Planting bulbs – Dahlias, Gladioli, Lilies, Caladium
Right side up, upside down–which way do they go? Does it really matter? When planting bulbs in anticipation of beautiful spring blooms, it helps to know the ins and outs (or rather, ups and downs).
Experienced gardeners take a lot for granted that beginners don’t. For example, when it comes to planting bulbs you may wonder which end goes up. This really isn’t an issue to feel silly for wondering about. A lot of beginning gardeners are in the same boat. So for those of you who have been afraid to ask–lest you be made sport of by know-it-alls–here’s how to plant dahlias, gladioli, lilies, and caladiums.
Planting Dahlia bulbs
Dahlias prefer rich, porous soil. Loosen the soil to a depth of 12 inches, and work in a generous amount of compost, rotted leaves, or other organic matter. Then dig a hole about 4 inches deep, and set the dahlia clump into it so the cut stem is at the top and even with the soil surface. The potato-shaped tubers attached to the stem should be pointing downward.
Planting Gladiolus bulbs
Gladioli also like well-drained, fertile soil, but are not quite so fussy as dahlias. Plant the bulb-like corm 4 to 6 inches deep. Position the scooped-out end with the brown eye of fine feeder roots pointing down. The rounded end with the green shoot poking out goes up.
Planting Lily bulbs
Lilies don’t ask for perfect drainage; they demand it. Dig a hole at least 12 inches deep, and then fill the bottom with 4 or 5 inches of coarse sand. Place the lily bulb into the hole so that the whip-like roots are down and the pointed end with the shoot emerging is up. Then fill the hole with rich earth.
Planting Caladium bulbs
Caladium tubers are actually lifeless-looking lumps that resemble Cousin Itt of The Addams Family more than bulbs. It’s hard to tell up from down. What you have to do is gently untangle the feeder roots and determine the end to which they’re attached. Place the end that they are attached to pointing down. If you are lucky, you’ll see small buds emerging from one of the knobs. That end goes up. Plant the caladium tubers 2 inches deep in well-drained soil.