Tubers, Corms, Rhizonmes, and Bulbs... What's the Difference?

Throughout the years, the term "bulb" has come to describe any type of root form that is planted in the ground to produce a plant. However, only a few of these plants are true "bulbs." There are four different types: Tubers, Corms, Rhizonmes, and Bulbs. We'll explain exactly what the true difference is between these four terms.

Tuber

dahlia tubers
Dahlia Tubers
begonia tubers close up
Begonia Tubers

Tubers are formed from a stem or root and shoots grow upwards from many different places on the tuber. Examples of tubers are Dahlias, Begonias, Anemones and Potatoes. 

Corm

saffron crocus corms in ground
Saffron Crocus Corms

Corms are characterized by a dry, flaky outer layer that protects its inner structure. After stems sprout from the corm, buds form on top of the stem. At the end of the growing season, a new corm typically grows on the base of the spent one. Examples of corms are Gladiolus and Crocus.

Rhizome

Rhizomes grow horizontally and form roots from its bottom while shooting out leaves on the top. Buds form at different parts along the structure, not necessarily at the top. Examples of rhizomes are Canna Lilies and Calla Lilies.

Bulb

tulip bulbs
Tulip Bulbs

A bulb is comprised of a plant's stem and leaves. The bottom of the bulb is a compacted stem and roots grow from this part of the bulb. Layers of nutrient-filled leaves sit at the bottom of the bulb and surround a bud that eventually becomes the flower. Examples of bulbs are Tulips, Lilies and Daffodils.

Whether it be a tuber, corm, rhizome or bulb, all of these plant structures are sure to produce an easy, spectacular show in the spring and summer months.

Happy Gardening!

Browse Flower Bulbs (and Corms, Rhizomes, and Tubers!)

  1. Cannova® Bronze Scarlet Canna Lily in container

    Cannova Bronze Scarlet Canna Lily makes its tropical mark in your garden earlier than most cannas. It blooms in late spring and continues through frost with abundant rich red blossom...

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    Cannova® Bronze Scarlet Canna Lily Cannova® Bronze Scarlet Canna Lily Canna x generalis
    As low as $22.98 Sale $11.49
    Per Plant - 3.5" Pot
    Cannova Bronze Scarlet Canna Lily makes its tropical mark in your garden earlier than most cannas. It blooms in late spring and continues through frost with abundant rich red blossoms held above plum-colored foliage. An easy-care heat tolerant plant. Cannova Bronze Scarlet Canna Lily is a moisture-lover for full to part sun and quickly creates stunning vertical accents in borders or containers. Hummingbird magnet. (Canna x generalis)
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  2. ‘Captain Rosette’ Calla Lily, Zantedeschia Captain Rosette, Pink Blooms,

    Captain Rosette Calla Lily brings florist-quality blooms to the garden in a lovely shade of pink. Dramatic vase-shaped flowers fade from light rose-pink to a cream-colored base. Long...

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    Captain Rosette® Calla Lily Captain Rosette® Calla Lily Zantedeschia Captain Rosette®
    As low as $12.98 Sale $9.74
    Per Bag of 1
    Captain Rosette Calla Lily brings florist-quality blooms to the garden in a lovely shade of pink. Dramatic vase-shaped flowers fade from light rose-pink to a cream-colored base. Long, thick stems support the flower above bold, spotted foliage that is deer resistant. A dwarf Calla Lily with full-sized blooms, Captain Rosette is excellent for containers and cut flower arrangements. (Zantedeschia)
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  3. Calla Lily Bulb Picasso

    A unique bicolor Calla Lily, 'Picasso' is truly a delight to check in with, as the creamy white flowers open up to reveal stunning violet centers. Beautiful in bouquets, be sure to i...

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    Picasso® Calla Lily Picasso® Calla Lily Zantedeschia Picasso®
    As low as $14.98 Sale $9.74
    Per Bag of 1
    A unique bicolor Calla Lily, 'Picasso' is truly a delight to check in with, as the creamy white flowers open up to reveal stunning violet centers. Beautiful in bouquets, be sure to include a piece of its charming, spotted foliage. Easy to grow and deer resistant. (Zantedeschia)
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  4. Calla Lily Bulb Odessa, Zantedeschia rehmannii violacea

    'Odessa' Calla Lily blooms in a rich, dark, almost-black purple, yet shines and glows in the summer sun. When you pair the blooms with its bold, speckled leaves, this variety has the...

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    Odessa Calla Lily Odessa Calla Lily Zantedeschia rehmannii violacea Odessa
    As low as $13.98 Sale $9.09
    Per Bag of 1
    'Odessa' Calla Lily blooms in a rich, dark, almost-black purple, yet shines and glows in the summer sun. When you pair the blooms with its bold, speckled leaves, this variety has the bones to be an eye-catching focal point in the landscape, though it's much more popular when cut for the vase. Grown as an annual in colder zones but hardy in zones 8-10. Deer resistant. (Zantedeschia)
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