There is a type of plant that has always intrigued me although I have never really dealt with the plants. I’ve really just admired them from afar. I am speaking of the bulb, which includes true bulbs, corms, tubers, tuberous roots and rhizomes.

January is a great time to get a few of the popular spring bulbs into the ground, including tulips and hyacinths — both of which require pre-chilling for best results. Other spring-flowering bulbs such as amaryllis, iris, Easter lily, narcissus, ranunculus, bluebell and calla lily need to be planted between October and December.

There’s nothing that says it’s spring like these flowering bulbs showing their splendor anywhere from February or March until May. But there are some important steps to follow to get these plants up and blooming. Preparing the soil to be well-draining is important to keep the bulbs healthy, as well as adding organic matter to the bed. They will need at least five to six hours of direct sunlight per day, preferably in a southern exposure.

Bulbs must be placed in the ground correctly, with the pointed end in an upright position in order for the leaf sprouts to rise up out of the bulb. The depth they are to be planted varies somewhat according to the type of bulb you select. Read the packaging directions or ask a nursery professional.

Overwatering bulbs is a common mistake and will rot them. This is why well-draining soil is a must. Once roots form, this is less of a problem. Bulbs can be dug up and stored, but in our area it is not usually necessary. Trim off yellowed leaves and stems after the blooming season to keep the bulb healthy.

Having a plan is very helpful when dealing with bulbs. Knowing the colors and bloom cycles helps a great deal to have an organized and constant display. It also helps keep track of what you have and where it is planted, if it needs to be removed and chilled, height information so tall ones are planted further to the back, etc.

Bulbs are a fun way to bring seasonal color to landscaping and require minimal maintenance.

Remember, buying locally increases the chance of successful flowering.

Darla Menking is a certified Bell County Texas Master Gardener and a Texas Master Naturalist. Email her at

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