Tubers, Rhizomes, Corms, Bulbs
Getting spring blooming flowers in the ground in the fall seems, to many, a misstep in thinking. But that is exactly when spring blooming bulbs need to be planted.
So many times while I was working at the garden center I had folks come in and ask for tulip bulbs or daffodils bulbs, or hyacinths ‘plants’ in March. Sadly, March is when these beauties are strutting their stuff, but March is not the time to plant them.
There are so many spring blooming flowers in the market place this time of year. But not all spring bloomers are bulbs.
Many of the smaller flowers like crocus and anemones grow from corms. When planted in the fall, the corms will develop roots. Adding bone meal into the planting hole will help these and all spring bloomer’s roots grow.
Tubers are a form of root that looks like this: Daylilies dahlias, begonias, and some lilies grow from a tuber. In my zone 6 garden however, dahlias and begonia tubers would not survive the frozen soils. Zone 8 climate is milder and dahlia tubers will over winter safely. I need to plant dahlias and begonias after the last frost, in May.
Rhizomes grow plants like iris and ginger.
Iris are hardy in my garden, but ginger, being a tropical (Zone 10) can be started in containers indoors and moved outside after the threat of frost passes (May 15 in zone 6). Iris rhizomes are plants at the soil surface with the bottom in the soil where the roots will take hold.
Of all of the spring blooming flowers, bulbs are probably the best known of the early bloomers, Tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths are the most popular and relatively easy to grow.
But these two early bloomers are snow drops and scilla. Always exciting to see them in late winter, when everything else is still muddy and gray.
Muscari, or grape hyacinth, are small in height, usually four to six inches tall. The scilla will be about six inches high, and the more popular tulips and ‘daffs’ will grow from six inches for some varieties, to 24” for others.
These height variations will determine which blubs get planted in front of a planting or behind others to be seen.
As this chart shows, the bloom time is also considered in the planting scheme. Planting bulbs depth is determined by the diameter of the bulb circumference.
Bigger bulbs need to be planted about 3x its size in depth.
The same reasoning applies when planting a container. Spring blooming bulbs can easily be grown in containers. I have not needed to give the pot any special care over winter, but if sub-zero temperatures are common in your area, the container may do better in a garage, or unheated shelter.
Planting en mass is a great way to get a colorful impact. The planting hole is large and bulbs are set in. If planting layers, cover the larger bulbs at the bottoms of the hole, and continue raising each group of bulbs.
Digging a hole for a group of bulbs is simply done with a shovel. However, if individual bulbs are being placed in the landscape, a few tools will make this job easier.
Any color you can imagine comes in a spring bloomer. Mix pastels, or mass vibrant reds. Plant oranges with purples, or plant white and reds.
Any combination is a joy. Check out garden center displays. Bulb companies have marketed color schemes and the possibilities are endless. They have also packaged a mixed garden for a succession of blooms in the spring.
Fall planting of spring bloomers is important for good root establishment which enables the bulb to have energy to grow that first shoot, and then foliage, and then blooms. Getting the bulbs in before the ground freezes is vital for this process. (However, I have known a procrastinator or two who planted bulbs over Christmas break, and the flowers did just fine.)
With 90 degree temps again this week, I find planning for fall premature. But getting those bulbs into the landscape now will have endless rewards in the spring.
What are your favorite spring bloomers? Do you put any in containers? Thanks for stopping by today, and have fun picking up a few new residents for the garden.