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. Pink Surprise Lily (Lycoris), Lycoris squamigera Pink with Canna Lilies

    Pink Surprise Lily is as fun as it is lovely. Smooth grey-green foliage arrives in spring and dies back by summer. Then, later in the summer, almost as if by magic, slender stems ari...

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    Pink Surprise Lily (Lycoris) Pink Surprise Lily Lycoris squamigera Pink
    $22.98 Sale $11.49
    Per Bag of 1
    Pink Surprise Lily is as fun as it is lovely. Smooth grey-green foliage arrives in spring and dies back by summer. Then, later in the summer, almost as if by magic, slender stems arise bearing clusters of fragrant, delicate, star-shaped flowers. Once established, this hardy plant will return for many years to delight and surprise. (Lycoris squamigera)
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  2. Single Yellow Freesia, Freesia Single Yellow

    Single Yellow Freesia illuminates the summer garden with sprays of fragrant, long-lasting flowers on lovely arching stems. This charming flower is at home in the garden and in a bouq...

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    Single Yellow Freesia Single Yellow Freesia Freesia Single Yellow
    $13.98 Sale $6.99
    Per Bag of 25
    Single Yellow Freesia illuminates the summer garden with sprays of fragrant, long-lasting flowers on lovely arching stems. This charming flower is at home in the garden and in a bouquet. Find the right spot for them and they will reward you with fragrant, beautiful flowers for weeks on end. Rabbit and deer resistant.
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  3. Double Pink Freesia, Freesia Double Pink

    Double Pink Freesia adds a hot pink accent to your garden design with double flowers of pure pink on slender stems. These long-lasting flowers are one of the world's most popular cut...

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    Double Pink Freesia Double Pink Freesia Freesia Double Pink
    $13.98 Sale $6.99
    Per Bag of 25
    Double Pink Freesia adds a hot pink accent to your garden design with double flowers of pure pink on slender stems. These long-lasting flowers are one of the world's most popular cut flowers. Grow your own, and these sweetly scented flowers will be your favorites too! Rabbit and deer-resistant, this cheerful flower is a lovely addition to the garden.
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  4. Pink and White Lady Jane Candlestick Tulip, Tulipa clusiana Lady Jane

    'Lady Jane' Candlestick Tulip emerges mid spring, tightly rolled and lipstick pink. Blooms open with the sun, spreading their petals into bright white stars. They close at night and ...

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    Lady Jane Candlestick Tulip Lady Jane Candlestick Tulip Tulipa clusiana Lady Jane
    $13.98 Sale $6.99
    Per Bag of 10
    'Lady Jane' Candlestick Tulip emerges mid spring, tightly rolled and lipstick pink. Blooms open with the sun, spreading their petals into bright white stars. They close at night and on cloudy days, showing off pink banded exteriors. A petite and long-lived perennial tulip that returns year after year. (Tulipa clusiana)
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