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Under a general heading Ě BULBS Ě we usually include a number of plants which do not strictly fit into this category. A true bulb is made up of thickened leaf modifications, as in the Lily or Onion, but there are others with underground storage organs which need similar cultural conditions, and so find themselves in the bulb grower's catalogue.
Thus CORMS, although similar in appearance, differ from bulbs in that they are solid right through, being made up of modified stems instead of leaves. Gladioli and Crocus are typical examples.
TUBERS are also thickened underground stems but have eyes or buds situated at various places to produce new shoots. They are also very variable in shape and size as in Ranunculus, Anemone coronaria, Cyclamen and tuberous Begonias.
Bulbs grow easily in cool or temperate area gardens, in woodlands, borders, grass, window boxes or even indoors. They are relatively inexpensive, and offer a wide range of shapes, scents and colours.
The hardier bulbs planted in a woodland or wild garden become virtually no-trouble plants. They seem to thrive on neglect, forming broad colonies with seeming indifference to soil types and situations.
Nevertheless, starvation conditions must in time reduce the quantity and quality of bloom, for the bulb is a storehouse and at the end of the season contains an embryo plant together with a reserve of food for next year's growth. When we buy bulbs they already contain the bloom or blooms for next season's display, so it is
most important to purchase good bulbs from a reliable source.
When these have bloomed do not let them go to seed, but water the foliage well in a dry season and from time to time manure the ground. One cannot too strongly condemn the current practice of knotting Daffodil leaves or reducing bulb foliage before it dies down naturally. A dry spring together with premature leaf reduction, are the main causes of so called 'blindness' in bulbs. Sufficient food must be available to ensure flowering in successive seasons and to this end the leaves must be left to complete their work.
An occasional mulch of really well rotted manure or compost works wonders with an old bulb colony, or a good complete plant food can be applied in autumn, using 4 oz. per sq. yd. Water when in leaf with dilute liquid manure.