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Bulbs: what they are and examples

Any fan of gardening or horticulture will have heard the word “bulb” mentioned hundreds of times when referring to some types of plants, both ornamental and consumer, and is that bulbs are very present in our daily lives in a great diversity of shapes.

If you want to learn more about bulb plants, join us in this AgroCorrn article, where we will see what bulbs are, their characteristics and examples of plants that have them. Surely many of them you already know!

What are bulbs and their characteristics

The first thing we should know about bulbs is that they are organs specialized in the storage of nutrients and reserve substances that the plant uses for its growth and development, especially when conditions are not favorable.

The bulbs can thicken and increase in size, thus accumulating a greater amount of nutrients when the climate allows it, to use them when it becomes hostile. This is why plants with bulbs are very common in areas where the climate has great variability, so that the plant can let its aerial part die while surviving thanks to the underground bulb, from which it later sprouts.

The bulb is located underground and acts as the base of the leaves. In addition, plants that reproduce by bulbs can develop lateral buds, which over time will develop into new bulbs and, therefore, new individuals. One of the advantages of bulb reproduction is that the young plant remains underground until it is ready to grow, protected. Of course, reproduction by bulbs is a form of asexual propagation or reproduction , since it is always genetically identical copies of the same plant.

We can also differentiate two main types of bulbs :

  • The tunicate bulbs , in that the base is formed by superposed layers on each other, as with onion, one of the most known edible bulbs .
  • The imbricated bulbs , in which the bases follow an arrangement similar to that of the tiles on a roof, fitting together. An example of the latter are lily flower bulbs.

Parts of the bulbs

These are the main parts of a bulb :

  • Basal disc: it is a circular area, hence its name. It is always found at the base of the bulb, and from it the roots arise, which the plant uses to absorb water and nutrients.
  • Cataphylls, layers or scales: this is the base of the leaves that thickens and makes up the main part of the volume of the bulb. It is normally oval or spherical in shape, and is responsible for the storage of nutrients and reserve substances. In reality, it is just the thickening of different layers or scales of leaves, depending on the type of bulb.
  • Tunic: it is an outer protective layer, which surrounds the bulb to protect it from dehydration.
  • Stems and buds: just like the roots , they start from the basal disk and will give rise, in the case of the buds to new leaves, and in the case of the shoots to new bulbs.

Plants with bulbs, apart from these parts where they accumulate water and nutrients, have roots , stems , leaves and flowers . Here you can consult more about the Parts of a plant and their functions .

Examples of plants with bulbs

These are some of the best known bulbous plants :


You can’t talk about bulbs without mentioning the onion, one of the most popular vegetables. A peculiarity of onions is that we cannot consider them in general spring bulbs, summer bulbs, autumn bulbs or winter bulbs, since the optimal planting season of each variety changes considerably depending on whether it is late or late onions. early onions. Here you can discover the different types of onion .


As well as other species related to onion, garlic is also one of the best known bulbs, especially in a culinary way. It is a bulb native to Central Asia, which currently has more than 600 varieties and is of recognized nutritional and medicinal properties. In this other post we tell you how to plant garlic .


Saffron bulbs are one of the most appreciated plants everywhere, both for their flowers with striking purple petals, and for the essence that is extracted from their stigmas. Saffron is commonly called red gold, due to the high price of the spice, although it takes half a million flowers just to get 1 kg of it!


Another of the most recognizable examples of bulbs is that of tulips. Tulip bulbs became enormously popular since the early sixteenth century, when its cultivation spread in northern European countries such as the Netherlands, where in fact it is currently a national symbol. These are perennial flower bulbs of the lily family, which have more than 100 species with all kinds of characteristics, colors and patterns in their flowers.

If you like these beautiful flowers as much as we do, don’t miss the tulip gardening guides that we offer you from AgroCorrn:


Lilies are another well-known bulbous flower, which in some cases can reach heights of almost a meter. The lily bulbs are evergreen, with large flowers, very decorative and also tend to offer a pleasant perfume. Here you can know the different types of lilies .

Maria Anderson

Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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