Planting bulbs right side up?

wickyMay 26, 2005

I am VERY new to gardening. We bought our first home in mid-July last year, and have spent a lot of this spring digging up new gardens, and getting rid of many weeds.

Yesterday afternoon I started planting things in a newly dug garden in the back. I planted about 30 gladiola bulbs. Here's a silly question, do the bulbs have a "right side up" way in which to plant them?

I kind of just dug the hole and threw a bulb in. I never even thought that they might have a "right side up". Do I need to go back this afternoon and dig them up and replant them again?

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I am new to gardening to, but I looked up instructions on how to grow gladiolas and I wa successful. Here is what I did: I dug up the ground where I was to plant the bulbs. I put a 3" layer of top soil followed by a 2" layer of peat moss. I buried the bulbs in the soil with the pointed end facing upwards and covered the entre bulb except for the end that pointed out. (this is where the shoot will come out from) Then I surrounded the bulbs with mulch. Within 5 days I had shoots coming up.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 11:33AM
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Some bulbs are easy to tell up from down simply look for the roots came out of ;o) Go grab an onion. Note that the top is a plain smooth tip while where the roots were its rough and you may be able to see lots of little nubs. Those nubs are the spots where the roots once emerged from the bulb.
Other bulbs are not so easy ... like Galds. For those bulbs a LSU Ag friend ( a professor none the less ;o) said it best .... plant them sideways! That way the growing plant will go in the proper direction all on its own. So for the glads, which are some what flat bulbs, stick 'em in the ground on their sides and they will be fine :o)

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 12:44PM
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Funny and *SURPRISING* proposal, but I completely agree. This method will be necessarily successfull, too.
I even consider that the shoots will find their way around the tuber and come to light when the "right" side is "under". But I can not recommend that. And yes the "right" side is that one with the "point" or the "tip" in its center.

On the other hand I recommend a DEEPER planting of these tubers. 10 cm are good, and when documented instructions allow more, do not hesitate.
The leaved stalks will get rather heavy at their top when loaded with blooms and might topple in the wind...


    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 2:53PM
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Thanks guys, who knew you actually had to know what you're doing when planting bulbs. This whole right side up theory may explain why only 1/3 of my daffodil and tulip bulbs came up this spring. I thought they were old LOL.

Thanks for the help!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 4:37PM
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sandwhy(z5, Evanston IL)

Mike and Hans-Werner are right - Bulbs don't really care which way you plant them! Gravitropism (meaning the roots will figure out which way is down) and phototropism (response to light) will take care of it all. And here's a fun trick: Plant 1/3 of your bulbs right side up, 1/3 sideways, and 1/3 upside-down. You have instantly lengthened your bloom time three-fold, as by the time the upside-down bulbs have figured out "which way is up", the right side up bulbs will be starting to bloom! :)

Good luck,


    Bookmark   September 21, 2005 at 11:19AM
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ljrmiller(z7 NV)

some bulbs, specifically dryland Fritillarias, are BEST planted "on their sides". It's not terribly easy to tell top from bottom, except that the top frequently has a hollow. Otherwise they look sort of like a peeled onion with the top cut or pulled off--but not really because the layers are thicker. Well, anyways--put the bulb in the ground so that what looks like may have been roots and what may be the bowl at the top are facing "sideways" instead of top and bottom. In wetter climates than mine it's important because moisture collects in that bowl and rots the bulb out.

With daffodils and tulips, it's easy. Put the pointy end up. With lilies, same thing--pointier end up. Gladiolus and Crocus are a little more difficult--I look for the "cowlick" of fibers--that's the top. The sort of pocked part at the opposite end was roots, so it goes down. Muscari, Scilla, most Alliums and Galanthus are more subtle, but there's still a pointier end and a rounder end in most cases.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2005 at 12:49PM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

wicky, I am wondering, though, isn't it rather late in your area to plant Glads, is it? Don't you get frost pretty soon?

Even in my warmer zone, Glads rarely survive the winter unless planted very deeply and mulched heavily, and even that is iffy at best.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2005 at 2:23PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Pit, I had the same thought, but the original post was back in May, so hopefully the gladiola have bloomed and Wicky will be wondering when to winterize the glads.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2005 at 11:37PM
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The only bulbs I have ever actually been confused about, are anemones, and I've heard to plant them on their sides because sometimes even the experts don't know. They are small enough anyway, and most bulbs, like Sandy said, gravitropism and phototropism take care of the issue anyway.


    Bookmark   September 22, 2005 at 4:29PM
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perrydel(z5b OH)

I have some hardy cyclamen bulbs, they are large 3-4" in dimeter aand I can't determine right side up. There seems to be the remains of a stem on one side, but then again it could be a root. Does anyone know how to determine right side up or should I plant them on the side ?
Perry in Ohio

    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 9:26PM
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