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What is the Difference Between Plants That Grow from Bulbs and Plants That Grow from Seeds?

A Kaminsky
A Kaminsky

Everyone loves a flower garden and most people would like to have one filled with color and fragrance. Many plants are available for using in a garden, and most of these come from either bulbs or seeds.

Most plants that come from seeds are either annuals or biennials. Annuals grow directly from seeds and grow, bloom and die in the course of one season. They also produce their own seeds. Many lovely flowers fall into this category, including most wildflowers, zinnias, marigolds, asters, daisies and petunias.

Cantaloupes grow from seeds, and are edible.
Cantaloupes grow from seeds, and are edible.

One nice option for using flowers from seeds is buying a roll of turf with the seeds already pre-planted. All a gardener needs to do is to unroll the turf in a suitable location and water it. These rolls are available at most garden centers. Biennials last for two years without replanting.

Other plants with seeds are edible, such as tomatoes, squash, cucumber, celery, berries, watermelon and cantaloupe. Packets of seeds for these vegetables can be found in the spring in grocery stores, home centers or from seed catalogs. Flower seeds are available as well.

Garlic grows from bulbs.
Garlic grows from bulbs.

Plants from bulbs are a whole other proposition. Probably the most famous plants growing from bulbs are tulips. However, daffodils, hyacinth, gladiolus and even garlic also spring from bulbs. Gardeners plant bulbs in the fall of the year and they remain dormant in the soil until spring. When the weather warms up, the bulbs send up green leaves, and eventually flower. The flowers remain for a couple of weeks or so, then they die back, and the leaves follow. These plants then lie dormant until the next spring, when they bloom again.

Most plants that grow from seed are either annuals or biennials.
Most plants that grow from seed are either annuals or biennials.

The main advantage with plant bulbs is that they can be moved to different places in the garden, depending on the gardener’s preferences. All the gardener has to do is to dig the bulbs up in the fall and replant them in the desired location. Plant bulbs are also available anywhere seeds and other plants are sold.

Planting bulbs and seeds is a wonderful family activity. Children can see the more or less immediate results of their labors with seeds in a pot, and can appreciate the virtues of patience when planting bulbs in autumn. This is a great experience for them to see where plants come from and how they grow.

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Discussion Comments


@seHiro: Ooh, a bulb that blooms in the winter? That's awesome. Bulbs sound like they've got a lot of advantages, and I'll probably look into amaryllis bulbs for my garden, but really my favorite plants are mostly veggies, so you could say I'm a loyal seed gardener. Whatever fits for your gardening style, right?


@aishia: Hi there! I agree on both of your points; bulbs can get eaten, and moisture can make them rot. If you watch for pests in the garden, though, and are careful not to plant bulbs in places where water could gather too much, bulbs are still just great. Daffodils and tulips are some of my favorites for spring, but my all-time favorite bulb is the amaryllis -- it blooms during the winter, and it's gorgeous!


@seHiro: Good post -- you're right, bulbs are really handy for the lazy gardener (like me!) A word of caution to anybody else out there who plans to plant things once and have an instant garden next year with zero effort: moles, insects and other critters can and will eat bulbs, so if nothing grows in the next year, that might be what happened! Also, too much moisture can make bulbs rot in the ground, killing the plants. In those regards, seed plants have the advantages.


Another important thing to note about bulbs is that they come back year after year -- which is great if you're planting flowers in your yard on a budget and you don't mind seeing the same kinds of flowers year after year. In fact, if you don't like gardening at all, bulbs are handy -- you plant them once and your garden just grows in by itself every year after that for a long time! Different bulbs have different lifespans, though -- read up on how long they'll last if you want to plant them for a no-hassle garden.

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    • Cantaloupes grow from seeds, and are edible.
      By: Elena Schweitzer
      Cantaloupes grow from seeds, and are edible.
    • Garlic grows from bulbs.
      By: Schlierner
      Garlic grows from bulbs.
    • Most plants that grow from seed are either annuals or biennials.
      By: brozova
      Most plants that grow from seed are either annuals or biennials.
    • Daisies are annuals grown from seed.
      By: Friedberg
      Daisies are annuals grown from seed.
    • The seeds inside squashes are edible.
      By: zigzagmtart
      The seeds inside squashes are edible.
    • Plants with seeds are edible, like watermelon.
      By: bokan
      Plants with seeds are edible, like watermelon.