Bulbs, Corms And Tubers from A to Z

Here is a fairly decent list of the major bulbs. corms and tubers grown indoors, outdoors and in greenhouses.

I have kept the details fairly brief in this section. For more detailed information on the various plants and how to look after them, either click the link or search the site.

Bulbous plants are a real delight and infinitely varied. Experiment and buy some you have never tried to see how you get on. You can buy almost any variety of bulb online nowadays.

To scroll down to the plant you want, click on the link in the table of contents below.



Achimenes (Gesneria family) (hot water plant)

These greenhouse plants require a growing temperature of at least 60°F ( 16°C). Their fragile stems can be supported by twigs or allowed to fall out of a hanging basket. The small trumpet-shaped flowers, freely produced, are in shades of pink, violet blue and purple. The tubers are small scaly rhizomes, best started into growth in a box of peat and sand and then transferred to the hanging baskets when growing. In 5-6 in. pots space them 2-3 in. apart in JIP 1 and cover by 1 in. They can be started into growth from February to April for succession of bloom. Once in growth never allow them to dry out and keep the atmosphere humid by spraying or red spider mite may attack. Pinch out growing points to cause branching, especially when in hanging baskets. When in flower transfer to a cooler place will ensure a longer display, as will shading from direct sunshine. Dry slowly after flowering and store in their soil in a dry place at a temperature of 50°F ( 10°C).

Plants can be increased by soft cuttings in spring in a warm propagator, by seeds sown in March, in a temperature of 65-70°F ( 8- 21°C), or by removing scales and sowing them like seeds. Forking tubers can be divided.

Acidanthera (Iris family)

A. bicolor murielae is a half-hardy corm with 2-3 ft. spikes of fragrant white flowers with maroon in the throat. The flowers are rarely open before October or November if planted outside in March-April, but this can be overcome by starting them in pots in a cool greenhouse or frame and planting out in late May-June. Alternatively they can be grown in beds in a cool greenhouse. Stake to prevent wind damage outside and lift before frost occurs.

Allium (Lily family)

The ornamental onions are bulbs which produce heads of small flowers in soft colours on stems ranging from 3 in. to 4 ft. There are good plants for naturalizing in thin woodland, but most need a sunny site on the edge or in the body of a mixed border, on a rock garden or scree or even the protection of an alpine house. Many make good cut flowers. Some have a strong onion smell when bruised, therefore plant these where they will not be brushed against. The British wild ramsons, A llium ursinum, and also Allium triquetrum (both white) can be naturalized.

Amaryllis (Amaryllis family) (belladonna lily, Jersey lily)

This is a slightly tender plant which can be grown outdoors in well-drained but well-fed warm borders, such as under a south or south-west wall where they can have the maximum amount of sunshine.

The large heads of fragrant, trumpet-shaped flowers are soft pink, but there is a good white called `flathor’ and various deep pink forms. Flowers appear in September on 2-3 ft. stems before the leaves.

The bulbs are very large and work their necks out of the soil, but it is wise to start them just below the surface and to mulch well before frost occurs. Leave them to form dense clumps before lifting and replanting.

Anemone (Ranunculus family)

A. coronaria hybrids, the poppy anemones, have large flowers, on 8-12 in. stems, in bright red, violet, lavender and purple, some shaded with white, single in De Caen varieties and semi-double in St Brigid. In mild districts flowers can be had in succession by planting the irregularly shaped tubers at any time; elsewhere they are usually put in in April, June and September. They require rich, moist, well-cultivated soil and are suitable for planting in the kitchen garden. Protect plants intended for winter flowering (from September-October planting) by cloches or frames.

A. blanda has little tubers. Soak the tubers before planting in autumn 1 ½ in. deep in a sunny position, or under deciduous shrubs pruned off the ground. White, pink, blue, violet and carmine forms occur.

Babiana (Iris family) (baboon plant)

B. stricta makes an excellent cool greenhouse pot plant. It has 1 ft. high spikes of magenta, blue, purple or sulphur-yellow flowers and can be grown in sheltered borders.

In the greenhouse treat all these like freesias grown from corms but plant babianas deeper or they will make droppers to pull themselves down. Outdoors they flower in June, but in pots are earlier.

Camassia (Lily family)

C. quamash varies in flower colour from purplish-blue to creamy-white. It likes good soil and produces fine clumps of flowers 2-3 ft. high. It flowers in June-July, but all the flowers on a spike come out at once, so giving it a rather short but striking flowering season. C. leichthnii, with rather larger individual flowers on 3 ft. stems, has the same colour range and is very fine in its cream forms. All have large bulbs which need planting at least 4 in. deep.

Canna (Canna family) (Indian shot)

Cannas have swollen rootstocks which will withstand drying right out during their resting period, October to March, though they do best if packed in just moist peat or left in the soil in their pots, only being knocked out to re-pot in fresh JIP 3. The varieties and hybrids of C. indica produce large, brilliantly coloured flowers, mainly yellow, orange or scarlet, often spotted with a darker red, on 2 ½ to 3 ft. high stems, with broad green or dark red leaves.

Cannas are tender and need cool house temperatures even when at rest. Brought into leaf by moderate watering in March and kept growing steadily, in good rich soil, they will flower from June until the Autumn. If used outside, bring in before hard frosts occur. When necessary split up the clumps carefully before planting.

Chionodoxa (Lily family) (glory of the snow)

C. luciliae produces its bright blue, white centred starry flowers in March or April, several on a 6-in. Stem. It enjoys sunny places but does not object to some shade after the leaves have died down. It should be fed moderately. Plant in autumn 2 in. deep and leave the bulbs until they are overcrowded. It can also make a useful pan for indoors, planted in JIP 1 in autumn and treated like hyacinths in pots.

Colchicum (Lily family) (autumn crocus)

The earliest to flower is the British wild C. autumnale, the rosy-lilac buds pushed up without any leaves being known as ‘Naked Boys’. A whole group of 2-in. Flowers is usually produced from each bulb and each flower flops over as soon as it has finished.

The best to grow are C. byzantium and C. speciosum, and their hybrids which have much bigger flowers rather like rose-pink or white tulips on stalks about 9 in. to 1 ft. high in September. Some like Water-lily’, are double flowered. Others have chequered markings like fritillaries.

The big bulbs need planting during their short dormant season, in July for C. autumnale, and August for the later ones.

No leaves are produced until the following spring, when C. byzantium and C. speciosum produce big pleated leaves, which are much too dominant for the edge of most borders. They are best planted in front of shrubs or as a border to a vegetable plot where they enjoy the rich, limed soil.

Crinum (Amaryllis family)

C. x powellii is a hybrid, hardier than either of its South African parents. It is a large bulb, up to 1 ft. high, which can be grown in tubs and wheeled out of a cool greenhouse during the summer, or planted permanently under a sunny wall in mild places. Its 2 ½-3 ft. stem has several buds on top which open successively, each flower being a large trumpet. It may be had in flower any time from July to September and varies from pure white to deep pink.

Spring planting is best; the necks gradually work out of the soil and need protection during cold weather.

Crocosmia (Iris family)

The montbretias (C. x crocosmiiflora)are hybrids; the common form is hardy in most places. It has 2-3 ft. branching stems of small, trumpet-shaped, orange-red flowers, produced freely, even in poor soil, during August. They appreciate a sunny situation and moderate feeding. There are named hybrids with much bigger flowers which have the merit that they do not have long spreading stolons.

C. masonorum, 2 ½-3 ft., has arching growth. The deep orange-red flowers, produced in July, all face upwards.

Corms of choice varieties can be lifted in October and replanted in spring, but are best kept in slightly moist peat.

Crocus (Iris family)

The large-flowered Dutch hybrids flower in March, and the little species crocus, by careful planning, will give flowers from September to March. The autumn and winter flowering ones are available from July to August and need to be put in immediately, as some will flower almost at once. The rest can be planted at any time during the autumn. The Dutch varieties are fine for edging beds and naturalizing in grass and the tiny ones are for alpine house or roc garden or, in many instances for planting under deciduous shrubs, or even for naturalizing in short grass (try C. zonatus, C. speciosus, C. aureus and C. tomasinianus for this). Plant the corms with not above 1 in. of soil over them. The flowers of the autumn flowering ones will come up before the leaves. Do not cut grass with crocus naturalized in it until the leaves have died down. The corms liJce to be well sun baked during the summer. All may be grown in pans, the Dutch ones in bulb fibre also, but must not be brought into a warm place until the flowers are nearly out.

Cyclamen (Primula family)

The tubers of cyclamen get bigger each year but do not make other small tubers, which are only obtained from seedling plants, the sole method of increase. The large greenhouse cyclamen obtainable around Christmas have been raised from seed. Unlike most of the small ‘hardy’ cyclamen the best display is from the new plant raised from seed after about 16 months in a warm greenhouse, and although the corm such a plant forms can be saved and grown for many more years it is not usual to do so.

Species cyclamen are sold either in leaf or as dry corms; the latter should be treated with great care as the loss of the dormant buds sets the plants back permanently. Corms should be lightly covered with sieved leaf mould or peat with some sharp sand and bonemeal, and should not have this pressed down. Similar compost should be used as a top-dressing every autumn before the flowers or leaves appear.

All cyclamen have the characteristic swept-back petals, many have a colour range from white through pink to- carmine, often with throat markings of carmine on the pale flowers, and many have beautiful marbling on their leaves.

Endyrnion (Lily family) (bluebell)

The English bluebell is E. non-scripta and the Spanish bluebell, E. hispanicus. The latter have stiffer, heavier-looking flower spikes and are usually sold mixed in colour, deep blue, sky-blue, lilac pink and white. Both flower in May and can be naturalized in thin woodland, but the bulbs of the Spanish bluebell are more frequently planted in groups in mixed borders or naturalized with daffodils in grass. All do best deep planted in autumn and should not be disturbed unless necessary.

Eranthis (Ranunculus family) (winteraconite)

E. hyemalis, produces bright yellow flowers in February-March on 3-4 in. stems, each ruffed with green bracts. It forms excellent ground cover if planted z in. deep under deciduous shrubs or trees and will naturalize by seed. The tubers are obtainable in August and should be planted without delay. The plants divide successfully immediately after flowering.

Other kinds occasionally available are E. cilicica, with finely cut bronzy foliage, and E. x tubergenii, which lasts in flower longer but does not spread by self-sown seed.

Erythronium (Lily family)

E. dens-canis, the dog’s tooth violet has spotted leaves and nodding pink or white lily-like flowers on 6-in, stems in March-April. Plants do well on chalky soil and in light woodland, where they can be naturalized. They can also be grown in short turf or among shrubs, but must not become dried out in hot weather. Plant about 3 in. deep in autumn.

Other good erythroniums are E. revolutum ‘White Beauty’, to 2 ft. high, white marked with brown, April-May; E. hendersonii, pink with purplish markings stem, April; E. tuolumense, light yellow with bright green unspotted leaves; its best hybrid is ‘Pagoda’, 1-1 ½ ft. All appreciate top-dressing with sieved leaf mould.

Eucomis (Lily family) (pineapple flower)

Eucomis are cool greenhouse plants with thick stems which, in July and August, have small greenish-yellow flowers round the top foot or so of stem, which ends in a tuft of leaves-pineapple fashion. The best known is E. comosa, (syn. E. punctata), occasionally grown in a sunny border. The large bulbs are best planted in 5-in. Pots in February or March. Rest dry in the pots from November to February, in a frost-free place.

Freesia (Iris family)

These are usually offered as coloured hybrids, the funnel-shaped flowers of which may be white, cream, yellow, orange, pinks, blues and mauves. The newer hybrids are usually scented whatever their colour. The wiry, arching stems may reach 2 ft. They are excellent for cutting from February to May.

Plant 7-9 in a 6-in, pot of JIP 1 in August, cover to a depth of 1 in., and put into a cool plunge bed under damp peat for a month until roots are well formed. The greenhouse must be well ventilated, with as dry an atmosphere as possible, with a minimum temperature of 45°F (7°C). The leaves must be supported. After flowering they can be kept growing in a north-facing frame till leaves die down when they should be stored in their pots, dry, until August. Specially prepared corms can be planted outdoors in April for flowering in late summer.

Seed sown in flowering size pots in a propagating frame at 65-70°F (17-21°C) in February-March and grown on cool without any disturbance can be had in flower in November, by bringing them into the greenhouse (minimum 45°F (7°C)) in September.

Fritillaria (Lily family)

F. meleagris, the snake’s head fritillary will grow in most garden soils, especially in thin woodland, but must not dry out completely. It has hanging, wide, bell-like flowers, often white with green markings or purplish-pink, often chequered, on 1-1 ½ ft. stems in April.

F. imperialis, the crown imperial, may reach 3 ft. and has a ring of orange or yellow flowers high on the stem, which is topped with a tuft of leaves. The large bulbs are less liable to rot if started on their sides.

Galanthus (Amaryllis family) (snowdrops)

The common snowdrop, G. nivalis, has many varieties which extend the flowering period from January-February to as early as October with reginae-olgae which flowers before its leaves, to the end of March with `Straffan’. The most readily obtainable are atkinsii, about ten days earlier than the usual type and much taller (6-8 in.); `Amott’s Seedling’, another vigorous kind, and the double form. All grow well in thin woodland and should be planted 3 in. deep in autumn.

G. elwesii is best grown in full sun and should be given a chance to ripen without being overgrown by vegetation. The leaves are broad and the flower stems 6-8 in. long. Galtonia (Lily family) (spire lily G. candicans produces 3-4 ft. spikes of greenish-white, hyacinth-type flowers in summer. It makes fine groups in the middle or back of mixed borders. The large bulbs are best planted 5-6 in. deep in spring and once established can be mulched instead of being lifted in autumn. They do best in rich, moist soil.

Gloriosa (Lily family)

One of the lily family’s few climbing plants, this needs a warm greenhouse, 70°F (21°C) minimum from February to August. The large tubers should be planted 2 or 3 in 8-in, or larger pots of JIP 2 or planted out in the border. Cover with 2 in. of soil.

G. rothschildiana has long-stalked, bright red flowers like a Turk’s cap lily, often with a yellow throat. The leaves have tendrils at the tips and these enable the plants to cling to whatever support is provided.

Other varieties of G. rothschildiana and also G. superba, the glory flower, are sometimes seen with yellow flowers. All need moist, but well-drained soil and a humid atmosphere in summer. G. superba can be grown in an intermediate house. From September to January, when completely dry, all can be housed at 55°F (13°C).

Hippeastrum (Amaryllis family)

H. pratense is the hardiest of these tender bulbs and can be grown in sunny south-walled borders or in a cool greenhouse. It makes a good pot plant, producing 1 ft. stems topped with 2 or 3 deep red trumpet-shaped flowers with yellow throats in spring or early summer.

The better known large greenhouse hybrids —sometimes incorrectly called amaryllis—can be had in flower practically any month of the year in the greenhouse or indoors depending on their treatment. Bulbs put on sale from August onwards have been prevented from spring flowering and should be planted as soon as available, when they can be had in flower from November onwards. (These may be described as ‘prepared bulbs’.) They are followed by normally early-flowering varieties which carry the flowering season through to April. Later varieties carry the bloom round to July or even September if the bulbs are planted in succession.

The 3 ft. stems are usually topped with four enormous trumpet flowers which open in quick succession; there are frequently 2 or more stems per bulb. The bulbs are very large. Place them half into 4-or 5-in. Pots with a cane at the side. The flower stems may come up before the strap-shaped leaves or with them. They must be fed liberally. Any small bulbs which have formed may be removed and should be grown on without any drying off. Dry out the big bulbs as the leaves yellow, store the pots on their sides in a temperature of 50°F (10°C), and leave them thus for about three months before starting the bulbs into growth.

Hyacinths (Lily family)

The Roman hyacinths usually have several slender, loosely packed spikes per bulb; the more spectacular, stiff spiked ‘Dutch’ ones have the flowers closely packed. Both are very fragrant.

The Dutch hyacinths may be bought ‘specially prepared’ and these should be planted as soon as available to give flowers in the greenhouse or indoors by late December or early January. They force well.

For indoors they may be grown in water only, in special hyacinth glasses (discard the bulb after flowering); singly in 3 ½-in, pots, or close packed in larger pots or bowls, with their ‘noses’ just uncovered. Use bulb fibre for bowls and start these in a cold shed or shaded frame so that they are not drowned by rain; pots may be plunged in a cool place outdoors. Do not bring them into the warmth until the roots are well developed and the shoot is starting to grow (usually from 8-10 weeks). Then keep in full light.

Unprepared bulbs which flower about 3 weeks later may be planted in succession to flower from January to April.

Outdoors hyacinths should be planted in rich soil at least 5 in. deep in October—November. Use only unprepared bulbs. If used for formal bedding they should be replaced each season, but if fed well will make good clumps among shrubs.

The Roman hyacinths, which are white, pink or blue, are sometimes used on rock gardens, but are at their best indoors.

After flowering allow the leaves to die down naturally.

Ipheion (Amaryllis family)

I. uniflorum (sometimes listed as Brodiaea, Tritelia or Millauniflora), is a small South African, early-flowering bulb producing white or pale bluish-mauve funnel-shaped flowers 6 in. above the mass of grassy leaves. The best coloured is Wisley Blue’. It needs well-drained soil in a sunny place. Plant in autumn 1 ½ in. deep.

Ixia (Iris family) (African corn lily)

These corms are not quite hardy outside in most gardens, but make interesting cool greenhouse plants flowering after the first spring rush. They are sold in mixed colours including deep carmine, white with red or yellow or purple centre, orange or yellow sometimes bronze outside, on 2 ft. tall arching stems. The flowers close in dull weather but when open fully make a wonderful display. Pot the rather small corms fairly close together in JIP 2, covered with at least 2 in. of soil. Ripen well after flowering.

I. viridiflora, an arresting plant, has blue-green flowers, darker at the centre, in May—June. It needs cool greenhouse treatment and proper ripening. It should be given bonemeal and protected from slugs and small snails. Ixiolirion (Amaryllis family) I. montanum is a slightly tender bulb worth growing as a cut flower in a cool greenhouse. It produces its leaves in winter which prevents it being grown successfully outside. The flowers, on 15-18 in. stems, are in shades of blue, sometimes with violet banding, and bloom in May or June, I. kdebourii being earlier than the darker I. palasii. Plant in autumn in JIP 2.

Lachenalia (Lily family) (Cape cowslip)

These cool greenhouse bulbs flower in early spring in airy conditions. Plant 5-7 close together in 5-in. Pots in August—September, cover with ½-1 in. of JIP 2 and cover with moist peat in a plunge bed until growth starts. Then place the pots in a well-ventilated cool greenhouse.

L. abides nelsonii has spikes of golden-yellow flowers tinged with green; other varieties have paler yellow flowers and may have red markings. L. bulbifera (syn L. pendula) has coral red or salmon tubular flowers marked with purple and green.

Lachenalias often have pleasantly mottled foliage. Their flower spikes are long lasting if kept at 45-50°F (7—10°C), but if brought indoors into 65°F (18°C) or more, the plants soon suffer. Ripen well after flowering by standing on a shelf under the ridge of the greenhouse, and reduce the water until the bulbs are dried out.

Leucojum (Amaryllis family) (snowflake)

L. aestivum, the summer snowflake, flowers from April to May. It has heads of white, green-marked flowers on 1 ½ -2 ft. stems and dark green strap-shaped leaves, and its large bulbs increase rapidly to make big clumps if planted in fairly damp soil. Plant 5 in. deep.

L. vernum has only one or two good sized flowers per 8 in. stem, but very fine bright green foliage and flowers that are out in February—March.

L. autumnale is less hardy but often does well in a sunny, sheltered border. The flowers on 6-8-in, stems are very delicate looking, tinged with pink (not green) and usually come before the leaves. Plant 3 in. deep.

Lilimn (Lily family) (lily)

Lilies are often sold packed in peat or wood shavings to help retain their moisture and protect them. They should be planted as soon as available, from September to January, except for L. candidum and L. testaceum which are usually moved ‘green’, i.e. while still in leaf, after June-July flowering. Any lily can be moved successfully immediately after flowering if care is taken to keep the soil on the roots. As some flower in autumn and others have to come from Japan or N.W. America these may not be on sale until soil conditions outside are far from ideal. In this case pot them immediately and plant out later when conditions are correct.

With the exception of L. candidum and other European lilies such as L. martagon which make roots from the base of the bulbs only, lilies should be planted with soil at least twice the depth of the bulb above it, thus a 2 in. deep bulb would need a hole 6-7 in. deep. This is because many lilies make roots from the stem in the first few inches of soil, in addition to those below the bulb. Sites for such lilies must be weed free, for hoeing near them is disastrous. Many lilies grow wild in the company of low-growing shrubs, the roots of which help to drain the soil, and others are found on steep slopes where moisture is flowing under the surface for much of the year, but all are on well-drained sites, and if necessary special beds must be made with extra peat and sharp sand to retain moisture but allow free drainage. Beds or even hummocks of such soil which will raise the roots and bulbs above the winter water table may make all the difference between success and failure. Some lilies will tolerate lime and others die if given it. Most lilies like to have their flowering stems in the sun, at least for part of the day, and grow well with a ground cover of low shrubs, or even annuals to protect their roots.

Lily bulbs should be examined to make sure there is no basal rot present, as this will cause the scales to fall away. Such bulbs should be burnt. The bulbs can be dusted with a fungicide to prevent the spread of the fungal disease which causes death of leaves and even of the whole shoot. Once the plants are growing they can be protected from this disease by spraying with a systerhic fungicide. Virus diseases are incurable, but their spread can be checked by spraying plants with a systemic insecticide which kills aphids which spread virus diseases. Some lilies are comparatively tolerant of virus diseases, but grow better without them, and others are killed by them. The easiest way to get virus-free stock is to raise the plants from seed and keep them sprayed. This works for most species but garden hybrids will not come true to form or colour. However, if ‘strains’ of lilies are bought rather than named varieties these will have been raised from seed, whereas the others will have been propagated from offsets, bulbils and by rooting scale leaves, and the risk of virus is greater with these.

Most lilies can be grown from seed, in fact L. formosanum and L. philippinense, white trumpet, cool greenhouse lilies, can be had in flower within a year of sowing the seed. However, many take three or four years and L. martagon takes six or seven to reach flowering size. L. regale flowers after two or three years.

In selecting lilies for gardens only species with similar cultural requirements to the garden hybrids have been chosen.

The garden hybrids are officially classified according to their breeding, but the shape and position of the flowers are more readily recognized in a garden and these are considered here.

Muscari (Lily family) (grape hyacinth)

M. armeniacum is the kind most frequently offered for sale. It makes little heads of honey-scented deep blue flowers on 6-8-in. Stems, with lots of narrow, grassy leaves. Varieties are ‘Heavenly Blue’, deep blue; `Cantab’, paler blue; and a white form, though the white commonly sold is M. botryoides alba. M. armeniacum makes fine sheets of colour in April-May under deciduous shrubs and small trees and also looks well as an edging plant, but soon spreads. It will also naturalize in short turf. M. botryoides makes a good rock garden plant as it is not so invasive; its heads of little bells are smaller and a paler blue.

M. comosum is not so often seen as its variety monstrosum, the feather or tassel hyacinth. This has curious heads of dark violet-blue threads on 12-15-in. Stems in May-June.

M. tubergenianum, the so-called ‘Oxford and Cambridge’ grape hyacinth, has pale and dark blue flowers on the same head. It is best grown on the rock garden where it will flower in March-April.

Plant M. armeniacum, M. botryoides and M. tubergenianum 3 in. deep and the others 4 in. deep in any good soil in a sunny position. They will all grow on limy soil. Split clumps as necessary after flowering.

Narcissus (Amaryllis family) (daffodil)

In gardens the narcissi are best divided into the large hybrids-for use naturalized in long grass, in beds for cutting and display, and in pots outdoors and in-and the small species and their hybrids-for use in short turf, on rock gardens, in pans in the alpine house or indoors. The official classification is based on flower colour and form, the relative length of the petal-like central ring or corona (which may be a trumpet, cup or eye) being of importance. The term daffodil is often restricted to the large trumpet forms, the others being called narcissi.

The bulbs of the small species are tiny; those of the garden hybrids are large and sold graded according to the number of ‘noses’ (growing points). Plant single-nosed bulbs with a bulb planter as there is no danger of them sticking half-way down the holes. The double and triple-nosed bulbs are fine for planting in borders or in pots where a close display of flowers is wanted in the first year.

Grass planted with daffodils must not be cut until the foliage has yellowed, nor should leaves be picked with flowers, for the foliage builds up the bulb with next year’s flowers. If the grass is treated with normal lawn fertilizers there is no need to feed the bulbs (other than with bonemeal at planting), but bulbs in short turf must not receive lawn fertilizers as this will encourage the growth of coarse grasses with which the small bulbs will be unable to compete.

Daffodils should be planted as soon as available, before hyacinths and tulips. Large bulbs require holes 6 in. deep and small ones 3-4 in. Bulbs in pots can be placed shoulder to shoulder with the noses just under or just above the surface. If intended for forcing they must be plunged in a cool moist place (with the exception of the variety Paper White) until the roots have developed well.

Nerine (Amaryllis family)

These are South African bulbs although N. sarniensis is known as the Guernsey lily: The hardiest is N. bowdenii, which is grown successfully out of doors under south-facing walls even in the north of England and Scotland. The lovely clear pink flowers appear from September to November, and there is quite a variation in flower shade and time of flowering. The leaves die off in late summer, leaving a short period in July-August in which the large bulbs can be moved. Plant them at least bin, deep; they will gradually work their way upwards until the neck is above ground level, when they must be well mulched in frosty places or put down lower again. They look well planted out in a bed in a cool greenhouse. Keep them well fed with bonemeal when they are planted and with liquid fertilizer during growth.

N. sarniensis is not so tall, so vigorous or so hardy and needs cool greenhouse treatment. There are several hybrids in lovely shades of scarlet, salmon and wine shades as well as pinks and whites. Plant them singly in 4-in. Pots with the neck of the bulb well out and never let the temperature fall below 45°F (7°C). Water the soil well only when growth Starts. After flowering continue feeding well until growth ceases. Dry them out and ripen them near the glass. Divide them only when it is essential, as they all flower best in crowded conditions.

Ornithogalurn (Lily family)

The native O. umbellatum, the Star of Bethlehem, makes a fine wild garden or thin woodland bulb. It does well in poor, sandy soil, and has flattish heads of greenish-white,star-shaped flowers on 6-8-in. Stems. O. thyrsiosdes is the chincherinchee, renowned for its longevity in water if picked in bud. It flowers in June-July, forming a long pointed head of white flowers. It is not quite hardy but can be treated like gladiolus (planted in March and lifted in October), or will grow permanently in warm but moist sheltered places, planted 6 in. deep, or in a cool greenhouse.

O. arabicum is also suitable for pots in a cool greenhouse. It has black-centred white flowers in heads like O. umbellatum. O. nutans produces r-ft. Stems of translucent greenish- white flowers in April and is a good shade plant.

Pancratiurn (Amaryllis family) (sea lily)

These are more or less tender plants with flowers borne on top of a long stem like amaryllis. They are usually white with green markings, with long spidery petals from a tube and are often beautifully fragrant. They are suitable for planting in JIP 2 in 5-in, pots in a cool greenhouse and can be stood outside during the summer in a sheltered place.

P. illyricum is sometimes grown outside in mild places, flowers in May or June and may have up to a dozen blooms which open in succession on 1 ½ ft. Stems.

The bulbs should be rested during the winter when the leaves die down, and kept cool but frost free and dry, but not bone dry, until the spring.

Puschkinia (Lily family)

P. scilloides (syn. P. libanotica) produces 4-6 in, stems of pale blue flowers with a greenish stripe in March. There is also a white form. It makes a fine carpet planted 3 in. deep in autumn under deciduous shrubs or on a rock garden, especially in heavy soil. It also makes a good pan plant in JIP 1.

Ranunculus (Ranunculus family)

The tubers of R. asiaticus (sometimes sold as R. grandiflora) should be planted in holes 2-3 in. deep, claws downward, in pots or in clumps in a sunny border or in a special bed for flowers for cutting. Soak them for 24 hours before planting.

Plant carefully any time from October inside to April outside. They need well-drained, rich soil (JIP 3 and sharp grit) and produce large double flowers on stems 12-15 in. high, in shades of yellow, orange, pink and red. The normal season is May to June, but in a greenhouse they can be forced gently. They are normally sold mixed, but there are several strains differing in size, doubleness and height of flower and known as peony-flowered, French, Persian and Turban.

For cutting special beds are made with coarse rubble placed under about 1 ft. of compost containing coarse grit and also well-rotted manure, banked up like an asparagus bed. This ensures the necessary quick drainage and high level of feeding. They must not be allowed to dry out until the leaves die down after flowering. During August the tubers should be lifted and stored, preferably hung in paper (not polythene) bags in a frost-proof airy place until needed.

Scilla (Lily family) (squills)

The most readily obtainable are S. bifolia, S. sibirica, S. tubergeniana and S. peruviana. The first three are spring flowering and S. bifelia and S. tubergeniana are worth planting in pans of quick-draining compost in a cold frame or alpine house for flowering in March and April respectively. S. sibirica does well in sunny borders or in short turf, and makes a good show indoors planted in JIP 1 or bulb fibre. On 6-8-in, stems it bears deep bright blue flowers; there is also a white form. The flowers of S. bifolia are turquoise blue or pink or white. S. tubergeniana is almost white, but has a deep blue stripe down the centre. S. Peruviana 8-10 in., has deep blue, lilac or white flowers massed in a 5-6 in. head, in May and June. It needs a warm border.

Sinningia (Gesneria family) (gloxinia)

These warm greenhouse plants have velvety leaves and brilliantly coloured purple, red, violet etc. flowers often with white throats to their trumpets, produced freely for many weeks. Tubers are planted, hollow side up, singly in JIP 2 in 5-in. Pots and covered with about 1 in. of soil, or they are pressed into boxes of moist peat and sand until they have produced both shoots and roots. This is useful for checking shoot damage in newly purchased tubers. These tubers will flower in summer and autumn the same year. The season can be extended by sowing seeds in June to flower early the following summer, or in January-February for later flowering the same year. Feed regularly. They need plenty of moisture throughout the year, but can be moved to slightly cooler conditions while actually in flower. Dry gradually and store at 50-55°F ( 10-13°C) in the pots.

Smithiantha (Gesneria family)

Once known as Gesneria or Naegelia, these require warm greenhouse treatment and are best grown from tubers planted singly in 5-in, pots in March in JIP 2 compost with extra grit or sand. The flowers are in lovely shades of yellow, orange, apricot and red, set off by deep green velvety leaves which damp off if heat and ventilation are inadequate. From March to August the temperature should be 60-70°F (16-21°C), and once the tubers have started growing well plentiful water must be applied to the soil, not the foliage. The plants reach 1 ½ -2 ft. and flower between July and November. During September and October the heat can be lowered slowly by about 10°F (6°C) and once flowering has finished they should be rested gradually and be stored in their pots, dry, at a temperature of 55°F (13°C) during the winter.

Particularly good plants are best increased by cuttings taken in early summer and rooted in a propagator.

Sparaxis (Iris family) (harlequin flower)

These often have two or more colours per bloom in a wide range, including, white with yellow eye, bronze red with darker eye or with yellow eye, and purplish pink shades. They are best planted in March in a warm border or grown in pots in a cool house, when they may be autumn planted. The flowers appear in April to late May according to treatment. Feed and ripen well, but when cleaning off the dead foliage do not pull it out in handfuls, but cut it short as the lower nodes will be found to contain small comets which if left are the means of rapid increase. Many of the more brilliant colours are the result of crossing sparaxis species with the closely related Streptanthera.

Sprekelia (Amaryllis family) (Jacobean lily)

S. formosissima is an interesting flower; very irregular in shape, looking like a 5-in. Wide deep red orchid. The flowers are usually produced singly, occasionally in pairs. Plants are often grown in pots in cool greenhouses or in a frame, when they may flower as early as May, but in well-drained, sunny, warm sites outdoors flower in June. The large bulbs should be covered with their own depth of soil outside. Feed well and ripen thoroughly. Pot or plant when the foliage dies down.

Sternbergia (Amaryllis family)

S. lutea, the lily of the field, produces bright golden-yellow crocus-like flowers about 2 ½ in. high from late August. If the weather is bad at flowering time protect with a pane of glass, which will also assist ripening in a wet autumn. The bulbs are best planted in sunny place in July and should have 4 in. of soil above them. In short turf they should be planted with a bulb planter, not by lifting the turves.

Tigridia (Iris family) (tiger flower)

T. pavonia, a half-hardy Mexican bulb-shaped corm produces unusually brilliant flowers with the inner petals and bowl of the flower generally spotted red and making a tiger-face. The three petals which spread out flat are scarlet, cherry red, orange, buff or white; corms are usually sold as a mixture. The flowers last one day only but there are up to six on each 15-18-in. Stem and they open in succession from June onwards. If treated like gladioli, planted 4-5 in. deep in late March or April and lifted before frosts, they usually flower in July. In warm sheltered places they can be left out if given a protective mulch. They need plenty of water and liquid feed during summer and then form good clumps.

Tritonia (Iris family)

Tritonias are South African corms, and one only, T. crocata is freely available. The flowers are usually very brilliantly coloured, orange, a pale coppery shade, yellow or white. They flower in late spring or early summer in a warm, frost-free border or in pots in a cool greenhouse. They make good, long-lasting cut flowers. In pots treat them as freesias, planting them 7-9 in a 5-in. Pot in JIP 3, and provide light support. After ripening keep them in the same size pot but replace some of the soil yearly in the autumn until the pot is full of corms.

Tulipa (Lily family) (tulip)

Tulips have been favourite spring bedding and pot plants in Europe since the mid-16th century. The flowers are in all colours except true blues, usually solitary, but also 3-4 per stem, the garden hybrids ranging in height from 4-34 in. Good bulbs can be guaranteed to give a fine, even display the first season, but except in warm situations on sandy loam rarely produce so many or such large blooms in later years, though feeding with bonemeal and proper ripening do help, and by this treatment the smaller species may become established on sunny ledges of the rock garden. The bulbs should be planted from 4-6 in. deep according to their size, but should not be put in before October for the April flowering kinds and November for the May flowering ones.

If used for spring bedding, either alone or coming through a shorter ground cover of forget-me-nots, wallflowers or pansies, the bulbs will have to be lifted and allowed to finish their growth in trenches in a sunny position, unless discarded. Tulips in less conspicuous places should be allowed to die down before being lifted and placed in trays in a sunny place (cold greenhouse, frame or window) to complete their ripening. Only the large bulbs should be planted for display the following year, but the small ones can be grown on to flowering size in a sunny frame. They take up to seven years to flower from seed.

Some varieties can be forced, but it is very important to grow the bulbs in a plunge bed until growth is well up (4-6 in.) and then to bring them gradually into light and moderate warmth. They do not respond well to high temperatures and must be forced slowly.

Vallota (Amaryllis family) (Scarborough lily)

V. speciosa is a South African bulb for the cool or intermediate greenhouse. Bulbs can be planted singly in A-in. Pots from May to July. Each year they should be moved into a larger pot without disturbing the clump. When they get grossly overcrowded and small bulbs are being squeezed up free from the mass it is time to divide and start afresh. Good soil should replace as much as possible of the old at each move and liquid feeding is essential to keep up the supply of flowering size bulbs.

The 3-in. trumpet-shaped flowers are rather like the smaller hippeastrums, but with more flowers in each head, on 1-1 ½ ft. Stems, and are normally a brilliant vermilion, though both pink and cherry-red forms are available. They flower in late summer.

Vallotas can be grown successfully in a sunny window in JIP 2 with added coarse sand. Water carefully during the winter and remove from frost danger at night.

Veltheimia (Lily family)

V. capensis (syn. V. viridifolia) flowers in early spring in a cool or intermediate house. The flowers form a red-hot poker type of spike but are straight sided, dull pink bells at the top of a speckled fleshy 15-18-in. Stem. They are the sort of unusual flower colour for off-beat flower arrangements, and last well in water. The bulbs are large and can be lifted dry when dormant in the summer. They should be planted in September in JIP 2 and be kept growing throughout the winter, which means good light and an adequate temperature. The dried up ends of the leaf bases which form the bulb should be kept clear of the soil and care should be taken to water the soil and not into the neck of the bulb.

Zephyranthes (Amaryllis family) (flowers of the western wind)

These are bulbs from warm regions in Central and South America, so only a few can be tried outdoors in the mildest parts, though they make good pot plants in a cool house.

Z. candida, with single white flowers like crocuses and rush-like foliage, is the hardiest and the most readily available. It flowers in September-October and makes a good edging plant. Also occasionally available are Z. citrina, a bright yellow with a greenish base, which is not quite so big; and Z. grandiflora, rosy pink and slightly larger in flower. Both are too tender for anything but a cool greenhouse.

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