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

Seed pods on Acer grandidentatum
June 23, 2007 - Hi, we have three young Big Tooth Maples that are doing very well in our pasture. We bought them already established and small. However, we would like to start some. Do they produce a seed?? What wo...
view the full question and answer

Propagating mimosa from seed
October 09, 2008 - I have a seed pod from a Mimosa tree. What is the best way to start this beautiful tree from seed. Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Time to mulch without inhibiting seeds in Hitchcock, TX
March 17, 2010 - When would be the best time of year to put down mulch, if I want my native plants to re-seed? I don't want to bury the seed under mulch layers or new dirt. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Speeding up growth of Hesperaloe parviflora (red yucca)
January 12, 2012 - I have germinated Hesperaloe parviflora, Red Yucca, for our Caddo Native plant sale. I have kept in the cool greenhouse for 2 months and they are about 2 inches. A friend put one outside and they froz...
view the full question and answer

Planting a meadow garden in Pennsylvania
November 16, 2014 - I live in Saxonburg PA near Pittsburgh PA. I want to put a meadow garden in my back yard. We are building a home so there is no established yard yet just trees and weeds. Where do I start . What...
view the full question and answer

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