Planting Summer Bulbs


Most of us think of planting bulbs in fall for a spectacular spring show, but there is a whole group of bulbs and bulb-like plants that can go in the ground in May and early June for a beautiful summer display. The “big three” are:


Dahlias: Tuber-type that produces large flowers on a small, bush-shaped plant. Burgundy, white, yellow red, and multi-colored. Blooms throughout the summer. Great for cutting and in flower beds. The big ones may benefit from a flower ring. The bulbs can be stored over winter and used for years to come.


Gladiolas: A corm-type bulb with a spiky plant part and a line of elegant blooms running up the side. Colors are: white, yellow, red, orange, purple, chartreuse and multi-color, and they bloom all at one time. Sometimes batches are planted two weeks apart to extend bloom time. Great for cutting. The corm can be stored over winter and used for years to come. In fact, you may be supplying the whole neighborhood in a few years!


Cannas: Big, tropical-looking plant with large unfurled leaves. Large spikes of yellow, orange or red flowers. Some have a red tinge to the leaf. Great in annual beds, planters, or even mixed in with perennials. They come in really big sizes; 6-8′ tall and some shorter. The bulbs can be stored over winter and used from year-to-year.

As a group, the summer bulbs are easy to grow and quite rewarding…and this is only the start! Caladium, Peruvian Daffodils, Abyssinian gladiolus, Tuberose, Triteleia, and Chincherinchee all offer a special interest in the landscape. Also, there is a whole group of fake lilies, including Calla Lilies, Zephyr Lilies, Rain Lilies and Aztec Lilies which (while lacking an original name) are unique in the garden.

So, be brave and try something a little different.

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