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Plant bulbs now for showy spring

November 23, 2013

Plant bulbs now for showy spring

In the Lone Star State, durable plants abound.

Many are bulbous, such as iris, daylily, cannas, daffodil and grape hyacinth. Fall is the best season to plant many common bulbs. To best enjoy these tough beauties, learn a few bulb basics, such as:

Technically, bulbs are underground structures that contain the nutrients that plants need to sprout and flower. During the growing season, plant foliage produces foods, which are stored in the bulbous structures. This food sustains the plants when dormant and gives them energy to grow another season. Do not trim the foliage until it is brown.

Botanists divide bulbs into six types: true bulbs, corms, tubers, tuberous roots, rhizomes and enlarged hypocotyls.

Bulbs are categorized based on bloom period, such as spring or fall flowering.

Bulbs are easily grown among perennials and other landscape plants.

Larger bulbs generally produce larger blossoms.

Clustering a large number of small bulbs can make a big impact.

When buying bulbs, avoid any that appear bruised, soft, moldy or bug-ridden.

If bulbs are stored before planting, keep them in a cool, dry and well-ventilated location to avoid excessive drying. To prevent rot, use mesh or other well-ventilated bags for storage. Avoid plastic bags.

When storing bulbs for an extended time, keep them in a medium such as dry peat, perlite or vermiculate to slow drying. Do not wet the medium.

If bulbs are kept in a refrigerator, do not store them near ripening fruit or vegetables, which emit ethylene gas that affects flowering.

Plant bulbs in well-drained soil to avoid rot. Mix organic matter into heavy soil to loosen it and promote drainage.

Give spring-flowering bulbs 6-10 hours of direct light while actively growing. Many summer-flowering bulbs need protection from full sun.

Spring and early summer flowering bulbs require an adequate period of chill to bloom well. Plant them in November/early December, to ensure adequate chill.

Summer flowering bulbs, such as caladiums, perform best in warm temperatures. Their hardiness varies so they are often treated as annuals.

For answers to your horticulture questions, please call the Texas AgriLife Extension, Hood County at 817-579-3280 and ask to speak to a Master Gardener or visit the website at hoodcountymastergardeners.org.

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Category: Horticulture Archived