Simple Tips for Summer Bulbs

Basic information about those lesser-known summer bulbs and why we love them in the summer garden.

Dahlia Bulbs Iris, Tulips, Daffodils...just about everybody is familiar with these spring bulbs which are planted in fall to glorify early spring gardens. But there is a second category of bulbs which beginning gardeners may be less familiar with. These are the 'summer bulbs' which are planted in spring for summer bloom. These fabulous bulbs add brilliant color and interest to the garden, and we'd like to help you get acquainted with them.
Around February, your local nursery or garden center will set out their displays of summer bulbs. These should be planted after danger of first frost is over in your zone. The following is a brief list of the most popular summer bulbs which will be available either on-line or at your neighborhood nursery. If shopping in person, be sure the bulbs you choose are firm, not mushy.

Acidanthera
A fabulous little bulb which creates a big flower or cluster of flowers. Related to the gladiolus, Acidantheras blooms are white with a maroon center. Plant the bulbs 3"-4" deep in a sunny spot. They look very good when planted in clusters. They may require some staking, as they are tall. Because these bulbs have yet to become 'givens' in the garden, they are sure to provide a touch of surprise in your border. Simple and wonderful!

Tuberous Begonia
Turn your shade garden into a tropical paradise with these vibrantly colored bulbs. Rosette shaped blooms are large above deep green, thick foliage. Terrific for containers and hanging baskets. Plant the tubers only 1" deep. Do not plant in full, direct sunlight, or they will burn, and avoid getting the leaves wet. Some folks take to planting Tuberous Begonia bulbs like ducks to water and can't seem to get enough of them. Try a few this spring to see if you love these bulbs as other gardeners do.

Caladium
Unlike most bulbs, caladiums are planted for their foliage, not for flowers. Abundant, variegated, arrow-shaped leaves in numerous patterns of green, pink and white. Plant the tubers about 1" deep with the knob-like side facing up in the shade. Even a dark place in the garden becomes wonderfully bright when the foliage of the caladiums fills up the spaces. They can also handle dappled sunlight but avoid planting in full sun or the leaves will burn.

Canna Lily
Tall, striking and unforgettable, Canna lilies offer both brilliant blooms and unusual foliage. Leaves come in shades of burgundy, copper and green and flowers are hot shades of salmon, orange, apricot, yellow, red and white. Plant the rhizomes horizonally, some 3"-4" deep in full sun. Cannas require very nutritious soil and are prized at the back of the border because of their height.

Dahlia
Dahlias are truly stars in the garden. Heights of these plants vary from a couple of feet up to some 5-6 feet tall. Flower form is equally varied. Giant puffs, rayed stars...you name it. Pastel and primary colors in so many hues for you to enjoy. Dahlias mix wonderfully with other plants in the perennial border. Plant the bulbs so that the budding end (the crown) is just above the level of the soil. Dahlias like sun or partial sun and each bulb will produce many, many flowers.

Gladiolus
Gladiolus provide slender, brilliant spikes of color in the garden - and they come in literally EVERY color of the rainbow (including green). Because of their height, gladiolus require staking, though some recent dwarf varieties are sturdier. Plant Gladiolus corms about 4"-6" deep in full or partial sun. Because of the color palette, we like to use clusters of gladiolus bulbs to complement or accent the colors of other flowers in the border. Yellow gladiolus with purple solanum vine, apricot glads beside raspberry daylillies, red glads by white roses...let your imagination go wild with these super summer flower bulbs.

There are many more wondeful summer bulbs, but these will give you a great start. Whether you are looking for a burst of color, lofty height or pretty foliage, you are sure to find a summer bulb that works just right in that special spot in the garden. At Bulb & Bloom, bulb planting time is one of the happiest times for us. It's nice to know that we can enjoy the fun of this in both fall and spring!