Autumn bulbs

Autumn bulbs

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Autumn bulbs

The autumn bulbs are not the flowers that we see blooming during the autumn months, but they are all those bulbous plants that bloom in Spring; they are called autumnal because in order to obtain healthy and flower-filled bulb plants it is advisable to place them at home now, so that by the end of winter they have already developed a good root system and stored enough nourishment to produce the flowers. The best time to plant bulbous plants goes from the middle of September to the first half of November; in fact, however, we can bury them even during winter, until January-February; the important thing is that the plants have been on the ground for about a week before a frost occurs outside, so they will already be fairly stabilized and will not suffer any frost damage. In regions with mild winters we can then plant bulbous plants in autumn or winter; the difference lies in the fact that the plants planted since autumn will have had time to expand their roots, to produce a splendid spring flowering; instead those that have recently been planted can sometimes produce small flowers, or even just the foliage.

How to proceed

Most of the spring-flowering bulb plants prefer fairly sunny positions, also considering the fact that many bloom in late winter, when the temperatures are still quite rigid. So we choose a bright, and possibly sunny, place; if we want to place them in pots on the terrace, we place the pots in a place where they are reached by sunlight for at least a few hours a day.
The soil is of fundamental importance for the bulbs, which need a soft substrate, in order to easily produce their shoots; therefore we work the soil well, mixing it with good quality universal soil and sand, which makes the clay soil less compact and promotes water drainage. Let us drain to the ground a slow release granular fertilizer, which will guarantee the presence of minerals in the soil until the end of flowering.
When the soil is very soft, place the bulbs on the ground, remembering to space them at least twice their diameter, and bury them at a depth equal to their diameter. If the soil is very compact and clayey we can leave them closer to the surface.
If we have chosen delicate bulbous plants, which do not tolerate frost at best, we place straw or dry leaves on the surface of the ground, which will repair them from the most intense frosts.

How to prepare bulbous flowerbeds

Among the spring-flowering bulbs we find plants, such as the crocuses, which bloom in late winter, others that instead begin to vegetate in the first warm spring weeks, others that produce their flowers in late spring; let us take these differences into account when planting bulbous plants, so as to obtain a flowerbed for weeks. The crocuses can also be planted by spreading them here and there in the garden; other bulbous plants, such as tulips, alliums, hyacinths and daffodils, give a better success in the formal flowerbeds, planted in rows or in spots. Anemones, ixies and others of small dimensions give better results if planted in spots, placing at least 10-20 bulbs next to each other.
In preparing the aiole we also remember to check the height of the plants, so we place in front of the crocuses, the chionodoxa or the lilies of the valley, which reach 10-15 cm in height; in an intermediate space we place tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, while in the background we place alliums and lilies, which produce high vegetation, which sometimes reaches 60-90 cm in height.


The beauty of bulbous plants lies in the fact that they give us beautiful blooms without requiring constant care; after planting our bulbs we water the soil, so we can forget about having bulbs until spring, when rainfall will do our job, moistening the substrate and awakening the underground buds. It may be necessary to water the bulbous plants again in the spring, in case of prolonged drought or in the case of bulbs kept in pots; remember, however, to wet the soil well and then let it dry completely before supplying more water, otherwise we will favor the development of rots that quickly ruin the bulbs. After flowering we let the foliage develop well, which helps to produce the nutrients that will be stored in the bulb for the following year's flowering; when the leaves begin to wither we can cut them completely. Later the plant is in vegetative rest, so we can stop watering and any fertilizations.
Every 2-3 years, in autumn, we can extract the bulbs from the ground, and remove any bulbils, which, if planted together with the others, will give us more flowers over time. If we have decided to grow bulbous plants in pots, after cutting the foliage, place the pots in a cool and dry place, and avoid watering them; every year we extract the bulbous plants from the soil, we change the soil and raise possible bulbous plants, since the overcrowding of the pots often prevents the correct development of the plants and the consequent flowering.

Bulbs, tubers, rhizomes

The term bulbous refers to all plants that have underground organs suitable for storing nourishment. These plants are more commonly called geophytes.
Bulbous plants are those geophytes that possess a particular organ, called precisely a bulb, consisting of a root system and some fleshy leaves, called cataphylls, gathered around a sleeping bud; even the onions or garlic are bulbs.
The tubers, on the other hand, are portions of enlarged underground stems, such as the potato or dhalie, often these large stems have a globular or cylindrical shape.
The rhizomes are also stems, but thinner than the tubers, and generally develop parallel to the ground, and have the ability to produce new plants along their development.
All these plants have always been referred to as bulbous; most bulbous plants have been grown in gardens for centuries, so we have bulbs with flowers of all shapes, colors and sizes.

Autumn bulbs: A short list

Autumn bulbous plants are therefore those that must be planted during the autumn months; most of these plants are well resistant to cold and bear even intense and long-lasting frosts; we mention some botanical names of autumn flowering bulbous plants:
Allium, Anemone, Cyclamen, Crocus, Eremurus, Freesia, Fritillaria, Galanthus, Hyacinthus, Helleborus, Iris, Leucojum, Lilium, Muscari, Narcissus, Ranunculus, Tulipa.
The original species of these plants come from Europe, Africa and Asia; all the bulbous that do not fear the cold are suitable for the soaking, therefore they don't need to be eradicated from the ground during the winter months.