wealth of spring-,summer- and fall-flowering bulbs canbe used to extend the gardenfloral display from earlyspring until late fall. Some ofthese will be winter hardyand remain in the groundyear-round. Others will notsurvive freezing temperaturesand must be replanted eachspring. Many are not eventrue bulbs, but are often soldalong side true bulbs in mailorder catalogs and at gardenstores. The different types ofunderground storage struc-tures that are frequentlycalled bulbs include corms,tubers, tuberous roots, tuber-ous stems and rhizomes.These underground storagestructures collectively arecalled “bulb-forms” or geo-phytes. Geophyte comes fromthe Greek word
— mean-ing earth, and the Greekword
— meaninggrowth or plant; therefore,geophyte means “earthgrowth” or “earth plant.”
The true bulbconsists of amuch-com-pressed, fleshystem, the basalplate. Attachedto the basal plateare thick, fleshy, modifiedleaves, the scales. The scalesare organized to form twodistinct types of bulbs. Lami-nate (tunicate)bulbs areconcentric,cylindricalscales. Theouter layers ofscales becomedry andpapery, forming the tunic.This protects the bulb fromdisease, insect and mechani-cal damage. Daffodil andonion are common tunicatebulbs. The scaly (non-tuni-cate) bulb has numerousindividual scales whichreadily break off the basalplate. This bulb has no tunic,making it somewhat moresusceptible to disease, insectand mechanical damage. Lilyis a common scaly bulb.
A corm isthe swollenbase of a stemwith typicalstem parts:nodes and internodes. Thedry, papery leaf bases en-close the swollen stem base,forming the protective tunic.The tunic, as with the bulbtunic, protects the corm fromdisease and water loss. Acorm does notpersist fromseason toseason. Rather,a new corm isformed abovethe old corm formed theprevious year. Gladiolus andcrocus are the two mostcommonly grown corms.
Tubers areproducedwhen the tipsof a stolon (ahorizontallygrowing stemjust at the soilline) becomesswollen from stored foods.Tubers are formed belowground. Close examination ofthe tuber will reveal typicalstem structures of nodes, the“eyes” of a potato and intern-odes. Besides the Irish po-tato, another commonlygrown tuber is caladium.The tuberous root and thetuberous stem are commonlymislabeled as tubers. Thetuberous rootforms from theswelling of roots.Tuberousroots donot haveany fea-tures