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© 1979, The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska on behalf of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension. All rights reserved.


Selecting, planting, caring for, harvesting and forcing spring flowering bulbs are discussed in this publication.

Spring flowering bulbs may be used to provide early season color in your garden while other plants are slowly developing. When the bulbs have finished blooming, the dying foliage can be hidden by the developing growth of other flowers and shrubs in the bed. Spring flowering bulbs offer an early start to a full season of color in your garden.

You can choose from hundreds of spring flowering bulbs that produce plants varying in flower color, form and height. Among the most popular are tulip, narcissus, grape hyacinth, hyacinth and crocus. Less known spring flowering bulbs include scilla, allium and Dutch iris.

In this publication, all corms, tubers and rhizomes will be referred to as bulbs. All "bulb" plants have a food storage organ that allows the plants to survive when dormant or when growing conditions are unsuitable. Bulbs are underground organs formed by fleshy scales attached to a basal plate (for example, tulip, narcissus, lily). Corms are underground swollen stems surrounded by dry, scale-like leaves (gladiolus, freesia, crocus). Tubers are swollen underground stems that are often irregularly shaped (potato, gloriosa, ranunculus). Rhizomes are horizontally creeping underground stems that produce aerial shoots from nodes (iris, convallaria).