Best True Bulb, Corm, and Rhizome Planting tips

by Peter B.


The best spring garden you will ever have starts this fall with true bulb, corm, and rhizome planting. Garden centers and bulb houses will start selling inventory in September but wait to plant. October through early December planting in Maryland will give you the best results. This also allows for summer annuals to finish their show.

Choose the largest, firmest bulbs and corms with their tunic (skin) still attached. Avoid bruised, soft or dry looking specimens. To temporarily store, remove bulbs from plastic bags and store in open boxes or paper bags in a cool dry place. Avoid storing bulbs with ripening fruit nearby.

To plant, measure bulb or corm height and plant roughly 2-3 times that deep. A 1” bulb would be planted 2-3 inches deep. Plant rhizomes (such as iris) on the surface covering only the bottom half.

A well-drained location will work best. Add sand, grit or perlite to your beds along with compost to insure good drainage. Add bone meal or Bulb tone to provide nutrients. Most bulbs will need a bright location. Try to plant in dry locations for better longevity- underneath hedges and near trees are naturally dry areas where bulbs thrive.

To discourage pests from finding your bulbs, dust with repellent. Cayenne pepper works well. Temporarily cover with screening till the ground freezes and remove before they emerge to stop digging.

Remember to leave spent foliage up until it flops and turns yellow in the late spring.