Flowers from bulbs and corms are appreciated and cultivated all over the world. In Ireland, they are especially prized for adding sparkling color and fragrance to cottage gardens and urban landscapes. Bulbs can be left in the soil to naturalize or dug up each year and stored for replanting in new locations. Many corms are perennial, although some must be dug up and stored at the end of summer. For Irish gardeners, planting bulbs and corms is an annual autumn ritual and a promise of the renewal of spring.
Plant Healthy Bulbs & Corms
In late autumn plant daffodils, jonquils, freesia, narcissus, crocuses, hyacinth, grape hyacinths, snowdrops, tulips and bluebells to bring vibrant color to your spring garden. Purchase firm, healthy and well developed bulbs and corms. Discard cracked, damaged or shriveled bulbs or corms as they will not likely form a desired plant. Bulbs and corms are said to be a promise of a plant to come. For healthy, well formed flowering plants, start with healthy bulbs or corms. Purchase the best you can locate. Bulbs and corms are an investment in your landscape that will multiple and reward the gardener with vivid color year after year. The largest bulbs and corms will produce the largest flowers.
Plant bulbs late in the season after the soil has cooled. Early planting enables the bulbs to develop an extensive root system before winter weather. This allows the bulbs to better adapt as temperatures rise in early spring. Many bulbs require a period of winter dormancy. Daffodils, jonquils and crocus should be planted in September or October. Tulips may be planted October through November. Planting times may be staggered by planting a few bulbs each week to assure a long spring display. Left in the ground, the bulbs will adjust and bloom all about the same time in future years.
Gladioli, a favorite summer flowering corm should be planted in the spring when the soil has warmed and all threat of frost has passed. Unlike many bulbs, Gladioli corms require digging in the fall and dry storage over winter for spring planting. Gladiolas are available in a variety of colors and normally bloom between July and September.
Corms are vertical, underground plant stems that store nutrients. Corms can be divided and stored or replanted to new locations in the garden.
Crocosmia, also known as Falling Stars, is a fast growing a vigorous perennial plant grown from a corm that spreads rapidly and has become invasive in parts of Ireland and the UK. Planted in locations where their spreading habit is desired or controlled, Crocosmia adds brilliant summer color and visual interest to the garden.
Plant garlic bulbs, three to fiuve inches apart, early in the spring after all chance of frost is past. Plant in well drained, sandy soil in a sunny location. Add organic compost to the soil prior to planting. Do not use chemicals or noxious commercial fertilizers or pesticides on your garlic crop. There are two different types of garlic, soft-neck and hard-neck. The soft-neck type has a better storage life. There are dozens of different varieties of garlic. Experiment with different types for culinary enhancement of a multitudes of dishes.
Onions, shallots and leeks all grow from bulbs. Like garlic, they prefer a sunny location with six to seven hours of sunlight daily to develop optimum size and flavor at maturity. Plant in nutrient rich, well drained soil after all danger of frost is over. Water regularly.