Gardening can be like a love affair.
And what better way to express your love than with more flowers? Summer flowering bulbs are a fantastic way to add more blooms to the late summer months. Plus, they come back year after year for lots of flower power. Asian lilies, Japanese anemone, Persian buttercups, Calla lilies, begonias, gladiolas and the showy dahlias are all considered summer flowering bulbs.
The great thing about planting with bulbs is that you don’t need to add any compost or other natural fertilizers when you first plant them. The bulb itself provides all the nutrients the plant needs to put on a memorable display in your yard. When you do go to buy bulbs at your local garden centre, keep in mind that bulbs can deteriorate if they sit out too long on store shelves. Aim to buy bulbs as soon as they are in store, and plant them shortly afterward in your garden. Look for signs of decay such as sponginess, mould and dried out areas. Healthy bulbs should be fleshy and have some weight to them, just like when you choose ginger root for cooking from the grocery store.
Planting in groups is a great way to get lots of impact with colour. Gardens look best when you plant in odd numbers, so think of planting in groups of 3 or 5. Cally lilies make a statement when they are planted in clusters. Imagine groups of 3 or 5 Calla lilies planted in a row at the front edge of one of your beds. That’s a surefire way to make a powerful visual statement.
Timing is key in deciding which bulbs to plant. Would you like your bulbs to bloom all at once for sudden impact? Or would you rather have a succession of colour unfurl as the summer months turn to fall? Also consider the other flower shrubs and perennials you may already have in your garden. A late blooming hydrangea shrub may go dazzlingly with drifts of anemone surrounding them.
How do you plant these bulbs, you ask? Well, the rule of thumb is to plant the bulbs as deep as four times their height. So a bulb that is one inch tall should be planted four inches under the surface of the soil. Most bulbs also like lots of sunshine, so choose a spot that gets the coveted 360 degrees of light, so they grow nice and straight.
Plant them in spring. Once the threat of frost has passed, it’s time to plant your summer flowering bulbs. You would do this at the same time as your spring garden clean-up, or when you prune your roses. This gives the bulbs time to establish some roots during the cooler spring months. Then, come late summer, their showy flowers will add colourful interest to your garden.
All bulbs need to be placed in well-drained soil. If you have areas of your yard that are a sandy, this is the perfect soil mixture. You can also add sand to the planting hole to help with drainage around the bulbs’ roots.
Once all the flowers have made a spectacle, some will need to be dug up and stored for winter. Let the leaves and stalks turn yellow, so you know that the plant’s leafy energy has gone back into the bulb. Dig them out, trim the stalks, brush them off and store in a cool dry place away from car exhaust. Dahlias, Calla lilies and begonias should get stored in a cool area, away from moisture before the first frost. For areas where winters are milder, a good three-inch layer of mulch over the bulbs is often beneficial.