Bulb Plants: The Basics About Bulbs & How To Grow Them

Published: 13/12/2023 | Updated: 19/12/2023

Bulb Plants: The Basics About Bulbs & How To Grow Them - Shrubhub


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It's cause for celebration when flowers begin to bloom again in the spring after a long, chilly winter. Some of the most upbeat garden blooms include tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. These plants share more than just a blooming season; they also all originate from bulbs. You just need to know when and how to plant the bulbs for a beautiful display of flowers.

The idea is to let the bulbs settle in and chill out for a while before the earth freezes and prevents them from growing any roots. Leaves and flowers will begin to develop after they have been exposed to the sun and cold temperatures for an extended period. Learn when and how to plant these outstanding spring-flowering bulbs.

About Bulbs

Planting bulbs is a great idea because they're practically failsafe. They will still bloom if planted too deeply, too shallow, or even upside down.

In addition to beauty, they make for a fantastic financial investment. Proper maintenance will encourage them to multiply, so you can enjoy more blooms and plants each year.

Amazingly adaptable, they can be used anywhere from a filler in a border to a springtime ground cover when they break through the turf and tower above the foliage and everything else. They perform equally well in both indoor gardens and outdoor pots.


Bulb Plants: The Basics About Bulbs & How To Grow Them - Shrubhub

What Are Bulbs?

At the end of the growing season, plants produce bulbs by storing energy and nutrients underground, much like charging a battery.

During the winter, when the plant is dormant, it saves these nutrients. The power stored in the bulb is ready to be released the next year, allowing tender bulbs of the plant to revive and bloom once more.

What this means is that the bulb already knows how good its new growth and flowers will be.

Choose the largest, healthiest-looking bulbs you can afford. Do not remove any drooping or yellowing leaves when the plants begin to die back. They're hard at work resupplying the bulb with nutrients for the following season.

Tulips, crocuses, daffodils, and hyacinths are the four most well-known spring flower bulbs.

There are, however, a plethora of other bulbs that can be planted to provide year-round color and interest in your garden.


Bulb Plants: The Basics About Bulbs & How To Grow Them - Shrubhub

Types of Bulbs

There are two primary categories of bulbs: spring and summer.

Because of their sensitivity to frost, summer bulbs shouldn't be planted until the soil has warmed and the danger of frost has passed. If you buy them ahead of planting season, keep them in a cool, dry place until you're ready to plant.


Bulb Plants: The Basics About Bulbs & How To Grow Them - Shrubhub

When to Plant Bulbs

Bulbs that bloom in the spring can be planted in colder locations (Zones 4–7) as soon as the ground is cool, evening temperatures average 40–50 degrees Fahrenheit, and there are at least 6–8 weeks until the ground freezes. This should take place as soon after the purchase of true bulbs as feasible for optimal results. However, if you need to wait to plant your bulbs, you can do so by keeping them in the fridge. (For more on how to store bulbs in the fridge, see the Useful Hints section.)

Mid to late spring is the best time to sow bulbs with summer blooms.

In zones 8 and 10, in colder climates where the weather is warmer, you should refrigerate your spring-flowering bulbs for six to ten weeks before planting them in the ground. (For more on how to store bulbs in the fridge, see the Useful Hints section.)

Bulbs with summer blooms should be planted between early spring and mid-spring.

How Deep Should You Plant Bulbs?

The basic rule of thumb for planting bulbs is to do so at a depth that is twice as much as the height of the bulbs themselves. If the height of the bulb is two inches, plant it four inches underground. After the first frost after planting bulbs, you can cover the soil with a couple of inches of garden mulch without stifling their growth until spring.

When to Plant Spring Flowering Bulbs

Although the depth of summer flowering bulbs can be calculated with relative ease, the optimal time to plant bulbs is more of a window than a definite date. That is to say, rather than relying on a calendar, you should consider your geographic location when deciding when to plant spring-flowering bulbs. Aim for four to six weeks before the first forecasted fall frost in your location. Your bulbs will have time to establish their root systems, but not to create leaves and blooms.


Bulb Plants: The Basics About Bulbs & How To Grow Them - Shrubhub

Where to Plant Bulbs

You may plant bulbs anywhere, as long as they get enough sunlight and drainage. Bulbs need enough light and proper drainage to avoid decay. They thrive in soils that are somewhat sandy or loamy as these have good drainage, light, and nutrients.

Plants that bloom early in the spring can benefit from being placed under deciduous trees since they will receive enough sunlight to flower before the tree's leaves begin to obscure the sky. Although spring blooming bulbs are beautiful the first year, subsequent blooms will be weak unless the plants receive sufficient sunlight later in the season.

How to Plant Bulbs

Planting bulbs can be done in layers by first digging a whole area to the desired depth, then planting the bulbs, and finally covering the area. A bedding plant auger simplifies individual planting.

Find out how deep you should plant the flower bulbs you're using. Flowers won't blossom on time or at all if they're planted too deeply. The danger of frost damage to young plants increases if they are planted at insufficient depths. If you're not sure how deep to plant flower bulbs yet, a reasonable rule of thumb is to put them in the ground twice or thrice as deep as they are tall.

Loosen and mix in organic material for improved drainage and nutrient uptake, if necessary. You can use a specialized bulb fertilizer; just make sure you read the instructions first.

Put the bulbs on the ground with the pointed end facing up and the roots facing down. Plant the bulb on its side and it will grow tall and upright, so don't worry about which end is up.

Put a thin layer of mulch and soil over it.

Bulbs need plenty of water in the first several weeks after planting.

Bulbs should be planted in bulb baskets or wire cages to prevent animals from digging them up, or wire mesh or chicken wire can be staked over the beds.

Types of Bulbs

Tips & Tricks

Avoid putting apples or other perishables in the fridge while pre-chilling or storing bulbs. The plant inside the bulb may be killed by the ethylene gas they release.

Bulbs flowering on soil with a pH of 6 to 7 have more vibrant colors.

Bulbs are only good for planting in the season they are purchased.

Mark the spot where bulbs will be left in the ground over the cold winter, so you can find them again after cutting back the vegetation.

Never store bulbs in plastic; instead, use paper or mesh bags that allow air to circulate.



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