A-Z of bulbs and corms
Bulbs, corms, tubers and rhizomes are perennial plants in which the lower part of the stem has evolved into an underground food store. Compared to other perennials, bulbs are cheap to buy, easy to grow and, apart from such notable exceptions as dahlias, demand little attention after planting.
There are bulbs for every garden, whatever its size andtype, and for every situation. Bulbs can be grown in formal beds or naturalized in grass, in pockets in the rock garden or gaps in herbaceous borders; they can be grown in , in pots, tubs and window-boxes, as well as providing blooms for cut .
Bulbs bloom throughout the year – snowdrops, aconites and tiny irises in winter, followed by swathes of cheerful crocuses, goldenand narcissi, muscaris, hyacinths and tulips in almost every colour. Late spring welcomes fritillaries and bluebells, lily-of-the-valley, irises and alliums, and with summer come the glorious , crocosmias and gladioli. Finally it is the turn of dahlias, colchicums and other autumn crocuses, sternbergias and the exotic nerines.
Many bulbs die down and disappear underground after flowering; others leave a mess of untidy leaves. Don’t be tempted to remove the foliage until it has withered – it needs exposure to sun and air to replenish the bulbs for the following year. Half-hardy types, such as gladioli, dahlias and begonias, must be lifted before the first frost, dried off and kept in frost-free storage for next year’s colourful display.