Bulbs are underground plant stems that provide food for a shoot. Some bulbs produce flowers year after year. Gardening experts say tulips, daffodils and other bulbs are not very difficult to grow.Bulbs do well in climates with a cold season. They are placed in the ground about the time of the first frost. But, with the right preparation, they can also grow well in places where the ground never freezes. Mike Lizotte of American Meadows, an online store, says before you start, you need know whether to plant tender bulbs or hardy bulbs. If you live in a cold area, a tender bulb will need special care when the growing season is over. "If you want that bulb to survive or come back, you would need to literally dig it out of the ground and bring it inside to a warm area." But Mike Lizotte says a hardy bulb like a daffodil or tulip prefers cold temperatures so it can be left in the ground.Sandra Mason from the University of Illinois Extension service has some suggestions to get a good start on planting bulbs. The most important thing is to choose a place with soil that drains well. "For certain areas, if you have a lot of clay in your soil, you may find that bulbs do not last a long time for you, as in just a couple years. Or you may find they just do not do very well at all, and they actually rot in the soil." Sandra Mason suggests planting most big bulbs like tulips or daffodils about fifteen to twenty centimeters deep. Smaller bulbs can be planted about seven to ten centimeters deep. She says she enjoys planting smaller ones like snowdrop bulbs because you do not need to dig a very deep hole.Bulbs should be planted with their pointed end up, toward the surface. But some bulbs do not seem to have a pointy end. In that case, Ms. Mason says, look for an "eye" that might have a stem, but don't worry if you cannot find one. Bulbs will need water right after planting unless it has been raining regularly. And they will continue to need water as they grow. Do not use fertilizer for the first year. After that, if you do fertilize the bulbs, do not mix the fertilizer in the planting hole. It could burn the roots. There is a trick people can use to grow bulbs in places where the ground never freezes. Keep the bulbs cold in a refrigerator for about three months, then take them out and let them get used to the warmth. Now the bulbs will be ready to develop normally, colorful blooms and all.
For VOA Special English, I'm Alex Villarreal.