Bulbous plants are herbaceous perennials that have underground storage parts that can be dried and stored to be planted again at a suitable juncture. However, botanists categorise them as true bulbs, corms, rhizomes, tubers, and tuberous roots, any of which may be termed bulbs by gardeners.
A bulbous plant undergoes three phases during a year—growth, flowering, and dormancy. The bulbs store moisture and nutrients that help in surviving adverse conditions during a dormant state. When conditions become favorable, a new growth cycle commences and the bulbs help in sustaining it.
Summer bulbous plants can be planted in March and April. Commonly, several varieties of lily such as Football lily, Spider lily, Crinum lily, Calla lily, Amaryllis lily, Flame lily, Ginger lily, Day lily, and Rain lily are grown for their colorful, vibrant flowers. Rajnigandha, Lycoris, Kaempferia, and Caladium are also sown for their beautiful flowers or colorful foliage.
Soil and Planting:
Bulbous plants are grown in beds, grassy lands, and pots.
The primary prerequisite for growing bulbs is perfect drainage. If this is ensured then growing bulbs is not difficult. They prefer a light loamy soil as, in stiff clay, rooting is delayed and too much moisture often causes rotting. The soil composition normally used is:
- 1 part garden soil
- 1 part cow dung manure( well-rotted)
- 1 part coarse sand
- 150gms neem khal
- 50gms bonemeal
- Neem khal and bonemeal are used as top dressing.
The depth of planting bulbs is about 2-3 times the diameter of the bulb, usually 3-10 cm deep. The soil around the bulb is gently pressed to avoid air pockets. Shallow planting drives the shoot to rise to the surface level quickly. Too deep planting may delay the sprouting and the pressure of the soil on the bulb can break the sprout or turn it downwards.
Light watering is done immediately after planting the bulb. Over-watering proves harmful and can lead to rotting of the bulb. Watering should be done only when the top layer of soil is dry. For this reason, the plants should be protected from excessive rainfall.
Towards autumn, the leaves start withering and watering frequency is gradually reduced. Watering is completely stopped once the foliage has completely withered.
The pots should be kept in shade immediately after sowing. After 4-5 days they can be shifted to a sunny or a semi-shaded spot.
Bulbous plants do not need heavy feeding. Nevertheless, a liquid fertilizer given at frequent intervals improves the quality of flowers and foliage.
Storage of bulbs and propagation:
After growth and flowering, the plants enter a dormancy period, the duration of which varies with the type of plant and environmental conditions like temperature and humidity. After blooming is over, the leaves are kept intact to aid food production for the development of several new bulbs.
Lifting of bulbs is not necessary every year, as many do well in the ground or a pot during dormancy. If lifting of bulbs and their storage till the next season is desired, one should wait till the foliage dries out completely. The bulbs are then lifted gently from the soil and cleaned before storing. They may be dusted with fungicide powder to avoid any chances of rotting and stored in a dark, dry, and airy place.
Propagation can be done by the division of clumps or by offsets that are produced laterally.