Gardening With Bulbs


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An introduction to the cultivation of bulbs, including morphology, selection, planting, and forcing.

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  • Botanically, True Bulbs are the modified leaves, called scales, that serve as the primary storage organs of plants in their resting stage of life. True Bulbs are spheroidal, laminated, or scaly bodies which arise at from a compressed stem, often called a basal plate, below the surface of the soil. This specialized structure serves as an underground storehouse.
  • Scalene bulbs possess regularly arranged, scaly leaves overlapping one another (imbricated), and do not possess a tunic.
  • Tunicate bulbs, such as onions, possess a tunic; a paper thin layer of protective tissue on their exterior. These structures are composed of a basal plate, from which roots grow, and layers of scale leaves, one upon the other.
  • The “bulb” of many plants, such as celeriac, turnips, gloxinias, tuberous begonias and cyclamen is actually enlarged hypocotyl tissue; a swollen stem that develops between the radicle, or primary root, and a plants first leaves.
  • Size – larger bulb = larger, more prolific flowering; relatively speaking
    Firmness – good indicator of health. Avoid bulbs softened by bacterial or fungal disease; indicates decay
    Utilization – bedding, forcing, naturalizing, etc.
    Longevity – one year? Many years?
    Resistance to deer, squirrels, etc.
    Hardiness – tolerant of our temperature extremes, winter as well as summer
    Bloom Sequence
  • Uzbekistan's climate is classified as continental, with hot summers and cool winters.
    Summer temperatures often surpass 104 °F; winter temperatures average about 28 °F, but may fall as low as −40 °F.
    Most of the country also is quite arid, with average annual rainfall amounting to between 3.9 and 7.9 in and occurring mostly in winter and spring.
    Between July and September, little precipitation falls, essentially stopping the growth of vegetation during that period.
  • Daffodil bulbs and leaves are poisonous to most insects and animals, and hyacinth bulbs repel pests.
    However, chipmunks, voles, mice, woodchucks, squirrels and other animals will forage for and eat newly planted tulips, grape hyacinths, glory-of-the-snow, crocus and the majority of other bulbs.
    Consider animal repellents (Ropel); surround each bulbs with a handful of sharp, crushed gravel like Volebloc (Carolina Stalite Co.) Consider constructing a large wire box, submerged in the soil.
    Squirrel feeders?
  • Netting, and poultry wire (mesh)
  • Crocus tommasinianus
  • Gardening With Bulbs

    1. 1. An Introduction to BulbsAn Introduction to Bulbs Eric StormerEric Stormer
    2. 2. What is a bulb?What is a bulb? Scalene Bulb (Lilium) Tunicate Bulb (Tulipa)
    3. 3. Scalene Bulb (Scalene Bulb (LiliumLilium)) bulbils bulblets
    4. 4. Tunicate BulbsTunicate Bulbs
    5. 5. ““Generic Bulbs” –Generic Bulbs” – OtherOther GeophytesGeophytes ““GeoGeo” (of the earth) +” (of the earth) + ““phytephyte” (a plant living in) =” (a plant living in) = GeophyteGeophyte  CormsCorms  Tubers & Tuberous RootsTubers & Tuberous Roots  RhizomesRhizomes  Enlarged HypocotylEnlarged Hypocotyl
    6. 6. CormCorm  Swollen stem baseSwollen stem base modified into a massmodified into a mass of storage tissueof storage tissue  Does not possessDoes not possess storage rings whenstorage rings when cut in halfcut in half Crocosmi a
    7. 7. Tubers & Tuberous RootsTubers & Tuberous Roots  Fleshy modifiedFleshy modified underground stem orunderground stem or rootroot  Serves to store foodServes to store food reserves for the plantreserves for the plant  Stem tubers bearStem tubers bear buds, “eyes”buds, “eyes”  Tuberous rootsTuberous roots develop fromdevelop from adventitious rootsadventitious roots Tuberous roots of Dahlia Caladium tuber, de-eyed
    8. 8. RhizomeRhizome  Thickened, modifiedThickened, modified stem growingstem growing horizontally,horizontally, underground or justunderground or just along the soil surfacealong the soil surface Iris
    9. 9. Enlarged HypocotylEnlarged Hypocotyl Begonia x tuberhybrida Cyclamen persicum
    10. 10. Selecting Bulbs -Selecting Bulbs - ConsiderationsConsiderations  Size – larger plants = larger blossomsSize – larger plants = larger blossoms  Condition – plump, firm, clean & healthyCondition – plump, firm, clean & healthy  Utilization – bedding, naturalizing, forcingUtilization – bedding, naturalizing, forcing  Longevity – treat as annual or perennialLongevity – treat as annual or perennial  Resistance – to deer, squirrels, etc.Resistance – to deer, squirrels, etc.  HardinessHardiness  Seasonality – spring, summer, fallSeasonality – spring, summer, fall  Blossoming – Sequential or ConsecutiveBlossoming – Sequential or Consecutive  Planting Time/Temperature – DecemberPlanting Time/Temperature – December
    11. 11. Where do hardy bulbs come from?
    12. 12. Tidewater
    13. 13. Soil PreparationSoil Preparation  Well drained soil is necessary, especiallyWell drained soil is necessary, especially for long-term survivalfor long-term survival  Incorporate compost, peat moss, courseIncorporate compost, peat moss, course sand (to improve drainage) as necessarysand (to improve drainage) as necessary  pH should be between 5.5 – 6.5pH should be between 5.5 – 6.5  Consider raised beds where soil drainageConsider raised beds where soil drainage is problematicis problematic
    14. 14. FertilizationFertilization  Incorporate fertilizer in soil at plantingIncorporate fertilizer in soil at planting  Consider a prepared “bulb fertilizer”Consider a prepared “bulb fertilizer”  Consider dried blood (2lb per 100 squareConsider dried blood (2lb per 100 square foot); also discourages squirrelsfoot); also discourages squirrels  Fertilize (slow release) in spring afterFertilize (slow release) in spring after leaves emerge, but before plants blossomleaves emerge, but before plants blossom (3 lb. of 5-10-5 per 100 square feet)(3 lb. of 5-10-5 per 100 square feet)
    15. 15. Insects & Other PestsInsects & Other Pests  Aphids - carbaryl, permethrinAphids - carbaryl, permethrin  Spider Mites - insecticidal soap, miticidesSpider Mites - insecticidal soap, miticides  Narcissus bulb fly larvae - malathion drench,Narcissus bulb fly larvae - malathion drench, imidacloprid drenchimidacloprid drench  Thrips - imidacloprid drenchThrips - imidacloprid drench  Squirrels, moles & voles - ultrasonic noise,Squirrels, moles & voles - ultrasonic noise, feeding stations, traps, chicken wire on beds,feeding stations, traps, chicken wire on beds, incorporate sharp gravel in planting holes,incorporate sharp gravel in planting holes, whirling flowers, repellants (capsicum, driedwhirling flowers, repellants (capsicum, dried blood, mothballs, etc.)blood, mothballs, etc.)
    16. 16. MaintenanceMaintenance  Remove foliage only after it has died backRemove foliage only after it has died back naturally; can be pulled from the soilnaturally; can be pulled from the soil without resistancewithout resistance  Mulch to conserve moisture, insulate soilMulch to conserve moisture, insulate soil (minimize temperature fluctuation) and(minimize temperature fluctuation) and discourage weeds – but not too much!discourage weeds – but not too much!  Consider digging and dividing crowdedConsider digging and dividing crowded bulbs (daffodils, crocus) every 5 yearsbulbs (daffodils, crocus) every 5 years
    17. 17. NaturalizingNaturalizing
    18. 18. BeddingBedding
    19. 19. Containerized Bulb PlantingContainerized Bulb Planting
    20. 20. ForcingForcing
    21. 21. The EndThe End