Beauty. Vibrancy. Durability. From stunning lilies to exotic gladiolus, summer bulbs are as gorgeous as they are resilient, which makes them popular among beginners and green thumbs alike. By properly selecting and planting healthy summer bulbs, you?ll be rewarded by an abundance of bright flowers through early fall.
What are Bulbs?
Before you learn about selecting and planting bulbs, it?s necessary to explain what bulbs are. The term ?bulbs? refers to a large group of plants that store nutrients underground, but is often used to include plants such as corms, tubers and rhizomes. However, for purposes of simplicity, in this article the term ?bulbs? refers to bulbs, corms, tubers and rhizomes.
Wait for Warm Soil
The most important rule to remember is that summer bulbs must be planted in warm soil. For many areas in the U.S., this ranges from mid to late spring. However, since soil temperature greatly varies by location, ask employees at a local nursery when you should plant your bulbs. Next, after you know when you?ll plant them, walk around your yard to discover the perfect spot for your bulbs. The spot must receive at least five hours of sunlight per day, and must be moist and well-drained.
Pick the Perfect Flower
Now that you know when and where to plant summer bulbs, the fun of selecting flowers begins! Although there are many varieties of summer bulbs, here?s some information about the most popular types:
This plant gets its name from the Latin word ?gladius,? or sword, because of its sword-like stems. These plants have flower spikes that grow from corms, and boast a wide variety of colors.
These sturdy, cheerful flowers grow from tubers. Dahlias are popular because they?re available in many shapes, colors and sizes.
These bushy plants grow from rhizomes or tubers, and bloom rose-shaped, boldly-colored flowers. Begonias are hardy plants, and thrive in shady areas.
Lilies are the showstopper in any garden for their fragrance, brilliant color and large blooms. They are available in lots of colors, and are beloved by many gardeners.
Select & Plant the Best Bulbs
At your local nursery, carefully examine plants before you buy them. Make sure that the summer bulbs are solid, and not lightweight. Lift the plants and only purchase those that seem heavy for their size. Do not buy plants that have moldy bulbs. Although it?s recommended that you plant your bulbs almost immediately, they can also be stored in a cool, dry area. The following tips can help you plant some of the most common summer bulbs, but you need to follow specific instructions for other varieties.
- Begin by picking a spot with well-drained, rich soil that receives lots of sunshine.
- Plant the corms about six inches below the soil surface.
- These plants can reach two to six feet in height, so you might need to carefully tie their stems to stakes or posts.
- A spot with lots of sun and well-drained soil is perfect for dahlias.
- Start planting by covering their tubers with soil, and allowing the old flower stalk to stick out of the ground.
- Are you planting taller dahlias? Then leave about two feet in between each plant.
- For shorter dahlias, plant them about a half of a foot apart from each other.
- Begonias thrive in the shade, so plant them out of direct sunlight.
- Begonia tubers thrive in rich soil, and should be
- Plant the tubers about one half inch below the soil surface.
- Make sure to plant the tubers with the hollow side facing up.
- Lilies flourish well-drained soil.
- Plant these bulbs with their roots in the shade, and their flowers facing the sun.
- Allow four to six inches of soil to cover their bulbs.
- Make sure to leave six to ten inches in between bulbs.
- Throughout the summer, water the lilies so that their soil is moist.
TLC for Summer Bulbs
Although they?re easy to take care of, a few pointers can help ensure your bulbs? health and beauty. In late spring and throughout summer, water these plants often, prune their dead flowers and remove nearby weeds. These simple tips can dramatically increase your plants? appearance and resilience.
This spring, figure out what summer bulb varieties you?d like to grow. Visit a local nursery to ask about planting time, and purchase varieties that will flourish in your soil and sunlight conditions. Even if you?re not an avid gardener, you can easily grow and maintain summer bulbs. If you follow these suggestions, summer bulbs will brighten your yard from midsummer through early fall.
Jeff Hansen is a certified arborist and is president of Hansen?s Tree Service, a full-service tree and lawn care company near St. Louis, MO. Fully accredited by TCIA and ISA, Hansen?s strives to educate the public on the values of proper tree and lawn care. For more information about tree care or Hansen?s, visit www.hansenstree.com.