We use ‘bulbous plants’ as a general term for plants with storage organs at or below the soil surface. These organs may be true bulbs, corms, tubers, tuberous roots, rhizomes, stolons or pseudobulbs; think garlic, potatoes, dahlias, tulips and daffodils. For this section of our website, we discuss bulbs used for their decorative flowers.
Bulbs such as daffodils, jonquils, freesias, ixias and babianas are commonly grown to give spring interest. Either planted in the grass below trees, within garden beds or in pots, their beautiful flowers herald the approach of spring. Bulb flowers far outshine their simple strap-like foliage.
What to grow
There are many beautiful bulbs, but Babiana, Sparaxis and Lachenalia aloides 'Pearsonii', as well as Narcissus ‘Malvern City’, ‘Carlton’ and ‘Erlicheer’, are some of the best for our Auckland conditions.
Visit our 'Plants for Auckland' database for the easiest bulbs to grow in Auckland.
How to plant
Free draining soil is essential. Add coarse sand to heavy soil. Plant most bulbs at a depth of twice their diameter. E.g. a bulb 2cm across should be planted 4cm deep. There are exceptions so check the label. When planting in gardens, it is a good idea to mark the planted area with something different like gravel, so you know where your bulbs are when they are dormant.
How to grow
Once flowering has finished, the flowers and then leaves should be allowed to naturally die down so that nutrients in the leaves return to the bulbs developing beneath the soil.
Bulbs can be lifted and divided every few years - click here for tips on how to do this.
Top image: Zephyranthes candida