Summer Blooming Bulbs

Lily Oriental

Is it Spring yet?  Almost.  March 19th is the last day of winter.  Ever notice how the word winter sounds so cold and dark yet one day later its spring and everything is joyous and light?  Funny how that works.  Well, spring is certainly going to arrive the third week of March so get ready for it.

A great way to get a jump start on this season of growth is to plant summer blooming bulbs.  It may seem a long ways away to summer but as gardeners we are all itching to get out and get dirty so what better way than to dig holes in the fresh earth?  Or at least plan where we’re going to dig holes.  Some of the hardier bulbs like lilies can be planted now and begonias can be started indoors but hold off until the ground warms up for gladioli, cannas and other more tender types.

I love bulbs.  I love the dahlias and the way they bloom all through the summer until a hard frost finally beats them back in fall.  Lots of colours, different heights, some amazing flower sizes and configurations.  I leave my dahlias in the ground all year and they keep coming back bold and beautiful.  Some people dig them up every fall but you really don’t have to unless you have a special one that you want to make sure survives.  Even then it could very well rot in your basement.  So live dangerously, leave them in the ground.

I love lilies.  I love all lilies however I lean towards anything fragrant so the Orientals are the best in that department and wow, what a cut flower.  You only need one stem in a vase but of course more is nice!  Full sun and well drained soil are a must.  Deer are not.  So if you have unprotected gardens then don’t plant lilies.

I love liatris.  Tall purple spikes planted en-masse makes a gorgeous impact.  I have sweeps of them along the top of a bank in my yard along with acidanthera, another fine bulb.

I love Calla Lilies.  Perfect as a cut flower and very long lasting.  The fancier hybrids are not so hardy sometimes but usually do well in a container.  Mine do superbly under the eaves in my front bed and always draw comments from visitors.  Perhaps the lack of moisture is the reason.

I love the odd and unusual like Eucomis (Pineapple Lily).  Slow to start but when it does flower later in the season it’s a conversation piece as it looks like a pineapple (hence the name).  Put a few in a pot by themselves.

The key to planting most of these fantastic bulbs is to plant lots!  Take lilies for example. Don’t just put three in a hole, it really won’t give you the impact you’re looking for and you won’t be inclined to cut any for a vase inside.  Plant drifts of them, not straight lines, and plant lots.  You can get away with planting one dahlia tuber since it grows into a large bushy plant but gladioli and liatris should be massed.

Peruse the bulb racks at the nursery now for the best selection and start digging those holes. We may still be in the cold and dark of winter but just around the corner lurks joyous and light!

Shirley Eppler

March 2008