Get Up Close and Personal with the different types of bulbs

Is it a bulb, a corm or a tuber? Confused by the terminology? Spring Hill Nursery's gardening expert details the nature and functions of bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers and explains the differences between each of them.


So, here we have some bulbs. Here's some of your more popular bulbs - a tulip bulb, daffodil, lily. A bulb is formed from the plant's stem and leaves. The bottom of it is made of a small disc called the basal plate which is basically a compressed stem and these roots grow from the bottom of the basal plate. Then you have these layers of leaves, here's the older ones, up top here, okay? And these kind of resemble scales and they're filled with food and nutrients. This all sits on the basal plate and surrounds a single bud that will eventually become next year's flower. This is a corm. Looks exactly like a bulb, right? It's similar to a bulb in that it also comes from the stem of the plant. It's actually a solid tissue that doesn't have any separate scale like leaves. Instead, a dry, papery outer layer protects the insides. After the stem sprouts from the top of the corm, little buds pop up from the stem and these buds turn into flowers. A rhizome, like this iris, is an underground stem that grows horizontally and forms roots on the underside here, while leaves and new stems sprout from the top and buds form at intervals along the structure of each stem. Some of the most persistent plants come from rhizomes, such as ginger, bamboo and some fern varieties. Lastly, we've got tubers. The most well-known example of a tuber - a potato. Here, though, we have a dahlia tuber. A tuber is a storage organ formed from a stem or root. See the stem over here from last year? This organ develops eyes or bulbs all over its surface. Shoots grow upward from the buds and form plants. So, there you have it, we've covered all the differences between bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers. Make sure you also check out our video on how to plant flowering bulbs. Thanks for joining me, Scott from Spring Hill.