For simply spectacular flowers, it’s hard to beat summer bulbs! Blooming for months in summer, they add dramatic colour to borders, and they often make fantastic cut flowers too. Here are four of our favourite summer bulbs to plant now.
With their tall spires of extravagant blooms in a sensational range of colours from soft pastels to vibrant reds and yellows, gladioli are perfect for adding height and vertical accents to borders. They’re also much in demand for flower arrangements. In mild areas of the country, the bulbs can be mulched and left in the ground over winter and will come back again in spring. Start gladiolus bulbs off indoors in pots in early spring, or plant them directly outdoors in late spring. They need a well-drained soil in full sun, so when planting in pots, mix grit in with the compost to improve drainage.
Dahlias come in an incredibly wide range of shapes, sizes and colours, from neat round pompom flowers to huge dinnerplate dahlias. They flower for months in summer and autumn if regularly deadheaded and make gorgeous cut flowers. Start the tubers off indoors in pots filled with moist multipurpose compost. Place the pots in a warm place and don’t water again until the shoots appear. Once the shoots have produced a few pairs of leaves, pinch out the growing tips to produce bushy plants. If the tubers produce more than 5 stems each, remove the extra shoots to focus the plant’s energy on developing into a strong plant. Plant out in a sunny spot once all risk of frost is past.
From fabulously scented Oriental lilies to graceful tiger lilies, these glamorous beauties add a touch of style and pizzazz to pots and borders. Give them plenty of sunshine and regular food and water, and they’ll reward you with a simply stunning display. Plant lily bulbs directly outdoors any time between autumn and spring, in well-drained soil with plenty of garden compost added to improve drainage. Oriental lilies need acidic soil, or ericaceous compost if planted in pots. Other bulbs will do fine in neutral or alkaline soil, or multipurpose compost in pots. If your soil is heavy clay, it’s best to plant your lily bulbs in pots.
Tuberous begonias are fantastic for summer pots and hanging baskets, flowering for months and producing a sensational display of big, bold, colourful flowers. They’re easy to grow from tubers and very low-maintenance. Plant indoors in spring in pots filled with multipurpose compost. Begonia tubers are saucer-shaped and should be planted with the concave side facing upwards. Water the pots and place them somewhere warm. As the plants grow, pot them on into larger pots. Harden them off and plant outside once all risk of frost is over.
Now’s the perfect time to plant summer bulbs for a garden filled with months of sensational colour!