When it comes to gardening most of us are familiar with the fact that some flowers grow from bulbs. While it might be easy to mindlessly plant these into the ground, what often goes unnoticed is that these small, seemingly run-of-the-mill items, are, in fact, something rather special.
Flower bulbs are one convenient little package that contains everything flowers need to grow, develop and thrive. While they might not look much, these incredible natural resources hold an amazing amount of life energy, and without them, the world would be a duller place.
There is so much to learn about flower bulbs, so if you’re keen to find out more, take a look at our flower bulb guide which will tell you everything you need to know.
The Amazing Truth About Flower Bulbs
It would be easy to assume that a flower bulb wasn’t anything to write home about but what is really special about them is that they have everything they need in one little package and as such, are entirely self-sufficient.
If you are looking to start a floral garden and want something that is easy to grow and low maintenance, then bulbs might be the way to go. These hardy natural battery cells can withstand a variety of conditions so whether you want to plant them directly into the ground, in a container or in among shrubs and trees, you’ve certainly got options.
Inside a flower bulb, you will find a tiny plant, the flower, roots and leaves all waiting patiently to emerge.
However, despite having everything they need to grow, bulbs do tend to take a little longer to bloom. But if you have a little patience they are certainly worth it since the results are often breathtaking.
Types Of Bulbs
In the main, there are two types of flower bulbs, those that will bloom in spring, known as spring bulbs and summer bulbs, which, yes you’ve guessed it, will bloom in summer.
Which you choose will largely depend on the time of year that you want to plant them and when you would like to see results. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at each type.
If you want your bulbs to bloom just as the weather is beginning to brighten up then you will need to look for spring bulbs. These are typically planted in the autumn, ready to thrive the following season and are generally things like tulips, crocus, snowdrops and daffodils, among others.
The reason that these bulbs need to be planted in autumn is so that they are exposed to several months of colder temperatures over the winter. This allows them to ‘activate’ and release all of their energy into producing those beautiful spring colours we are so used to seeing.
Some people will call these autumn bulbs, in relation to the time that they are planted, but they are one of the same things.
For anyone who is looking for a summer floral display, your bulbs will need to go into the ground during the spring. Depending on the type of bulb you are using, you may get an early summer display or something that goes on into the autumn, for example, dahlias.
These bulbs should never be planted in colder temperatures as they cannot handle these extremes, this is likely why they are often referred to as ‘tender bulbs.’ For this reason, you should always aim to plant them after the last frost.
As well as flowers, there are a huge variety of vegetable bulbs. One of the most common is the onion but you may also be familiar with garlic, beetroot, fennel, leek, chives and kurrat. Typically, bulb vegetables are not eaten as a standalone food since they usually have a very potent flavour. However, they are usually used to accompany other foods to enhance or adapt the taste.
Inside the vegetable bulb, nutrients are stored and depending on which you are eating, there might be several health benefits. In fact, bulbs like garlic have long been used for medicinal purposes.
Tips For Planting Flower Bulbs
If you’re keen to get started on planting flower bulbs then the good news is that these are one of the easiest and low-maintenance types of planting you can do. For this reason, bulbs are often favoured by newcomers to gardening. However, while they are relatively simple to care for, taking note of some of our top tips will ensure that you always get the best out of your bulbs.
- Before putting your bulbs into the ground, be sure that you have created a hole that is the right depth. If you put the bulbs too low in the ground, there is the risk of them flowering late or not at all. However, if you plant too high, the bulbs might struggle to develop owing to the overly cold temperatures.
- The roots of the bulb should always be facing down. That being said, it can be a little tricky to figure this out and one end may look the same as the other. If you are in any doubt, it is possible to plant the bulb on its side and nature will do the rest.
- Once planted, you will need to provide your bulbs with a lot of water to encourage growth.
- There is a technique known as lasagna planting which involves layering the bulbs according to when they will flower. This is beneficial if you want to be able to plant and then watch your garden develop and thrive over the course of the year.
- Bulbs do well with companion plants and some of the best are considered to be thyme, bleeding heart, daylilies and cranesbill, among others.
Flower bulbs are small packages that contain all the nutrients and energy that a flower will need to grow. They are easy to plant and care for and will stand up to some pretty harsh conditions. With a wide variety to choose from and very colourful blooms, bulbs are an excellent choice for new gardeners or those looking for something low maintenance.
Garden Doctor Tips
“Ensure that you plant your summer bulbs after the last frost – they won’t do well if they are too cold!”
“You will want to make sure that you plant your bulbs at the right depth!”
“Layer your planting with different bulbs that flower at different times to give a continuous bloom!”
“If you are not sure which is the top and the bottom, plant the bulb on its side and let nature run its course!”
Frequently Asked Questions
What are bulbs in plants?
Bulbs are not just for holiday decorations! They are an important part of plant life.
First off, there is a difference between bulbs and roots. You can think of them as the “brain” and “body” of the plant respectively. Roots anchor the plant to its environment while bulbs provide nourishment through photosynthesis to help it grow into a strong, healthy plant with lots of leaves and flowers.
How do flower bulbs work?
Have you ever wondered why the flowers in your garden have
blossomed all at once, then waned and withered? This is because they are following a natural cycle that repeats each year: the flower bulbs need time to rest before blooming again. As it turns out, there is a lot of science behind this simple fact! They contain all the nutrients necessary for growth and development. Bulbs also produce food that helps feed the rest of the plant.
Do flower bulbs come back every year?
The answer to that question is, “it depends.” It really depends on the type of flower bulb you purchase. The different types of bulbs can be divided into two categories: those that come back every year and those that don’t. Which category your bulbs fall under will depend on how much time they need to grow before flowering again in the spring.
Hi, I’m Trev and I’ve been growing things since I can remember. When I was younger, I grew up on a farm, so I have always been around plants and animals. After studying horticulture at university, I decided to start my own nursery which I have run now for 25 years. In my spare time, I run this website – which is a resource for people who want to learn more about their gardens.