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How to Identify Bulb Plants

By Contributor ; Updated September 21, 2017
General planting depth for some popular bulbs

The term "bulb" generally applies to the underground organ of a plant that stores energy and allows the plant to survive during its dormancy (usually during the winter months). Planting bulbs in the fall for spring blooms is extremely popular among gardeners. There are also bulbs which can be planted in the spring for summer and fall blooms. However, not all flowers grow from bulbs; some, such as dahlias, grow from tubers, which are basically swollen underground parts of roots or stems. There are also rhizomes, including iris, which grow horizontally underground or just beneath the surface. Then there are corms, which are often confused with bulbs. A corm is simply a compressed stem or the base of a stem which grows underground. (Gladioli grow from corms.) Finally, there are true bulbs. Unfortunately, the only way to absolutely discern if you have a bulb plant in your garden is to dig it up and look at it. Follow the steps below to determine whether or not the plant in your garden is growing from a true bulb.


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