Elementary Summer Bulbs

A revamped website offers a summer bulb primer just in time for you to add some sass, color and class to your summer garden.

| May 21, 2010

Summer is gardening’s crowded hour. So many perennials and annuals thrive in that season’s sun and heat that it can be easy to overlook the role that flower bulbs play.  Most gardeners are familiar with tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other bulbs that dominate the spring landscape. But there is another class of bulbs entirely comprised of summer bloomers. These include some of the most exotic flowers found in any garden, and spring is the time to plan and plant them.

Summer bulbs include Oriental lilies, gloriosa and a wide range of dahlias that are literally flower factories. 

“You might expect such stellar plants to be hard to grow,” says Sally Ferguson of the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center (NFBIC) in Danby, Vermont.  “The surprise is that they’re not at all tricky.”

As an introduction to these savory summer flowers, the NFBIC has created a new Summer Bulb Primer on its informational website. The Primer is a photo-filled, information-packed resource that profiles the top 10 bulbs for the summer garden that are available from garden retailers as either DIY bulbs or as “ready-to-go” pre-grown potted bedding plants. 

The primer includes such exotic garden treats as climbing gloriosa vines, tufted tropical-looking pineapple lilies (Eucomis), multitudes of tall and short leafy cannas, new colorful callas (Zantedeschia) with metallic-spotted leaves, flamboyant fragrant lilies, bountifully- blooming begonias, big-leaved elephant ears, oodles of oxalis and caladiums, and dahlias of all types and coloration.  All are suited to garden beds and summer containers.

Most summer bulbs are tender by nature and cannot survive cold winters without protection.  Depending on where you garden, summer blooming bulbs can be grown as annuals or perennials – or something in between.  In warmer USDA zones, summer bulbs in the garden will readily come back as perennial performers. At season’s end in cooler areas, gardeners can choose to save summer bulbs for growing again in future seasons. Where winter exposure is an issue, lift and store bulbs indoors overwinter.  Even easier, bulbs grown in containers can be stored over-winter “as is” (right in their pots) in a protected area. Just cease watering until it’s time for start-up next season.

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