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Growing Bulbous Plants

Posted March 14, 2022

Plants that sleep underground and suddenly spring north in flower have a special beauty.  Bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers come in a variety of colors and unusual forms. There are bulbs for all places. Sunny or shady, wet or dry. You can find a bulb for just about any spot. Bulbs bloom from spring to fall.  

Planting bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers at the correct depth ensures that the sprouting flower stalks will reach the surface and remain healthy. Most bulbs are planted at a depth equal to three times their diameter. Some rhizomes are planted shallowly with parts of their structure exposed such as iris. Note the depth on each package as they vary.

Bulbs are planted months before they peek through the soil's surface. Some bulbs often lifted after their foliage dies back or, for tender species, before winter.  This may depend on your cold hardiness zone. So, check your bulbs package to insure you know how to handle each bulb. 

If you are planting several bulbs for a large display, it's easier to till the entire planting area. If you are only planting a few, then just work the spot you plan to plant.  

Planting Bulbs, Corms, and Tubers

Note the planting depth for the bulb species is found on its package label. Use a dibbler, bulb planter for trowel to excavate a hole 2" deeper than the recommended depth for the species. Add Rose & Flower or Bone Meal fertilizer in the hole and cover with 1" of soil. Always bury the fertilizer to avoid direct contact between it and the bulb.  

Orient each bulb so that its top is up. For tubers or bulbs lacking discernible tops, plant them on their sides. Place the bulb in the hole and cover it with soil. Water the bed thoroughly after planting.  

Planting Rhizomes

Note the depth recommended on the package directions for planting the species and excavate a trench to that depth. Some are planted at the soil surface like iris.  

Lay the rhizomes in the furrow and cover or bank soil against them to close the furrow. For those rhizomes lacking a clear top or bottom, set them in the trench on their sides.  

Water thoroughly immediately after planting. In the following weeks, keep them evenly moist until their flowers fade, then limit watering and wait for their foliage to die to the ground.  

Bulbs, corms, tubers and rhizomes are great with annuals planted among them for a superior show of color.  

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