Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - March 24, 2006

From: Carson, CA
Region: California
Topic: Propagation
Title: Comparative speeds of flowering from seeds or bulbs
Answered by: Dean Garrett

QUESTION:

Does a seed flower grow faster than a bulb flower?

ANSWER:

I think the answer to your question is "It depends."

If you mean, “Does a plant that doesn't produce bulbs take a shorter time to flower than a plant that produces bulbs?” the answer is, “Depends on the species and whether the bulb-producing plant was set in the ground as a seed or as a bulb.”

If you mean, “Does a bulb-producing plant produce flowers faster if started in the garden by seed or by bulb?” the answer is “by bulb.” However, even the bulb that was planted started as a seed at one time.

The stem tissue of some plants thickens below or at the soil level and becomes surrounded by fleshy, modified leaves that contain stored nutrients used to support growth. This short, thickened area is called a bulb. Bulb-producing plants are often sold by their bulbs for propagation, though they started from seed themselves at some point in the past. Setting out already-established bulbs of such plants produces blooms faster than starting the same plants from seed. For example, some of your California camas wildflowers (Camassia) will not bloom until at least the second year after planting if you start them from seed in the fall, because they first have to develop bulbs. However, if you set out already-developed bulbs of the same species at the same time, they'll bloom the following summer.

Some bulb-producing wildflowers, such as the rain lilies (Cooperia), grow relatively rapidly from seed and are usually seed-sown. Growth rates vary a lot among different species of plants and some non-bulb annuals are very fast-growing, but usually a bulb-producing plant started as a bulb at a favorable time of year will set flowers more rapidly than a non-bulb-producing plant started from seed at the same time.
 

More Propagation Questions

Propagation of Emory Oak acorns
May 08, 2005 - Dear Wildflower Experts, By any chance do you know how we could obtain some Emory Oak acorns to plant on our farm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland? I know itís not a given that the trees would grow...
view the full question and answer

Requirements to grow Lupinus albifrons
October 07, 2008 - What is required to grow Lupinus albifrons? Temp., soil mix, alkaline or acid, etc.?
view the full question and answer

Plants for elementary school grow lab in New York
March 14, 2007 - What can we grow in a grow lab in our elementary school library from seed now that will bloom by June or what interesting looking established plants can we put in this grow lab that will have meaning ...
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers after controlled burn in New Braunfels, TX
February 19, 2009 - I live in the Hill Country a few miles north of New Braunfels. As soon as we get enough rain to lift our burn ban, I will be thinning out some of my Ashe juniper and will do some burning in the open ...
view the full question and answer

Propagation bluebells by gathering seed
July 10, 2008 - Following up your suggestion on propagating Bluebells by seed..Is it possible that I can gather seed from the bluebells in my pasture? How does that work? Would I have to wait until the wildflowers a...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.