Archive | Bulbs Tubers and Corms

Plants that grow from underground storage devises

Buying and Planting Your Tulips

Tulip Buying & Planting Tips

  • Marketing of bulbs starts earlier and earlier and this July saw some multiple chains offering pre-packed bulbs for sale. It is all very well getting ahead of the game so you get the varieties you want.
  • I belatedly have come to the conclusion that you get a better result and thus value for money from a specialist grower or retailer. Choice of variety, size and bulb condition are generally better as they have a reputation to protect.
  • Beware how you store bulbs as they can dry out (but they will also dry out in store if left hanging on one of those POS units.) If you store tulips in humid conditions they may sprout early or get mildew.
  • Normally I try and plant my Tulips by the end of December but this year I am a bit late. Still Tulips have a great capacity to catch up before April when they flower.
  • I have not been successful planting tulips in pots but I shall keep trying. Perhaps deeper in long toms is the answer; I will let you know.


Varieties Planted

  • Monte Carlo a double yellow only 12 ” tall. They have an AGM and are reputed to be fragrant.
  • Apricot Parrot has feathered bicoloured petals. There is a bit of green on the outer petals with red and apricot shades on the inner petals. These Tulips are about 22″ tall
  • Another lower growing Tulip Greigii called Queen Ingrid at 14″ caught my eye with red petals edged in white
  • Bulbs varied in size from 10-13cm. I have planted most in pots that I can bury in the ground where there is a gap and take up quickly after flowering.

Cyclamen that Flower in Winter

The late season flowering of Cyclamen is just one of the reasons to grow these useful flowers. There are many species of Cyclamen and below is a special selection for Autumn and Winter flowering.

C. coum is widely grown in the United Kingdom and there are many colours and leaf forms. Whites and pink flowers predominate but bright red varieties are available.

C.libanoticum is often grown in pots to flower January – April. It can withstand severe cold but dislikes wet soil.

C. persicum is tender and forms the stock for many florists Cyclamen. The flowers are generally held high above the leaves.

C. hederifolium flowers pink a bit earlier than some varieties. Leaves appear after flowering. Plants are best sited under shade as provided by a deciduous tree. The underside of the leaves are red coloured.

Other winter flowering species include C. pseudibericum and C. trochopteranthum a horizontal growing variety.

For more information on the Cyclamen species read any Guide by Chris Grey-Wilson


Storage Rot of Tubers and Bulbs

Bulbs that are stored over winter can be susceptible to rot and fungus. To avoid problems check them regularly and remove and destroy any that are effected.

Ornamental bulbs, tubers and corms that may be affected include begonias, gladioli, tulips and dahlias. Edible crops that can be affected include potatoes, onions and garlic. You will know about rot when you smell some of these .

Onion Rots Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs

Types of Bulb Rot

  • Damp conditions help grey  botrytis or blue/green penicillium fungal rots.
  • Damaged items allow bacteria to enter the bulb and grow.
  • Post-harvest rots are also caused by fungi and bacteria from the soil or from infections in rotting leaves prior to harvesting.
  • Species specific fungal attacks can cause gladioli core rot, tulip fire, onion neck rot and others.

Storage Tips

  • Harvest carefully, damaged goods rot quickest.
  • Clean off soil and  dry off excess moisture. I then wrap some bulbs in newspaper.
  • Look for signs of black seed-like sclerotia of botrytis.
  • Discard any with signs of soft soggy tissue.
  • Store in dry cool conditions on clean storage trays. Leave space so bulbs do not touch and spread any disease.
  • Dust with a sulphur based inhibitor.

Sack rot and cart it off but not to your compost heap!


Camassia Flowers and Food

Some Camassia species were an important food staple for Native Americans and settlers in parts of North American

  • Camassia quamash or wild hyacinth will naturalise in grass and is happy in moist ground.
  • These bulbs have a reputation of being tough and hardy and thrive in less than perfect soils.
  • Camassia leichtlinii is a spring flowering bulb with spires of creamy-white flowers although the more normal powder blue varieties are more often planted.
  • Camassia prefer to grow undisturbed and are not ideal for containers.
  • Flowers open in spring and attract bees for their nectar.

Death Camases are liliaceous, perennial herbs and are not edible.



Scilla or Squill Should Look Like This?

After the ‘Lord Mayors Parade’ gardeners get the manure. After the snow and sometimes during the snow gardeners get the Glory of the Snow or at least the glory of Scilla.
To have a display that looks like a professional start 3 years ago.

To have a garden that looks like Kew start 30+ years ago.

Glory of the snow

I like to grow bulbs in the garden but am often put to shame by other displays. I sometimes wonder ‘Why Don’t My Scilla Look Like This?’ but then realise that comparing your garden to Kew garden or international locations means you are on a hiding to nothing.

Scilla auf dem Friedhof

Tips to Look Like This Continue Reading →


Growing Bulbs in Grass

Naturalising means bulbs growing and seeding as they would in the wild; i.e. “in nature”. In some gardens this means growing bulbs in grass instead of borders.
To naturalize bulbs they need to be planted where they can remain undisturbed without the need for the foliage to be prematurely removed. Leaves need to die back for about six weeks after the flowers have faded.

Growing  Bulbs in Grass

  • Crocus will thrive for years if planted in grass with a dry or fast draining soil. If the lawn is lush and gets lots of high nitrogen fertilizer it will stunt the flowering process of the bulbs. You’ll get lots of foliage but no flowers.
  • Plant in groups or clusters so you can mow the other area.
  • You need to be patient as a bulb seedling will take 5-7 years before it has built up reserves to flower. Above all do not deadhead the flowers so they can seed a couple of months after flowering.
  • Plant species bulbs rather than showy doubles.

Continue Reading →


Sparkling Summer Bulbs

Reliable flowering can be expected from summer bulbs and tubers.
Early Summer Flowering
Alliums flower May-July, I like those that look like a burst of stars
Anemone start in April with the woodland varieties then come the blousy De Caen and larger corm types through summer

Dutch Iris look good for a short while in midsummer but I find I get poor results in containers.

Continue Reading →


Double Flowered – Tulips

Tulips blowing gently in the breeze are a sign that summer is around the corner. If you only grow a few tulips then why not splash out on bulbs that will produce double flowers. Tulips can be planted until the end of November.


What are Double Flowers

Double flowers have more than one array of petals so the flower is fuller of petal and colour. That is not just twice the number of petals but more than one array or ring.
Usually the structure of regular flower would be compose of 4 rings; Sepals, Petals, Stamens and Pistils. Sepals are the outermost, green leaf-like organs to support flower when were young. Petals are the main organ to show a flowers appearance. Stamens and Pistils are male and female pollen. Truly Double Flowers must have all 4 rings in each flower but common parlance has more than one ring of petals as a double. Roses, Carnations, Camellia and Peonies often seen in double flowered mode. Continue Reading →


Tips for Growing Tazetta Miniature Daffodils

Daffodils are classified into 13 divisions and currently one of the most popular is Division 8 Tazetta Narcissi. These are a group of low growing daffodils that are at home in rockeries or containers.

AMARYLLIDACEAE 石蒜科 - Narcissus (Narcissus tazetta var. chinensis) 中國水仙

Features of Tazetta Daffodils

Tazettas have several flower heads per stem and look very showy as a result.
All the varieties flower at about 12 inches high.
Tazettas are popular for pot growing and forcing as they do not need a long period of cold before rooting and growing.
Most Tazettas are well scented.

#2729 daffodils (水仙)

Key Varieties of Tazetta Daffodils

Paperwhites are one of the best known Tazetta varieties. They have a good scent and are easy to grow for Christmas flowering or in pot culture.
Cheerfulness has a double perianth (outer petals) and flowers in pure white or as a pure yellow sport often sold as Primrose Beauty.
Cragford is a variety I am growing this year with a plan to cut flowers for indoors. It is scented with white petals and a deep orange / scarlet cup.
Avalanche flowers a bit later in April. It has white petals and lemon coloured central cups.
Geranium is another old favourite with white petals and orange cup.
Scarlet Gem has 4-6 flowers per stem with the best red ey and deep yellow perianth.
Hoopoe has petite yellow scented flowers.
Chinese Sacred Lily Tazettas have creamy white petals with a small, scented and flattened yellow cup.

Narcissus tazetta

Tips for Forcing Tazetta Daffodils

Plant in well drained compost in crocked pots.
Plant so the nose of the bulb is just level with the top of the compost. You can plant the bulbs close together.
Keep the planted-up pot in the cool dark for four to six weeks.
Bring out into brighter light and more warmth until they flower in 6-9 weeks.

Daffodil selection

Other Resources

Daffodils can be ordered now for Autumn delivery from Thompson & Morgan

Other types of Miniature Daffodils and Narcissi Tips
Gardeners tips for Growing Daffodils
Daffodil divisions

Photo Credits
“AMARYLLIDACEAE 石蒜科 – Narcissus (Narcissus tazetta var. chinensis) 中國水仙 by kaiyanwong223 CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
#2729 daffodils (水仙) by Nemo’s great uncle CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Extending the Bulb Flowering Season



Spring flowers are always well received as a way to herald the coming summer. Because spring bulb flowers are highly valued take the opportunity to extend the flowering season, especially in key pot locations.

Start with a careful selection of varieties. Early season, mid season and late varieties exist for Tulips and Daffodils. Crocus are a bit harder but there are autumn varieties for flowering of late bulbs.

How To Have Bulbs flowering for several weeks in Spring

  • Choose sets of bulbs to flower at different times throughout the spring and place into aquatic baskets or transferable containers.
  • For the  early flowering bulbs, plant these in a greenhouse to help their early flowering. Then plant the ‘aquatic baskets’ into the target pot.
  • As a general rule, bulbs need to be planted at a depth of 2-3 times the bulb height.
  • After the first bunch of bulbs have finished flowering, you can remove the aquatic basket and place another set of bulbs into the ornamental pot. In this way you can have  3 -4 sets of flowering bulbs in the same ornamental pot throughout spring. This is an excellent way to give the impression you are an expert gardener.
  • People will be impressed by the long flowering season of your pot, and they may not even realise how you are able to do it.

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