Bulbous plant’s Guide and FAQs

Cultivation Guide for various Bulbous Plants in Our Climate

Moderator: Izhar

Hamad
Donor
Donor
Posts: 1194
Joined: March 11th, 2012, 6:43 pm
Country: Pakistan
City: Wah Cantt
Gardening Interests: all kind of plants

Bulbous plant’s Guide and FAQs

Post by Hamad » September 7th, 2013, 4:30 pm

I have been reading, consulting and asking friends, educational intuitions and professionals for a better understanding of bulbous plants and I was trying to understand their behaviour, life cycle and climatic requirements with regards to our weather conditions.
I have read University’s published papers and also interacting (asking) those who studied, learned and practising/serving in this industry, my friend’s brother did his PHD in Agronomy from New Zealand and he is serving in Pakistan and another friend of mine is from Nepal and after completion of his education he served in Government intuitions and now settled in UK, and how can I forget to mention about Gardening Pakistan, I learned a lot from this forum and the members, thanks all.
By posting this thread, I’m not trying to give an impression that it has not been done before, all the information is available but I’m just trying to compile all the scattered information under one heading and I hope it would be a little help for beginners like myself.
I have been working on this document for a long time hence it’s a bulky document but very easy to understand, I can say one thing for sure, after reading this document you will be having a good understanding for a bulbous plant.
Contents
• What is a Bulb?
• Different types of bulbs.
• Difference between bulbs.
• Hardiness.
• Planting guide.
• Storing bulbs
• FAQ

What is A Bulb?
A flower bulb is really an underground storehouse and flower factory. Within the bulb is just about everything the plant will need to sprout and flower at the appropriate time. Split a bulb in half and you will see this clearly.
In the basal centre portion of the bulb are the leaves cradling a baby bud. (In many species, this bud already has the appearance of a flower while still in the bulb!) Surrounding the bud is a white meaty substance called the scales. In true bulbs, it is these scales which contain all the food the bulb will need to flower and thrive. Anchoring the scales and the floral stalk which holds the bud is the basal plate. This plate at the bottom of the bulb also holds the roots of the plant. The entire package is protected by a thin outer skin called the tunic.
This entire remarkable organism needs from humans is to be placed in the ground at the appropriate season of the year, given a liberal drink of water and then left alone. The bulb does the rest!

Different types of Bulbs (Bulb, Rhizome, Scally Bulb, Corm, Tuber, Pseudo Bulb, and Fleshy Roots)

Bulb
There are two types of true bulbs, tunicate and scally bulbs. The onion is typical of a tunicate bulb. This bulb is made up of concentric layers fleshy leaves, held together by the basal plate. The basal plate is a small crown that contains one or more shoots for the next season's growth. It is also where roots are formed. The tunic or skin is made up of old leaf bases. It not only protects the bulb from mechanical damage, but prevents it from losing water while dormant. Bulbs that form new roots every year (for example, Daffodils) should be stored dry, but those that have roots that persist from year to year, such as Hippeastrum, should be stored in saw dust or wood shavings. Care must be taken when planting and storing these bulbs that the roots are not damaged.
Certain bulbs use up all their food reserve to flower and grow and recreates a new bulb from the food stored from the current season's growth. Examples are several species of Allium and Daffodils. Others only use up fraction of the reserves, and the bulb gets bigger every year, for example, Hippeastrum. Propagation is either by seed or by detaching small bulbs (bulblets) produced on the side of the mother bulb. Certain species produce bulblets on the flowering stem or all along leaf axils of the stem (bulbil), for example, certain Lillium species. Propagation is also possible from detached scales.

Image
Image

Scally Bulb
Lily is an example of a scally bulb. In these bulbs, circular rows of swollen scales, packed loosely, store food for the next season's growth. As these bulbs lack a tunic, they can be easily damaged while being handled, and must not be stored completely dry.

Image

Corm
A corm looks and functions like a bulb but fundamentally different from a bulb. It is made up of a swollen stem base of a shoot, wrapped with tunic from old leaf bases. There can be one of more growth eyes on the top of the corm. When growth starts, the old corm withers away and a new corm is produced in its place, on top of the old corm. Some corms produce numerous little corms (cormel) at the base of the new corm. These will germinate and grow into new plants, but may take several years to flower. Certain corms, for example Freesia, will produce corms along leaf axils of the flowering stem. Other examples of corm forming plants are Sparaxis and Gladiolus.
Most corms should be stored completely dry or they will rot.

Image

Image
PrOud tO BE Oo92

Hamad
Donor
Donor
Posts: 1194
Joined: March 11th, 2012, 6:43 pm
Country: Pakistan
City: Wah Cantt
Gardening Interests: all kind of plants

Re: Bulbous plant’s Guide and FAQs

Post by Hamad » September 7th, 2013, 4:46 pm

Tuber
A tuber is a swollen stem or crown. One or more growth eyes on the tuber will sprout to produce next season's growth. When growth starts, some tubers wither away (for example, Gloriosa and Sandersonia), but others keep growing bigger (for example, Cyclamen and Begonia). Roots often form on the underside of the tuber, but may also grow from the top. For example, in Cyclamen, the roots only form on the sides and bottom of the tuber, but in Begonia, roots form on all sides. Some tubers do not have roots at all, but instead the roots form on the current season's growth.
Tubers are usually underground, but on some species, tubers may be formed above ground. When these tubers come in contact with the soil, they will usually root. An example is Ceropegia woodii. This creeping plant form tubers along leaf axils on its stem.

Image

Root Tuber
A Root tuber is a swollen root. Certain species have growth eyes on the root tuber, for example kumara or sweet potato. Next season's growth will sprout from these eyes. Some root tubers do not have any eyes and will not sprout if detached from the crown. Examples are Dahlia and Rununculus. Next season's growth will only sprout from eyes on the crown. The tubers are purely for food storage and have no reproductive use.

Image

Rhizomes
A rhizome is a swollen horizontal stem that spreads as it grows. Growth is from the tip of the rhizome and buds that form along its length. Adventitious roots form where the rhizome touches the ground. Rhizomes may either be underground, for example plants in the ginger family and Zantedeschia, or above ground as in Iris and certain species of ferns.
Orchids grow varying length of rhizomes that connect their pseudo bulbs. Certain species lack pseudo bulbs and grow leaves directly from the rhizomes.

Image

Image

Pseudo Bulb
A pseudo bulb is a special organ found in orchids that is actually a swollen stem or stem base. Pseudo bulbs come in all shapes and sizes, and some only lasts one season (for example Pleione and Calanthe), while others persists for years, even after the leaves have fallen off (for example, Cymbidium). Some are attached to creeping rhizomes and form clumps. Pseudo bulbs from epiphytic (grows on trees) and lithophytic (grows on rocks) orchids are above ground and typically form new shoots from the base. Pseudo bulbs from terestrial orchids are below ground and function much like a tuber (for example, Bletilla). All are created by the current season's growth and store food to start off the next season's growth and flowers.
Propagation is usually by detaching back bulbs (old pseudo bulbs that have lost their leaves), Not all orchids form pseudo bulbs.

Image

Fleshy Roots
Plants that have fleshy roots store nutrient reserves in the fleshy roots.
Both peonies and daylilies can be propagated by dividing. The root clumps of peonies should be divided in the fall leaving at least three crown buds with each clump.
The daylily can be divided in the fall or spring into plant lets with a single fan of leaves.
The daylily has a fleshy root system with some varieties having what might be considered a rhizome type root system. Daylilies are hardy herbaceous plants with a perennial growth habit. They have clumps of rich green, smooth foliage that dies back during the winter, few are ever green.

Image

Image
Last edited by Hamad on September 7th, 2013, 5:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
PrOud tO BE Oo92

Hamad
Donor
Donor
Posts: 1194
Joined: March 11th, 2012, 6:43 pm
Country: Pakistan
City: Wah Cantt
Gardening Interests: all kind of plants

Re: Bulbous plant’s Guide and FAQs

Post by Hamad » September 7th, 2013, 4:55 pm

Difference between above mentioned types of Bulbous plants
Technically speaking, many popular "bulb" flowers are not produced from true bulbs at all. Crocuses and gladioli, for example, are really corms, while such favourites as dahlias and begonias are really tubers.
The differences between bulbs and corms are slight, and indeed the two look very similar. The main distinguishing trait is the method of storing food. In corms, most of the food is stored in an enlarged basal plate rather than the meaty scales, which in corms are much smaller. Corms generally tend to be flatter in shape than round, true bulbs.
Tubers and roots are easily distinguished from bulbs and corms. They have no protective tunic and are really just enlarged stem tissue. They come in a variety of shapes, from cylindrical, to flat, to just about any combination you can imagine. Many come in clusters.
Generally, however, you are safe using the term "bulb." Bulb has commonly come to mean any plant which has an underground food storage capacity.

Bulbs Hardiness
Bulbs fall generally into two groups: spring-flowering (which are planted in the fall) and summer-flowering (which are planted in the spring). A more accurate grouping, however, divides bulbs into hardy and tender varieties.
As a rule, spring-flowering bulbs are hardy bulbs. These bulbs are planted in the fall, generally before the first frost, and can survive (and indeed require for sprouting) the cold winter months. Many hardy bulbs, such as daffodils, perennialize well and can be left in the ground to flower year after year. But at the same time Tulips need to be lifted and stored in a dry place to be planted in nest season.
Most summer-flowering bulbs are tender bulbs. These bulbs cannot survive harsh winter conditions and must be planted in spring after the last frost of the season. To enjoy these bulbs year after year, they must be dug up in fall and stored indoors over the winter. Few bulbs can survive the winter and can be left in the ground for the next season (also depend on the climate). A notable exception is the lily. Many summer-flowering lily varieties are quite hardy and can be planted in either fall or spring.
For a better understanding, if a bulb is Hardy to -5 C then it will get damage if the temperature will drop to -6 or more, it could be planted in fall, in the areas where temperature don’t fall below -5 (suitable for most of the Pakistan) and referring to specific variety it require chill period during summer to develop its root system and in early spring it will flower for you, and if a plant is Hardy and Fall plantation but Hardy to 5 and can’t survive if temperature drop below 5 then it can’t be planted in fall but it may serve as Annual if it would be planted after the winter in early spring but would not satisfy with the performance. In some cases mulch do the job or there are different remedies in place to make them grow and flower in our climate including mulching, chilling, in some cases planting them in chillier with medium like Tulip and in warmer climate drip irrigation can work and planting time

Hardiness is affected by duration and intensity of sunlight, length of growing season, amount and timing of rainfall, length and severity of summer drought, soil characteristics, and proximity to a large body of water, slope, frost occurrence, humidity, and cultural practices.
Plants can be classified as either hardy or non-hardy, depending upon their ability to withstand cold temperatures. Winter injury can occur to non-hardy plants if temperatures are too low, or if unseasonably low temperatures occur early in the fall or late in the spring.
In addition, the species and/or cultivar can be a factor. Thus, hardiness is very complex. Traditionally, bulbs have been classified as "Hardy", "Semi-Hardy", or "Tender". A further classification is as follows
• Tender I: Injured below 68°F (20°C)
• Tender II: Injured below 50°F (10°C)
• Tender III: Injured below 25°F (2°C)
• Semi-Hardy: Injured below 28°F (-2°C)
• Hardy I: Injured below 23°F (-5°C)
• Hardy II: Injured below 14°F (-10°C)
• Hardy III: Injured below 5°F (-5°C).
It was proposed that these classifications will be more functional because they define upper and lower temperature hardiness limits and these are directly related to optimal growth and development responses.

Hardiness table

Image
Image

Hardiness map for Pakistan

Image

Growing Guide according to hardiness

Image
Last edited by Hamad on September 7th, 2013, 5:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
PrOud tO BE Oo92

Hamad
Donor
Donor
Posts: 1194
Joined: March 11th, 2012, 6:43 pm
Country: Pakistan
City: Wah Cantt
Gardening Interests: all kind of plants

Re: Bulbous plant’s Guide and FAQs

Post by Hamad » September 7th, 2013, 5:02 pm

General planting guide
Most spring-flowering Dutch bulbs will thrive in either full or partial sun, but do just fine in almost any location that offers good drainage. Bulbs will rot in standing water so avoid areas prone to flooding, such as the bottom of hills or under drainpipes.
After choosing the site:
1. Dig either a trench for a bed planting, or individual holes for individual bulbs or small cluster of bulbs. (Note that a cluster of flowers is more striking to the eye than a lone bloomer.)
To determine how deep to plant, consider the calibre or size of the bulb. Large bulbs (2 inches or more) are usually planted about 8 inches deep; smaller-size bulbs (1 inch) are planted 5 inches deep. Not applicable to all but in general, if you are not sure about depth just plant them at a normal depth the bulb will adjust itself according to its need when the root system will form.
2. Loosen the soil with a rake to aerate it and remove any weeds and small stones. Mix in a bit of peat moss to improve soil drainage. Place do not push bulbs firmly in the soil with the pointed side up. Space large bulbs 3-10 inches apart and small bulbs 1-2 inches apart. (If you're not sure which end is right-side-up, don't worry. Upside-down bulbs usually come up anyway!)

3. Cover the bulbs with soil and water generously. Add 2-3 inches of mulch, pine bark is fine, on top of the garden bed. This will provide added protection from the cold and keeps the soil from drying out.

Image

Image

Digging and Storing Bulbs
If the bulbs are Summer dormant, then reduce watering once the flowering is over and stop watering when the leaves start turning yellow and dig them up when the foliage has died, remove all the dirt, and store them in cool dry place where they receive good air circulation and plant them back in fall, or if they are in pots and can survive in soil then being the pot indoor and do not water, place them back outdoor in fall and start watering/
If the bulb is winter dormant, then reduce the then reduce watering once the flowering is over and stop watering when the leaves start turning yellow and dig them up when the foliage has died, remove all the dirt, store them in a warm place and plant them in next spring. If they are in pots and can survive in soil then bring the pots in a green house or indoor, place them out door in spring and start watering them

Flower Bulb FAQs
(Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Q. Why can't we plant tulips in the Spring?
A. Spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips and daffodils must be planted in the fall or early winter to bloom in spring because they require a long period of cool temperatures to spark the biochemical process that causes them to flower. In fall, it's important to get them into the ground before the ground freezes. They need time to develop strong roots.

2. Q. If the right time to plant is already over, can we keep the bulbs for next year/season?
A. No! If they are still firm and plump, plant them now. Bulbs are living plants, not seeds they cannot wait, they will dry out. Either chill them in the refrigerator for indoors use as forced bulbs or somehow get them into the ground outside. Because they are so tough and contain a full storehouse of food, your bulbs will try their best to bloom no matter how late it is in the season. This is a case of "nothing ventured, nothing gained." Chances are you may still get some results, even if you plant them late.

3. Q. why it’s important to plant bulbs in clusters?
A. Groups of bulbs make a much nicer show than individual "soldiers marching single file." To create greater color impact in the garden, plant clusters of same-color flowers together in blocks or "bouquets." Visually, you get more "bang for the buck." One trick: try positioning similar bulbs in a triangular planting pattern in the garden, with the point of the triangle towards the front and the long leg towards the back. The result: it will look as if you planted more flowers than you did. Generally, larger bulbs should be planted
3 to 6 inches apart, smaller bulbs 1 to 2 inches apart.

4. Q. Spring weather is often so erratic. What should be done if we get warm weather followed by a cold snap and the bulbs are already "up"?
A. Nothing. Tulips and other spring-flowering bulbs are tough. They can usually take what Mother Nature dishes out. When the weather turns, don't dash outside to cover early-sprouting bulbs with extra "weather protection." A short freeze won't do lasting damage to young bulb shoots and buds, though it may "burn" already open blossoms. Many, such as snowdrops, crocuses, and early rock garden narcissi are supposed to come up in very early spring, even peeking through the snow. Mother Nature has provided them with the means to survive. An unseasonably warm spell may cause some bulbs to bloom earlier than anticipated, but in most cases won't result in damage.

5. Q. Should we apply mulch? How deep? And When?
A. Mulch is not required but it is often beneficial. Three inches is plenty. Wait until the ground cools down. Contrary to popular notions, mulching over bulbs is meant to retain soil moisture and keep the ground temperatures cool and stable, not to serve as a "warm winter blanket" (except in the very coldest climates). Mulch just before the ground freezes. Applying mulch too early in the season, when the ground is still soft and warm, can invite infestations by field mice and other critters who like to burrow in to establish winter quarters (and no doubt dig up tasty tulip treats!).

6. Q. How to grow spring-flowering bulbs in warm climates?
A. It's possible to grow spring-flowering bulbs in climates as warm as Zone 9 and Zone 10. However the blooming season in these zones is much earlier than in cooler zones. Some spring-flowering bulbs recommended for Zone 9 can be planted with no pre-cooling. Others will need a special cold treatment before planting.
No pre-chilling needed:Amaryllis, Allium neapolitanum, Allium rosenbachianum, Anemone de Caen and Anemone St. Brigid, Brodiaea laxa, Crocus chrysanthus (snow crocus), Dutch iris, Freesia, Ixias, lilies, all narcissi/daffodils, Ornithogalum umbellatum, Ranunculus, Scilla campanulata (wood hyacinth), Sparaxis, Triteleia uniflora and Tritoni.
Pre-chilling needed: tulips, hyacinths, crocus and the other spring-flowering bulb/
Here are some warm winter gardening tips:
First, choose cultivars which have proved to do well in warmer climates. Cold-hardy bulbs that need pre-cooling in warm winter regions must be treated as annuals and new bulbs must be planted the following fall. Pre-chill the bulbs for a minimum of six to eight weeks in a refrigerator at a temperature of around 40°F to 45°F (the temperature of most home refrigerators). If you use a refrigerator, be sure not to store any apples or other fruits alongside your bulbs. Ripening fruit naturally gives off ethylene gas which will kill the flower inside the bulbs.
Don't worry if you bought the bulbs early in the season and need to store them for several months before planting. Keep them chilling -- even up to 16 weeks if necessary, until it is time to plant. Optimally, the bulbs should be put in the ground in December or early January. Plant tulips about six to eight inches deep, water well and protect with a layer of mulch to retain moisture and protect from heat, drip irrigation could also be a good option. When bulbs do not receive sufficient weeks of cold treatment, they bloom too close to the ground, on too-short stems.

7. Q. What should we do after tulips fade in spring? What about daffodils?
A. After tulip flowers have faded, "dead-head" them by clipping off the faded blooms so that they won't go to seed. Narcissi (daffodils) do not require dead-heading, just leave as is. The main requirement for bulb flowers in the post-bloom period is to leave the leaves alone so the plant can put its energy into "recharging" its bulb for next spring's performance. This "energy charge" is gained through photosynthesis as the plant uses the sun's energy to turn basic elements such as oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium into food. This food is stored in the bulb's "scales," the white fleshy part of the bulb, for use next spring.
It is necessary to leave the green foliage exposed to the sun until it turns brown or six weeks have elapsed since blooming. Fight the urge to trim back or constrain the leaves during their die-back phase after looming. Don't bunch, tie, braid or cut bulb plant leaves during this period. Dealing with the fading foliage is basically one of those things that lovers of spring bulbs must deal with. The only management tip is camouflage.
Try inter planting bulbs with annuals or perennials, or planting them strategically nearby so that the latter mask the declining bulb foliage as best as possible. As a planting strategy, plant clumps of bulbs instead of full beds. This way you will have a lovely spring show, and plenty of room to plant camouflaging companions.
Avoid fertilizing the annuals planted in the same bed until the bulbs have died back. Bulbs in spring, if they're fertilized at all, should only get a dose of fast-release nitrogen about six weeks before flowering (normally bulbs want a low nitrogen mix, but in spring it is the green-encouraging nitrogen that is called for). Fertilizing bulbs too close to flowering time, when the bulbs can't metabolize the food.

8. Q. How soon should we plant our bulbs after we buy them?
A. Sometimes you will buy bulbs before you are ready to plant in order to get the best selection. While it's always best to plant your bulbs as soon after you receive them as possible, when you have to wait, be sure to store the bulbs in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Some people keep their bulbs in the refrigerator crisper drawer, taking care to avoid storing them with ripening fruit. They should be fine for several weeks even months if properly handled. But don't wait too long. Ideally, you should plant six weeks or so prior to hard ground frosts in your area to allow ample time for fall root development.
A tip: the proper time to plant is when ground temperature is below 60°F at planting depth (while this is not easy for most of us to gauge, it gives you some notion of what's appropriate). If you don't have six weeks lead-time, plant anyway even if you have to hack your way through hard, chilled surface soil. (As always, be sure to water.) The key: you must plant in fall to have blooms in spring. Even if planted late, bulbs will spring into action and try to start root growth. They are pre-programmed to grow and will do their best no matter how late you plant them.
PrOud tO BE Oo92

Hamad
Donor
Donor
Posts: 1194
Joined: March 11th, 2012, 6:43 pm
Country: Pakistan
City: Wah Cantt
Gardening Interests: all kind of plants

Re: Bulbous plant’s Guide and FAQs

Post by Hamad » September 7th, 2013, 5:09 pm

I tried my level best but if I m wrong please do notify me:)

Hamad
PrOud tO BE Oo92

Munir
Donor
Donor
Posts: 1088
Joined: October 23rd, 2012, 1:43 pm
Country: Pakistan
City: Islamabad
Gardening Interests: Ornamental Plants,Vines,Annuals,Herbs,Veggies & Fruit Trees.
New Love: Roses & Lilies
Location: Islamabad

Re: Bulbous plant’s Guide and FAQs

Post by Munir » September 7th, 2013, 5:14 pm

Very well explained.Earlier some or perhaps most of us may have been guessing or not even attempting to understand. Now certainly made easy by you. Thank you,Hamad.
Yet, I ll continue & prefer to use word "bulb" for all categories.

Hamad
Donor
Donor
Posts: 1194
Joined: March 11th, 2012, 6:43 pm
Country: Pakistan
City: Wah Cantt
Gardening Interests: all kind of plants

Re: Bulbous plant’s Guide and FAQs

Post by Hamad » September 7th, 2013, 6:18 pm

After having a better understanding of what is a Bulb, now we need to know our climate and then we are ready to rock and roll

following are the average climatic conditions of Islamabad for the year 2012, to give us an idea (what to expect in 2013/2014) and to plan ahead

Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Last edited by Hamad on September 7th, 2013, 6:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
PrOud tO BE Oo92

Farhan Ahmed
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 3801
Joined: February 5th, 2012, 9:38 pm
Country: Pakistan
City: Risalpur/Karachi
Gardening Interests: Annuals,Herbaceous Perennials, Landscaping,Cottage Garden
Location: Risalpur,KPK

Re: Bulbous plant’s Guide and FAQs

Post by Farhan Ahmed » September 7th, 2013, 6:22 pm

Great effort. Very detailed account

Hamad Ahmed Kisana
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 1392
Joined: November 23rd, 2012, 6:36 pm
Country: pakistan
City: Sheikhupura
Gardening Interests: Bulbs,Annuals,Perennials,Roses and Vines.
Location: Sheikhupura,Pakistan
Contact:

Re: Bulbous plant’s Guide and FAQs

Post by Hamad Ahmed Kisana » September 7th, 2013, 6:41 pm

we appreciate your hard work. :mrgreen: ..great job.now it is easy for us to understand bulbous plants..a civilian salute from me... :D
continue your efforts :)
Attachments
cheerleader.gif
cheerleader.gif (13.4 KiB) Viewed 7402 times

Hamad
Donor
Donor
Posts: 1194
Joined: March 11th, 2012, 6:43 pm
Country: Pakistan
City: Wah Cantt
Gardening Interests: all kind of plants

Re: Bulbous plant’s Guide and FAQs

Post by Hamad » September 7th, 2013, 6:54 pm

following are the average climatic conditions of Lahore for the year 2012, to give us an idea (what to expect in 2013/2014) and to plan ahead

Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
PrOud tO BE Oo92

Post Reply

Return to “Bulb Growing Guides”