Bulbs are embryo plants packed with their own food supply, and go on from year to year, producing offsets (baby bulbs) round them in time.
A corm looks very like a bulb but lasts only one season, during which it makes a replacement corm for the next year. Crocuses and anemones, come from corms.
A tuber is a swollen root used for food storage – dahlias come from tubers.
Bulbs can be ‘naturalised’ very successfully by being planted in a corner of the lawn or under trees.
Bluebells, small daffodils and snowdrops look very effective grown this way. But always plant all bulbs in clumps, not spaced out.
Snowdrops, crocuses and winter aconites give welcome colour right at the start of the year.
If you are planning to move or divide snowdrops this must be done as soon as they have finished flowering.
Nurseries call all daffodils ‘narcissi’, lumping together the yellow trumpeted bulbs with the white flat flowers commonly none as narcissus.
Never move or lift daffodil bulbs until all the leaves have died down after flowering, as they are busy putting food back into the bulb for next year while they are still green.
Do not tie up the daffodil leaves after flowering. To do their work properly they must be left exposed to the sunlight.
Tulips tend to be at their best in their first year, after which they start to decline.
To save tulips, lift the bulbs when the leaves have turned yellow and store them in a shed for planting the following November.
The offsets found at the bottoms of tulips and around other bulbs can be carefully detached and saved and planted to grow on into full sized bulbs. Put them in an odd corner for the first year at least, for they will not flower while still so young.