Flower Bulbs: Best Practice in Storage and Production
Flower bulbs are perennial or annual plants with underground structures such as bulb, corn, tuber, and rhizomes. These plants have economic value especially in ornamental plant sector as cut flower, potted flower, and outdoor plants.
Bulbs bring spectacular colour to gardens across the seasons, but especially in spring. From cheery daffodils to elegant tulips, blowsy gladioli to demure snowdrops, there are bulbs for all styles and growing conditions. A container of miniature bulbs will brighten up even the smallest space, while some dramatic dahlias or cannas will make a big splash in even the grandest of borders. With the big demand for all kinds of flowers nowadays, there is a growing need for commercial flower gardens. Flowers have been used as decoration throughout Europe and Asia for many centuries. What are bulbs and how do the best growers produce and store bulbs?
What are flower bulbs?
‘Bulb’ is a general term that covers four different types of underground food-storage organ:
• True bulbs – these are the traditional type of bulb, usually rounded and pointed at the top, with a flat base from which the roots grow. Examples include daffodils, snowdrops and lilies.
• Corms – these look similar to bulbs, usually with one or two buds on the top, and the roots grow from the base. Examples include crocuses and gladioli.
• Tubers – these are either swollen roots, such as dahlias, or swollen stem bases, such as cyclamen.
• Rhizomes – these are swollen stems that grow horizontally, on or just below the soil surface. Examples include bearded irises, lily-of-the-valley and cannas.
All of these ‘bulbs’ differ in appearance, but essentially have a similar function – to store food when the plant goes dormant, usually after flowering. Thus, good practices in producing and storing bulbs are essential for a healthy plant and great flowers.
Good Practice in Bulb Production
When plants bloom in the Spring the grower will usually remove the flowers – this will prevent disease and encourage growth. Other aspects which good bulb producers will pay attention to include:
• Correct nutrition and fertiliser;
• Removing diseased plants;
• Ensuring flowers are true to type.
Pest and Disease control
Responsible growers will be fully aware of the impact of pesticides on the environment and will only use products approved for use in their country, only when necessary and in accordance with the instructions on the label. Good growers will be aware of the specific diseases and insects which threaten their crop and put in place appropriate crop protection measures. Growers need to carefully monitor their crops for pests and disease issues throughout the growing season.
Good Practice in Storing Flower Bulbs
Proper storage and management of bulbs will ensure that they remain healthy and viable. Most bulbs can be stored for up to a year but tend to perform best when planted within six months of lifting.
Optimum post-harvest storage can help to:
1. Control (prevent, slow, or accelerate) the flowering process;
2. Assist in controlling certain diseases and insects;
3. Preventing specific physiological disorders.
For each specific species it is important that a grower understands:
1. Precisely when flower initiative occurs;
2. The length of time for floral development from initiation to anthesis;
3. The optimum temperatures to control the flowering process.
4. The sensitivity of the bulb species to ethylene;
5. The ventilation and moisture requirements of the bulb species.
What should be done before storing flower bulbs
It is important to trim off any wilted flowers as soon as they are finished flowering. By trimming off the flowers plant doesn’t use its energy to produce seedpods; instead, this energy goes into making the bulb itself stronger.
The Storage Environment
Storing bulbs in the correct environment is essential – this depends on the bulb type, but storage rooms can be kept in the range of 2 degrees C to 44 degrees C. Varying the temperature can be used to manipulate bulb growth to advance or retard flowering, to increase flower production or control disease. Too low a temperature – e.g. below -5 degrees C can lead to frost damage. When in transport shipping containers must be able to provide the correct temperature ventilation and moisture requirements for the bulbs. Ethylene is a plant growth regulator, and most bulb species are sensitive to levels of 0.1 ppm or higher – exposure can lead to floral abnormalities or lack of flowers altogether. For example, exposing tulips to ethylene can lead to uneven stunted growth, flower bud withering or complete flower bed necrosis.
It can be seen that in producing and shipping quality flower requires care and attention to detail. Morgan Agro’s bulbs and growers are carefully selected, stored, and transported to provide the best possible results for growers by giving their plants a good start. Please contact us to discuss your needs we have a wide range of bulbs and cut flowers available.
Are looking for any flower bulbs?
We can help to get from our partners – some of the biggest worldwide producers for a good price and deliver to any location. Contact us for a quote.