What is it about flower bulbs? To many, the name bulb conjures up images of netting bags at the local nursery or possibly onions, leaks and garlic, rather than magnificent flowers bursting into colour when they bloom.
This is a pity, as some of our most beautiful flowers are grown from bulbs, including tulips, daffodils and lilies. And the good news is, you can have these lovely flowers bringing amazing colour to your home.
A bulb is a fleshy, roundish, underground stem that is a resting stage of some plants. Designed as a storage mechanism for periods of low water such as drought or a cold winter, bulbs allow plants to survive these long dry months and then grow rapidly and burst into colour after their dormancy.
There are other plant structures that look like bulbs but aren't. These include rhyzomes (e.g. iris), tubers (like the potato) and corms (such as the crocus).
Forcing is when you artificially induce a bulb to bloom when you want it to, rather than when it would naturally. While most spring-blooming bulbs can be forced, check with the store where you buy them which ones are more suitable for forcing.
The good news is yes, you can! Some bulbs you need to chill, others you don't. I recommend that if you're in a hotter climate like Australia where if you try to force bulbs in summer you'll struggle to find a cool spot for them, you should rather pop them in the fridge.
When shopping for bulbs, buy bulbs that are firm, not shrivelled or damaged. If there are different sizes, choose the larger if it's in your price range. Larger bulbs are healthier.
Some of the more popular flower bulbs you can try are:
A spring bulb should be planted in autumn or winter. Which season depends on the specific bulb.