The term “bulb” refers to the below the soil growth or “protuberance” of a group of plants. This growth is a storehouse for the plant. Some “bulbs” are in fact “corms” or “tubers”. A tuber is a thick piece of stem with a bud whereas a corm is a stem without a bud. Either way, these “bulbs” will eventually develop into fully grown plants.
There are a great many varieties of beautiful flowers that result from bulbs and they are used by many gardeners because they require little maintenance. They are also seen as a sign of spring – the pretty “snowdrop” being one of the first to appear after the cold of winter.
Bulbs vary in size and the depth to which they should be planted is dependent on this. Generally, the larger the bulb, the deeper it should be planted, from between 3 to 6 inches into the soil. (For the benefit of the reader corms and tubers should be treated the same way.) The ideal way to plant a bulb is to use a spade to cut a hole into the soil, into which the bulb is positioned “pointy” end up and the soil replaced. For soils lacking in nutients, a small amount of bone meal should be added to the base of the hole and mixed into the soil.
It is a good idea to fertilize flowering bulbs each spring, preferably with manure, taking care to prevent the manure from touching the roots or the bulb. The manure should be worked into the soil. To increase the size of the flowers, cut off most of the buds. A regular watering is essential for these plants, even though they have their own “storehouse”.
Of all the popular spring-flowering bulbs, the tulip has to be the leader. Tulips now come in a huge array of spectacular colours, from creamy white to almost black and in between, vibrant shades of reds, oranges, yellows and pinks along with pastel shades of violet and soft pink. However, you should not overlook the other spring-flowering bulbs such as the crocus, friesia, grape hyacinth and iris for their own beauty. The purple flowering bulbs and of course the tiny yet simply beautiful snowdrop are equally beautiful.
These need the same treatment with planting and maintenance as the earlier flowering bulbs. Amongst the numerous varieties of summer flowering bulbs a few stand out as ideal for the home garden. These include the autumn crocus, which is a very good naturalizer and spreads over a few seasons to create a mass of strappy leaves and flower heads: the spectacular gladiolus with its “lion” like flower heads on a striking upright stem: bearded irises that form a stunning array if planted en masse: a number of the lilies including the huge callas and the pretty peonies which resemble roses in the structure of their flower head;: and the passion vine which creates a soft and luscious effect.