Which End is Up?

One of the most popular questions asked by beginners to bulb gardening is, “How do I know which end of the bulb to plant up?”  While the answer to this question can vary based on the type of bulb, generally speaking, the pointed end of the bulb should be planted up (such as with a tulip, daffodil, or hyacinth). Also, if a bulb is smaller than the size of a nickel, there really isn’t a top and bottom.

The good news is that bulbs are quite smart and they’ll figure out which direction to grow, regardless of how they are planted! If a bulb is planted upside down, it will simply take an extra day or two to reach the surface. If after deliberating over which end is the top and you still can’t tell, plant the bulb on its side. Once again, the bulb is smart enough to know which way to grow and will now only have to travel half the distance to the surface.

A few bulbs, especially some of those bulbs planted in spring, have a more definite answer to the question. For instance, begonia tubers have a concave and convex side. In this case, the “hollow” side of tuber should be planted down and the “rounded” side up. Other tuberous spring planted bulbs such as cannas and callas grow long and narrow. These should be planted horizontally 1″ or 2″ below the ground’s surface.

The smooth side of the Elephant Ear bulb is the top and should planted up.

The smooth side of the Elephant Ear bulb is the top and should planted up.

Perhaps one of the most confusing bulbs to know which direction to plant is the Elephant Ear. As those of you who have previously planted one know, an Elephant Ear bulb is very round and has no definite “points”. However, most of these bulbs will have a smooth side as well as a side that contains more bumps and maybe even a few root hairs from the previous growing season. The smooth side of the Elephant Ear is typically the top and should be planted up. Chances

The bumpy side of the Elephant Ear bulb is the bottom and should be planted down.

The bumpy side of the Elephant Ear bulb is the bottom and should be planted down.

are, the bumpy side with some possible hairs is slightly flatter than the smooth top side. This is the bottom. Like all bulbs, an Elephant Ear will know which way to grow regardless of how it is planted. When in doubt, plant it on its side! See pictures below for more clarification.

Spring is definitely here and gardeners everywhere are rejoicing! So get out in the garden and get to work! It’ll make you feel good ;)

Easter blessings,

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Have a question about which way to plant your bulbs or any other gardening topic? Ask Bridget! Email her at bridget@bulbblog.com! If she features your question in a future post, you’ll receive a coupon for your next order with Holland Bulb Farms!