Are bulbs perennial?

jaggudada(5A)April 19, 2011

Are the bulbs perennial? Which ones? Do they come for years? Most of the bulb planting instructions say to plant in spring, if you plant them in spring, will they flower in first summer/fall?

Also I have heard when planting bulbs it is better to plant in groups of 3-4 bulbs in one location.

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ken_mce(zone 4, NY)

>Are the bulbs perennial?

Depends what it is and where you are.

>Which ones?

Daffodills, Crocus, Snowdrops and Scilla are all pretty reliable.

>Do they come for years?

Some yes.

>Most of the bulb planting instructions say to plant in >spring, if you plant them in spring, will they flower in >first summer/fall?

What plants?

>Also I have heard when planting bulbs it is better to >plant in groups of 3-4 bulbs in one location.

Gives you a better display than just one plant.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 9:08PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

In nature all bulbs are perennial. That is what the bulb part is for - to perpetuate the plant by storing energy either through a cold winter or a hot summer.

However, in a garden situation bulbs can vary depending on the conditions. Some come back every year and some just peter out. We would need to know what bulbs you are thinking about to advise how specific ones would behave in your climate.

As for planting most bulbs in the Spring - that's a bit odd. There are lots of Summer flowering bulbs (and I'm including corms and tubers e.g. gladioli and dahlias) you plant in the Spring, but the best known bulbous plants e.g. daffodils, tulips, crocus, hyacinth, snow drops, scilla, muscari etc should be planted in the Autumn ..... unless you live in the Antipodes. The last time I checked NY State was not in Australia.

As Ken says - the idea of planting in clumps is aesthetic. They just look silly dotted about singly. In nature they grow in groups due to the way they increase and they look way better like that. Absolutely the worst way to plant bulbs (imho) is as singles in rows. Unless you are growing for cut flowers.

Plant as many of each type as you can affford.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 10:10AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Floras last sentence bears repeating. Many if not most bulb plantings are too skimpy. If you can't afford to plant enough bulbs for a decent display, it is better to reduce the area until it fits the number of bulbs you have. Al

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 9:11AM
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If you were to look up perennials in a garden guide there would not be any bulbs listed.
Usually bulbs are a class by themselves. They are not perennials, they are bulbs.
They are not annuals, they are bulbs.

Same thing if you were to look up the types of bulbs, you wont find perennials listed, nor annuals.

We can refer to them as both perennial and annual by how they survive or not survive the seasons but they are neither in these classes.

We can look at how a perennial returns year after year....and some of them do....some of them don't. Perennials have a time of life period and we are encouraged to divide and use other means to maintain their seeds. A bulb has no death notice posted on them. If they are cared for they can last far longer than any perennial.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 8:05PM
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The term 'perennial' does not apply to a specific type of plant but rather to a life cycle. Any plant that lives longer than two years in its natural environment is legitimately considered a perennial, so that would include bulbs, vines, trees and shrubs in addition to what are usually considered herbaceous perennials.

Because we as gardeners typically plant outside of a plant's natural environment, how reliably perennial a plant may be is influenced by location, climate and other growing conditions. That is why many plants that are fully perennial in nature behave more as annuals in our gardens -- simply because we as gardeners cannot successfully match their ideal growing conditions, most often associated with climate and hardiness. But that does not alter the perennial nature of their life cycle.

Bulbs are indeed considered perennials because they live longer than two years -- or should if the proper conditions were present.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 10:09AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

The OP was asking if they'd live from year to year in the garden not how they are classed in catalogs or books.....

So, yes, they are perennials in most cases.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 1:18PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

GG is doing the spadework on this one - thank you. I gave up bothering. But here we go one last time. The question was: "Are the bulbs perennial". Perennial is an adjective with a precise botanical definition. It means growing for more than 2 years. So the answer is 'Yes, bulbs are perennial.' So are oak trees, runner beans and lavender bushes. They may not be 'perennials'(noun) in the vernacular sense of herbaceous plants which die down to a root or basal rosette in winter and return in spring. But that was not the OP's question.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 4:21PM
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Suggesting whether a question put to the readers is 'silly' or not, then is up to the reader. Whether one 'pursues' a question in an ongoing manner is irrelevant if the question is worhty of an ongoing discussion.
If a person who contributes ideas on the subject is going to be taken over the coals by someone who, it might seem, is rather being adolescent in wanting his/her ideas to be the only one.
There's always two sides.....and it just makes good transfer of thoughts on any subject to expose them.

If any reader doesn't like what another person contributes to any discussion, then I offer that person to leave this forum and find some other venue to pollute his/her "I'm right, you're wrong" attitude.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 12:01PM
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There's always two sides

Not necessarily. A plant's life cycle is what it is. The term "perennial" describes a particular life cycle, not a classification assigned to types of plants based on any other criteria. Contributing any differing 'ideas' on the subject are rather pointless, as it is really not a matter that that is up for any discussion.

The lifespan of plants are described in three specific ways: those that complete their life cycle (germinate from seed, flower, set seed, then die) in one year as annuals; those that take two years to complete their life cycle as biennials and those whose life cycle exceeds two years as perennials.

The explanation of the terminology is quite clearly outlined in the attached article from Wikipedia......for those that wish to dispute this very well-established and recognized definition, you might want to note that the article includes trees, shrubs, bulbs and tubers as perennials, together with the more commonly considered herbaceous perennials, as they ALL demonstrate an extended life cycle.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wikipedia - perennial plant

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 9:50AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

gardengal48 you are saving me a lot of typing.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 5:43PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

We were blessed with five children, one of which could argue about anything. He could find another side to the simplest statement, we thought sure he would turnout to be a lawyer. He went into business instead and was able to retire before we were. He taught us all to be tolerant. Al

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 9:25PM
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