Bulbs in the Garden Bulbs in the Garden

Humans' love of flowering bulbs goes back to prehistoric times. Ancient Egyptians planted onions, and early civilizations on the Mediterranean island of Crete prized saffron from a variety of crocus. During the 1640s, tulips were all the rage in Europe and its many strains are still prized today. The lily is closely associated with Christianity and has come to symbolize the Virgin Mary.

People today still love these flowers and plant bulbs indoors and out. Generally gardeners plant bulbs in the fall to turn out beautiful blossoms in the spring. The following article describes various popular bulbs for your outdoor garden and tips to care for them.

There are a few considerations to make when purchasing bulbs. Decide where you want to buy them - garden centers, mail order catalogues or specialty high-end nurseries. When buying them in person, make sure the bulbs have a firm neck with no visible stem growth - if the tip of the shoot is present, it’s ok to buy. Also, you’ll want to see that the surface of the bulb is clean, and when held, it should feel firm and somewhat heavy for its size. It’s also a good idea to see that there is no root growth apparent as well.

Tulips are perhaps the most popular of the bulbs. There are literally hundreds of different varieties. They bloom in spring and are best planted in November and December. They do best in full sunlight.

Crocuses are traditionally planted to bloom after snowdrops, but before tulips. There are many varieties available in many colors. All are wine glass-shaped with six petals. There are both spring and autumn blooming varieties, so you will have to decide what works best for your garden and climate.

Dalias are normally seen in a late summer garden. They generally do well in well drained soil with some sunlight. They come in many colors and varieties, and are a great choice for flower arrangers who work with cut flowers from the garden. The decorative and pompon-shaped varieties are quite attractive.

Peruvian Lilies grow well in relatively dry light soil exposed to sun and light shade. They are available in yellow, orange, pink, red and even purple. Planting time is March / April, and they bloom in June and July. The only reason you see them so seldom in gardens is because they produce few flowers the first year. Be patient! They are worth waiting for!

Begonias come in many varieties. The variety mentioned here tends to flower by late June through September. They flourish in sun or light shade, but they require a soil lush with organic matter. They work great for borders or hanging baskets.

Hyacinths are also available in many varieties. Cynthella Hyacynths are particularly attractive, but few plants rival it for sheer beauty with its flowering stalks of either pink, purple, yellow, red, white and even blue. They thrive in sun or light shade.

Irises and their many varieties require a well-drained soil with full sun. They are often seen in purple, yellow or white. Different varieties will flower best in fall or spring.

Lillies, too, come in many varieties. All tend to require well-drained soil with some shade. Many colors and hybrids are available, and many give off a desirable scent.

Narcissus is best planted August through October in any well-drained soil. They are one of the most popular spring flowers and come in many different varieties.

Chinese Ground Ochids should be planted in well-drained soil in a mild climate. Planting time is March / April. They bloom in June and July. Remember to keep mulch placed over the ground during winter.

Spanish Hyacinths are a beautiful addition to your garden and bloom in white and shades of blue. They should be planted in September / October. Each delicate bloom resembles a tiny bluebell.

Wand Flowers require full sunlight and well-drained soil. These beauties needs their space, however - they may grow about five feet, but their pink blooms look so lovely blowing in the breeze. A great choice for a romantic garden.

Foxtail Lilies make for a great border plant. They do need sunlight in the afternoon into the evening, as well as a well-drained soil. They look exceptional in orange and burnt orange, but also show up in white, pink and yellow.

Freesia blooms in two-toned shades, and are simply breathtaking to behold. It needs composted soil and should be planted in July-August.

Snow Drops are early spring flowers in white that need light shade and moist soil. Plant them in September-October and you may see them as early as late January.

Gladiolus are very popular in outdoor gardens and come in many varieties and colors such as white, yellow, red, orange, purple and pink. Large flowering varieties as well as miniature hybrids are available. They do best in full sun in a well-drained soil. Gardeners like them to add a little height to otherwise flat areas.

Spring Saffron is an early spring bloomer and does best in full sun. Its color is a lovely shade of fuschia and at first glance, it resembles a crocus. Plant them in September / October.

Indian Shots, or Canna, are vibrant flowers that require an organically rich soil and full sunlight. Particularly lovely in red and orange, plant their bulbs in June.

Lily of the Valley grows in soil that retains moisture well. Plant them November – March. Available in pink or white, they bloom generally in April.

There are hundreds more bulbs to choose from. Study your garden to see what shapes and colors will be most attractive in your space. Mail order catalogs will provide additional information for the various bulbs they sell. Remember to wear gloves when planting your bulbs - some people are sensitive to them. Also, its parts are poisonous if eaten, so keep them away from children.

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