Bulbs, Tubers and Corms for UK Gardens

A great advantage of bulbs and corms is that many flower in late winter or early spring, bringing colour and fragrance into the garden when little else is in bloom. Also many summer flowering varieties, such as Crocosmia and Gladioli, provide spectacular displays that are difficult to match.

Bulbs and corms are relatively inexpensive and one of the easiest of all plants to grow. They can be grown anywhere in the garden - in hanging baskets, window boxes, pots, containers, in the borders or naturalised in the lawn. In fact you can grow bulbs almost anywhere if the conditions are right. One important thing to remember is that all bulbs need good drainage wherever you plant them. If not, they can rot very quickly in waterlogged conditions.

The main difference between corms and bulbs is that corms replace themselves each year. Some of the most popular corms grown in English Gardens are Crocus, Crocosmia, Freesias, Corn Lilies and Gladioli.


Bulbs and Corms for Winter and Spring Interest

Anemone blanda

Anemone blanda
Windflower

Crocus

Crocus
Spring Crocus

Cyclamen

Cyclamen
Sow Bread

Eranthis hyemalis

Eranthis
Winter aconite

Snowdrops

Galanthus
Snowdrop

Iris reticulata

Iris reticulata

Narcissus

Narcissus
Daffodil


Bulbs and Corms for Summer and Autumn Interest

Allium

Allium

Crocosmia

Crocosmia
Montbretia

Gladiolus

Gladiolus
Sword Lily

Lilium

Lilium
Lily

Nerine

Nerine bowdenii
Spider Lily


When to Buy Bulbs and Corms

You can normally buy bulbs in late summer or early autumn from garden and nursery centres. When choosing bulbs make sure that they feel firm and show no signs of bruising or mildew. You can also order bulbs directly from suppliers from thier annual catalogues. Plant your bulbs as soon as you have bought them otherwise they will either start to grow, dry out or become mildewed. This will weaken them and result in poor growth and small flowers. Bulbs are usually planted at two or three times the depth of the bulb. Never push bulbs into the ground. Firstly make a suitable hole with a dibber or trowel and place the bulb at the bottom of the whole (shoot end uppermost) then cover with soil.

Outdoor bulbs that are naturalised should be left to die down naturally once the flowers have finished. Unless you are collecting seed, cut off all dead flower heads as soon as they have faded. This will ensure that all the energy is put back into the bulb ready for flowers the next year. Continue to water and feed the leaves, and only remove the foliage once it has totally withered.