By Dave Pipitone
When you look at any blooming flower, whether it is a tulip or a wildflower, you see the very last stage of its growth. Not all flowers start the same way, though. There is a difference between a tulip bulb and a seed that every gardener should know. To learn more, read the following information.
Let’s start with the basic definition of an ordinary flower bulb. There are many different definitions you can find on gardening websites. Here are two similar, but different definitions:
An underground leaf bud enwrapped in fleshy scales or coats.
An underground storage organ made up of fleshy scales wrapped around each other from which flowers and leaves are produced.
Let’s pull out the common elements. A tulip bulb is the bottom part of a tulip plant. When the bulb is planted in the soil and begins to come to life, roots and shoots break through the outer wall. Roots dig deeper into the soil to collect water and nutrients. Shoots grow upward and break through the surface of the soil and grow into the green plant that bears a tulip flower.
A bulb is a “storage organ.” It stores food in the “fleshy scales” around the “core” of the bulb. That core grows into next year’s plant.
According to Wikipedia, a seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food. The seed coat is a hard case that protects the tiny plant inside. Seeds grow inside a flower or fruit. A seed can be harvested, cleaned, dried and planted to grow new flowers and plants.
You can find tulip seeds within the seed pod in tulip flowers. The pod needs to be pollinated so that the seeds will grow. When the flower dies, you can extract seeds from the pod and plant them the following September. Just be aware that it can take several years before you see a flower on a tulip grown from a seed. Some gardening authorities state that it can take five-to-seven years before these tulips to produce blossoms. A tulip bulb is different from a seed because a bulb will produce a tulip plant and flower the very next year. Make sure to plant either one in the right soil with proper watering and care.
A seed can be as tiny as a poppy seed or as large as a peach pit. The biggest seed in the plant kingdom is from a coco de mer palm tree found in the Silhouette Islands in the Seychelles. That seed can weigh up to 17.6 kilograms or 38 pounds!
Tulip bulbs are very large compared to most flower seeds. A tulip bulb is measured by its circumference. A typical tulip bulb is 11-12 centimeters in circumference which translates to 1.5 inches in diameter. An average tulip bulb measures between 1.5 inches and 3 inches long.
Here’s one more, significant difference between a tulip bulb and a seed. Seeds often grow at the furthest end of a plant, tree or flower. Bulbs do not. A tulip bulbs multiplies by dividing into two bulbs that are attached to each other near the roots of the plant.
About the Author
Dave Pipitone loves spring time and the birth of new growth, especially tulip flowers.