How to Use Bulbous Plants

Bulbous plants are often the most beautiful and long lived flowers. image by Public Domain

Bulbs, corms, tubers and rhizomes are perennial plants that are part of a plant type called bulbous plants in which part of the plant has evolved into a below-ground storage unit where food created one year is used to nourish the plant in the next. They are valuable in the garden for many reasons. Spring bulbs appear early, before most perennials have started to grow again after the winter. They can also add color to containers when other plants are not ready to face the danger of frost. In summer, bulbous plants such as alliums and lilies can provide stately interest, while autumn crocuses and tiny hardy cyclamen can cheer up the garden toward the end of the season.


Step 1

Learn about bulbous plants. The bulbs of bulbous plants are formed from fleshy leaves or leaf bases and often consists of concentric rings of scales attached to a basal plate. The outer scales form a dry, protective skin. True bulbs include the daffodils, reticulata irises and tulips. If provided with enough nutrients, they will often flower for many years.

Step 2

Plants spring bulbs. There are bulbs for all seasons of the year, but their glory is in spring when they epitomize the regrowth of a world that has seemed dead all winter. Among the first are the snowdrops (Galanthus), with snowy-white flowers and trim clumps of leaves. Daffodils, with their sunny yellows and oranges, can flower over a long period adding color and drama to you garden. Spring bulbs can be lifted and stored after flowering if they threaten to get in the way of other plants.

Step 3

Choose summer bulbs. In summer, bulbs can provide color and texture in a mixed border without taking up too much space. An advantage of growing them in a border is that when the leaves die down other perennials will conceal them as they bulk out their leaves. Bulbs such as the allium family can provide interest with their often completely round heads of tiny flowers, while lilies and gladioli can add height and stateliness.

Step 4

Choose fall bulbs. In fall there are the hardy cyclamen species with their heart-shaped, attractively marked leaves and exquisite, swept-back pink or white flowers.

Step 5

Plant bulbs for winter flowers. In late winter or early spring, the aconites appear, with cupped yellow flowers framed by a green ruff. They like woodland glades and can multiply well if they like their position, but they are often difficult to get started.

About this Author

Richard Sweeney is a former educator and now freelance writer living on the Gulf Coast of Florida. He has been writing since 1995 publishing articles in national publications such as "Men's Outlook Journal" and "Travel". Sweeney left the education profession in 2007 but likes to remain knowledgeable about current policies and teaching techniques.

Photo by: Public Domain

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