Folded within the package, with miraculous skill and economy, are all the next season’s leaves and right in the centre is the bud that will one day burst into a delightful flower. Warmth and moisture are needed to trigger off the natural growing process but planting bulbs is one way to become a successful gardener without worry or skill.

Although their actual formation is somewhat different, the same ease of culture is true of corms, tubers and rhizomes which, together with true bulbs, are usually referred to as ‘bulbous plants’. Many gardeners are confused over the structural differences between bulbs and the other bulbous plants but they all have the same function. This is to tide the plant over adverse weather conditions such as drought or severe cold. They all store food, which enables rapid growth when placed under suitable conditions, and share the same life cycle. During growth and flowering, next year’s flower is formed in miniature and food manufactured by the leaves is passed back to be stored in order to restart the cycle. After flowering the leaves and roots of that year’s growth fade away to leave the swollen storage organ and the embryo flower and leaves of the next year.

With a little planning you can use a wide range of these bulbous plants to give a lovely display of flowers the whole year round and not only in spring and early summer as is frequently assumed.



By late February, snowdrops and crocuses emerge as the heralds of advancing spring and then, in an unbroken succession of bloom, come the delightful Kaufmanniana and brilliant Fosteriana tulips, the cheerful little muscari, the golden daffodils, blue scillas and bright and pretty chionodoxas. By mid-April, the fragrant hyacinths and Single and Double Early tulips are flowering bravely followed by the lovely Mendel and Triumph tulips and red-cupped narcissi. Then come the full-flowered tulips of May, the graceful Cottage and Lily-flowered types and the stately Darwins in a multitude of colours.

You will get more fun and pleasure from your garden if you keep the scale of things in mind. Single Early tulips, for example, look particularly well in front of a low stone wall while the taller-growing Darwin and Cottage types are better sited in front of tall shrubs or against a high fence. Low-growing Kaufmannianas will look lovely in a rock garden. Tulips may be grown in shady or wooded areas, as well as in sunny spots. Planted in partial shade they last at least ten days longer than when planted in the sun.

Muscari blend in almost anywhere and bluebells flower simultaneously with the longer-stemmed tulips. Hyacinths combine admirably with early tulips and small-cupped narcissi. When planted in groups in the borders, their beauty is enhanced if they are interplanted with white arabis, golden alyssum, aubrietas, double daisies and other spring bedding favourites.

Since daffodils can stand more shade than many other bulbs, their natural place in the garden is among shrubs, planted irregularly in grass or other less formal parts, or grouped at the back of the herbaceous border. Narcissi combine excellently with early tulips and hyacinths, while chionodoxa and muscari are also good companions.

Most gardeners would not be without gladioli, lilies and dahlias but few have explored the wide range of summer-flowering bulbs which provide rich colour with an abundance of flowers over a long period. They are easy to grow and are certain to bring pleasure and enjoyment.

There are many unusual and attractive forms to bring delight to every corner of the garden, from beds and borders to the rock garden. Stem heights range from under 12 in. to over 3 ft. with a colour range to vie with a rainbow. Below is a brief guide to summer garden pleasure with spring-planted bulbs.

If you want an autumn and early winter display in your garden you should plan a special summer bulb planting operation. Only a few kinds of bulbs are involved. These are: Amaryllis belladonna, colchicums, autumn crocus, hardy cyclamen and sternbergias. The rewarding results appear from September into December in the form of colourful, elegant flowers.

07. July 2011 by admin
Categories: Bulbs and Corms, Plants | Tags: , | Comments Off on The Value of Flowering Bulbs


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