Planting Summer-Flowering Bulbs


Have you ever wanted your flower beds to have seasonal color, interesting texture or flourishing foliage that lasts well into autumn? By planting summer-flowering bulbs in spring, you can bring some much needed color to your yard during the sizzling summer season. Give your garden a mid-summer boost of color by following these simple steps.


When to Plant

Since summer-flowering bulbs require soft soil and plenty of sunlight, you should only plant summer bulbs when the danger of frost has passed. Because most summer bulbs originate in sub-tropical areas, summer bulbs have a low tolerance for cold weather conditions. For those who live in colder climates (zones 2-6), it can be difficult to determine when to plant your summer bulbs due to sporadic snowfall. To ensure that your bulbs grow successfully outdoors, plant them when the temperature remains above 60° F for at least 10 days straight.


How to Plant

Step 1. Choose Your Site
Before you choose your gardening site, check the labels of your chosen bulbs to determine where to plant them. Since hardy bulbs and tender bulbs require different amounts of sunlight, you must be selective when choosing your planting place. After you've established how much sunlight your bulbs will need, try to find an area in your yard that will provide enough sunlight as well as good drainage. Ideal places include slopes, berms, raised beds and any other site where water can drain freely.

Step 2. Prep the Soil
Begin preparing your site's soil by turning it over to a depth of 18 inches with a garden spade. Then, loosen the soil with a garden cultivator to aerate the soil. Once your soil is well aerated, use a bow rake to incorporate equal parts sphagnum peat moss, perlite and vermiculite into the topsoil; this combination of nutrients will improve the overall drainage and water-holding capacity of your soil so your summer bulbs will bloom beautifully all summer long.

Step 3. Place & Plant
When you're ready to plant your bulbs, make sure that you plant them at the correct depth. To determine the proper planting depth, you should consult your bulbs' packaging. However, if you are not provided with an exact depth, simply plant each bulb at a depth equal to two or three times its diameter. After you've settled the planting depth for all of your bulb varieties, use a bulb planter to place and plant your bulbs with the pointed ends up. Then, cover the bulbs with topsoil, a 2 inch layer of organic compost and a sprinkling of blood meal.

Step 4. General Maintenance
Once your bulbs have been suitably situated, you can encourage early rooting by watering them. Moisten the soil with a couple inches of water so the soil is damp but not saturated. Continue to water the bulbs with about an inch of water each week. As the bulbs begin to bud, surround your sprouts with a layer of fertilizer to accelerate the growing process. Generally, one application of fertilizer is enough to provide your bulbs with enough nutrients to produce healthy foliage and longer-lasting blooms.



Summer Bulb Varieties

Now that you know the basics to bulb planting, fill your garden with some of these popular summer-blooming bulbs.



Dahlia
This versatile flower provides more landscaping options than any other summer-flowering bulb. Since dahlias are available in a variety of sizes, shapes, forms and colors, they can add a burst of color to everything from window boxes to lawn borders. Although the dahlia thrives in any fertile soil with partial to full sunlight, it requires more water and fertilizer than other summer bulbs do. As the plant grows, a bi-weekly watering and monthly feeding will sustain large blooms so they'll last well until the first frost.

Gladiolus
Create luscious, long-lasting flower bouquets by growing gladiolus in your garden this summer. Each gladiolus bulb produces beautiful stalks that boast several large blooms that open in succession over the course of several weeks. With full sun and moist but well-drained soil, gladiolus can grow up to 6 feet tall. Available in a wide range of colors, from soft pastels to bright, bold blooms, gladiolus will add captivating color to your garden and to fresh flower arrangements.

Oriental Lily
Transform your garden with the exotic look and heavenly fragrance of oriental lilies. When in bloom, this stunning beauty bears large and dramatic star-shaped petals in mixed shades of white, yellow, red and/or pink. Often reaching 5 to 7 feet in height, oriental lilies need to be staked when their shoots are at least 2 feet in height so the bloom doesn't snap off prematurely. Although oriental lilies are the most temperamental bulbs to grow, they are well worth the effort.

Caladium
This popular plant features heart-shaped leaves that can grow 6 to 12 inches long and reach a height of 1 to 2 feet. Each leave is different, displaying unique patterned combinations of white, pink, rose and green hues. Unlike most summer-flowering bulbs, caladium bulbs perform well with little to no sunlight. Simply place caladium bulbs in shady and bare areas of your yard, and watch as the bright leaves highlight your landscape with bold texture and remarkable foliage.