Flowering plants that overwinter and multiply by means of fleshy stems of leaves are called bulbs. The bulbs we grow in our gardens today are native to temperate zones all over the world, the woodlands, meadows and mountains of the Mediterranean, Middle East, and North America.
The Dutch have been extremely successful over the centuries in collection and hybridizing new species of bulbs and improving them for reliable garden performance. Tulips in particular, once played an important role in the Dutch economy.
There is no easier plant to cultivate than a bulb.
Planted at the right time, in a loose, well-draining soil, bulbs will bloom punctually year after year and even spread (“naturalize”) if conditions are to their liking.
By planting a sequence of spring-, summer- and fall-flowering bulbs at the appropriate time, you can enjoy their blooms practically year ‘round.
Fall (late September through late November) – Plant hardy, spring-flowering bulbs: tulips, narcissus (includes all types of daffodils), crocus, eranthis (winter aconites), erythronium, fritillaria, hyacinths snowdrops, scilla, hardy cyclamen, lilies. In California and milder areas of the Southwest, also plant ranunculus, freesias, anemones and paperwhites outdoors. Store tulips, crocus and hyacinths in refrigerator for 6-8 weeks before planting. In all regions, store potted bulbs in refrigerator for forcing indoors.
Winter – In California, plant prechilled- hardy bulbs outdoors. In all regions, remove sprouted bulbs from refrigerator for indoor forcing.
Spring – Plant more tender, summer-flowering bulbs: achimenes, gladioli, alliums, calla lilies, tuberous begonias, ixia, crocosmia, dahlias, cannas.
Late Summer – Plant the late bloomers: fall crocus, fall- and winter-blooming hardy cyclamen.