Getting Started / Bulb 101

Types of Bulbs
What is a bulb? One of the first things to understand when getting started with gardening is the difference in terms used when referencing a plant's storage organ. Many times, the word "bulb" is misused when describing the root system (or storage organ)of a bulbous plant. Not all bulbous plants are true bulbs. On our website, you will notice the following terms used when describing our products:

True Bulb Tuber Corm
True bulb tuber corm
A true bulb is a compressed stem formed from layers of modified leaves that enlarge as they store nutrients. The roots are produced from the bottom of this bulb and the stem will emerge from a growing point at the top. Some bulbs have dry outer scales called a "tunic" that helps protect the inner parts of the bulb from over-drying. Examples: Tulips, Daffodils, Lilies, and Allium. A tuber is a thickened, underground stem which bears many eyes (buds) on its surface. These tubers systems are covered with a tough skin and often wiry hairs. Tubers grow horizontally to the ground as part of the root system of the plant. Examples: Caladiums, Begonias, and Cyclamen. A corm is a mass of stem tissues, often bearing a terminal bud on the top and several other lateral buds. Dry leaf bases (similar to tunics) help protect the stem of the corm from harsh weather conditions and lack of moisture. Examples: Gladiolus and Crocus.

Rhizome Tuberous Root Perennial Root
rhizome tuberous root perennial root
Rhizomes are swollen stems which
grow horizontally below or just at the soil's surface. The length of these rhizomes produces multiple eyes (buds) which send shoot above the ground. Roots grow from the underside of these storage organs. Examples: Bearded
Iris and Cannas.
Tuberous roots are true roots which are swollen for food and nutrient storage. The buds are only present at the crown or the stem end of the root with thickened, fleshy tubers scattered along the length of the root. Examples: Dahlias and Ranunculus. Perennial roots are true roots with a fleshy appearance and texture. The roots are often slightly swollen to hold nutrients and moisture. These roots have very little protection from injury and drying when unearthed and therefore, are often stored in somewhat damp peat moss during the transplanting process.

Life Cycle of a Bulb
Life Cycle of a Flower Bulb
The bulb is dormant and has been gathering energy after its spring bloom for the last several months. It will remain this way unless it is harvested for fall planting.

The bulb has been planted and is now forming roots to prepare for winter. It is continuing to gather energy for its blooms.

New growth emerges through the soil as soil temperatures warm in the spring and late winter.

Bloom Time
The bulb has spent almost a whole year gathering energy for its spring blooms. It has rested and received the proper amount of light, moisture and cold temperatures and is now ready to bloom.

Preparing for Dormancy
Once the blooms have faded, the foliage begins to yellow and fade away. The bulb is not dying, but rather gathering energy through the leaves for the next season's blooms.

Find your Zone
Gardeners need a way to compare their garden climates with the climate where a plant is known to grow well. That's why climate zone maps were created. Zone maps are tools that show where various permanent landscape plants can adapt. If you want a shrub, perennial, or tree to survive and grow year after year, the plant must tolerate year-round conditions in your area (hardiness zone), such as the lowest and highest temperatures and the amount and distribution of rainfall.
Find Your Zone
Zone Map