Recently, I have received numerous calls on bulbs so giving some background information on bulbs will be the theme of this week’s article.
I will share information from a UGA publication on flowering bulbs authored by Paul Thomas, Gary Wade and Bodie Pennisi, UGA Extension Horticulturists.
What is a bulb? This is a key point. In this article, the word bulb is going to reference true bulbs and other bulb-like structures such as corms, tubers, tuberous roots and stems and also rhizomes.
The main function of these modified plant parts is food storage. This food storage is important to assist in plant survival. Note that when you do your research knowing the differences in these parts is important since each is processed differently in regard to care, propagation and culture.
Planting time for the different bulbs is important. You plant spring flowering bulbs in the fall. In Georgia, you plant the spring flowering bulbs from October to December in most areas.
If you can’t plant the bulbs right away, you need to store them properly. This means to store them in a dry area that stays about 60-65 degrees F. If the temperature gets much about 65 F, you can damage the flower buds.
On the other hand, summer flowering bulbs are planted in spring when the danger of frost has passed. In our area, we generally say that we have our last frost about middle April.
When choosing a planting site, note that most spring flowering bulbs prefer light shade to full sunshine. This means to try to pick an area that provides at least six to 10 hours of direct light per day. Lighting requirements for, say summer flowering bulbs, can be more varied. When purchasing bulbs, make sure you study up on the light requirements for that particular item.
Improper lighting can result in poor flowering while over doing the light can bleach out flowers and foliage of that bulb.
When preparing a bulb bed, it can be noted that many of the bulb plants are less sensitive to the particular soil of other plants.
Most bulbs do like a moist, well- drained medium sandy loam area that does not stay overly wet after rainfall. The area does not need to dry out too quick either. Note in a previous sentence that I said a well-drained area. Good drainage is one of those keys to bulb success. Check the drainage of the area.
One option suggested by Thomas, Wade and Pennisi is to dig a hole a foot deep and fill with water. Come back the next day and fill with water again and see how long the water stays in the dug hole. If the water drains out in eight to 10 hours, the area is suitable to grow bulbs.
A soil pH between 6.0-6.8 is best for bulbs. The pH can be properly checked by a soil test. You can get fertilizer recommendations this way too.
When selecting bulbs, there are many options available. Bulbs are going to be a personal preference. You will need to decide on if you want spring or summer bloomers or a combination of each.
Do your research and decide the route you want to go. You can buy bulbs in several different fashions. If you are able to put your hands on the bulbs you may buy, remember to stay away from bulbs that are soft, look molded or look even discolored.
Bulbs should be firm to the touch and be free of blemishes. According to the specialists, there is a relationship between the quality of the bulb and then the quality of the resulting flower.
Finally, adding bulbs to your landscape is a way to add more color and a more unique flavor to your gardening efforts.
First do your homework on the kind of bulbs you want to plant. When you do your research, you may note that most bulbs are categorized according to their hardiness, time of bloom and size of the bulb. Make sure you have an adequate place to plant your particular bulbs.
For more information on flowering bulbs contact Gordon County Extension at 706-629-8685 or email email@example.com.