It happens every spring. The tender bulbs (gladiolus, tuberous begonia, canna, dahlia, etc.) you brought indoors the previous fall start to sprout, you get ready to plant them, but… which one was the short double red one? And which the tall single lavender?

The truth is that it may be easy enough to tell a gladiolus corm from a canna rhizome, but all gladiolus corms look pretty much alike. And who can tell one dahlia root from any other? That’s why it is so important to label your bulbs as you dig them up this fall.

You can use the label that came with the plant or one you prepared yourself (remember to use a waterproof, UV-resistant marker and a label that will last a few years). If you don’t remember the cultivar name, at least note the color, the height and the type of of the plant. If labels aren’t your thing, at least write the name on the box or bag in which you will be storing them.

You can even write the name or description directly on the bulb with a marker (this works especially well with the tuberous roots of dahlias).

Whatever you do, don’t trust your memory alone! It may seem obvious today that you put the red ones on the right and the lavender ones on the left, but you’ll have forgotten that come spring.

Identifying your tender bulbs is simple enough to do, but oh so easily forgotten, since this is the right time of the year to them indoors, take this as a reminder!

Garden writer and blogger, author of more than 60 gardening books, the laidback gardener, Larry Hodgson, lives and gardens in Quebec City, Canada. The Laidback Gardener blog offers more than 2,500 articles to passionate home gardeners, always with the goal of demystifying gardening and making it easier for even novice gardeners. If you have a gardening question, enter it in Search: the answer is probably already there!

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