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How to Grow Bulbs by bookssunset

How to Grow Bulbs

by Sunset Books

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Practical manual and encyclopedia of bulbs for North American gardens.

History. Ancient Egyptians grew anemones, and wreathed funerals with narcissus and lilies. Solomon's gardens added crocus. By 380 BC, the Greeks were adding hyacinths to these in ceremonial crowns. The botanist, Theophrastus (340 BC) writes of those, and of alliums, cyclamen, gladiolus, ranunculus, and scillas. Romans valued lilies in their religion. Virgil (70 BC) mentions lilies as symbols of virginity. By the Middle Ages, the lily became a symbol of purity in the Church. The iris is the fleur-de-lis symbol of the kings of France. Tulips were introduced to Western Europe in the Renaissance by Ogier de Busbecq, ambassador of Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I to the court of Sultan Suleiman I, who brought them from Persia. Busbecq took seed to Vienna in 1554. In 1601, a Flemish botanist, Clusius, introduced the tulip bulbs to the Netherlands. Owning an unusual bulb became a status symbol. In 1634, speculation on the value of bulbs created a "tulipomania" which crashed in 1637. Today, Holland is the largest bulb garden in the world.

BULBS. We apply the term "bulb" to any plant with a swollen storage organ from which a stalk grows up and roots grow down. The storage bin can provide for active growth after a period of dormancy--this is why you should not remove the foliage until they have completely finished their work. {IOW tie up the dried leaves to look neat}.

True Bulb. Short underground stem on a solid basal plate, surrounded by fleshy leaves (scales) and a papery tunic. Onion /alium. Bulblets, or "offsets" form off the basal plate. The old may die or like daffodils, keep coming.

Corm. Swollen underground portion of stem with basal plate. Storage is in solid tissue. New corms form from axillary buds on top of old corm during the growing season. Smaller cormels are also produced but they take longer.

Tuber. Short, fat, underground stem which stores food. Potato, begonia, ranunculus. Does not creep like a rhizome, usually knobby with growth buds ("eyes"). Can divide large tubers like rhizomes for new plants.

Tuberous Roots. Roots thickened as food storage structures. Do not bear growth buds, but section can be cut apart. Canna.

Rhizome. Thickened stem for food storage that grows horizontally under the surface of soil. Foliage, roots, and stalks grow from buds on the rhizome. Cut sections with growth buds for new plants. Iris, Calla.


Soil - porous, drains well. If heavy clay, add 30% organic amendments.

Plant - put in when available. Especially lilies, which are never completely dormant and are therefore sensitive to drying out. Exception - daffodils and tulips better refrigerate until warm weather is really over -- winter in ground. Generally, dig in fertilizer and amdt, then plant perennials, then sink the bulbs.

Watering. Keep moist until post-bloom, and leaves are yellow. Good drainage. Mulching to prevent drying, crusting, and muddying.

More than half the book is an encyclopedia of the bulbous plants by name. The Index does list all of them, but little else. ( )
  keylawk | Mar 19, 2012 |
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