Plant Your Bulbs in the Fall for Spring Flowers

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Bulbs are underground storage units that genetically carry starting materials for the plant and provide food storage. These units are asexual, which means they reproduce without the benefit of pollination. Shaped like a globe, membranous, fleshy, and with short stems, bulbs experience an entire life cycle underground. Tulips, daffodils, onions, and garlic are some examples of bulbs.

Flower bulbs

When planting bulbs on the Outer Banks, plant two to three weeks before the ground freezes – late November to early December. Keep in mind that bulbs require full sun and partial shade. Soil temperature should be below 60 degrees and it should be well-drained. Plant bulbs 4  – 8 inches underground.

Planting chartA true bulb has no romance, no pollen exchange, breeds, and propagates in a single underground structure unit and produces the most exquisite flowers.

Types of bulbsThere are five types of bulbs:
1. True bulb – onion, garlic, tulips, daffodils, lilies, hyacinth, amaryllis
2. Corm – crocus, gladiolas, freesia
3. Rhizomes – iris, calla lilies
4. Tubers – sweet potatoes, dahlias, daylilies, begonia
5. Tuberous roots – asparagus, peoniesFlowersBulbs are low maintenance. They can be planted between shrubs, in borders, and in containers – indoors or outdoors. Bulbs do quite well in containers. The flowers produced by bulbs come in many different colors, shapes, and sizes (from 12 – 18 inches). When bulb season is over, the bulbs may be left alone or dug up and stored in a dark, dry, cool area. Do not cut back leaves until they are yellow or dead. Bulbs will survive year after year.Flowers in gardenMother Nature at her finest!


Article was written by: Julia Morris, Extension Master Gardener℠ Volunteer in Dare County