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Planting Summer Bulbs

When to Plant Summer Flowering Bulbs Outdoors.


Caladium leaves come speckled in red, white and pink.

Caladium leaves come speckled in red, white and pink.

Photo: © Marie Iannotti

What are Summer Bulbs?

Summer bulbs include: begonias, caladium, cannas, dahlias, gladiola, gloriosa lilies, elephant ears, liatris, nerines, oxalis, pineapple lilies, tuberose and tigridia. Some of these are tubers and corms, but for purposes of planting and storing, they tend to be grouped together under the term “Summer Bulbs”.

When to Plant Summer Bulbs

If it’s time for your tomatoes to go outdoors, it is also time to plant your summer bulbs.

Unless you live where the ground doesn’t freeze, you have to replant tender perennial bulbs every spring. Some gardeners dig and store their bulbs for the winter, others start with fresh bulbs every year. Either way, once the soil has dried out and warmed up to about 60° F (15.5° C) or more, it’s time to get summer bulbs in the ground.

Planting Summer Bulbs

Most bulbs need a well-draining site, to prevent molding and rotting. Amending the soil with compost or manure will help the bulbs grow, bloom and store energy.

In general, you plant bulbs about three times and deep as their diameter. The package the bulbs come in usually tells you the planting depth for your specific bulbs.
[3]Caring for Summer Bulbs

  • Make sure your bulbs are well watered, but allowed to dry out between waterings.

  • Keep the area weed free. Weeds will compete with your plants for nutrients and they often win.

  • If you intend to dig and store your bulbs over the winter or if bulbs are perennial in your area, you should give them some supplemental fertilizer every month or so during the growing season. Any balanced fertilizer, low in nitrogen is fine. If you are growing your bulbs as annuals, no feeding is necessary, but a mid-summer dose of fertilizer will give them a second wind.

Getting a Jump on the Growing Season for Summer Bulbs.

If you’d like to get a quick start on growing your summer bulbs, you can pot them up indoors a month or two before it’s time to transplant them outdoors. Either move them outside pot and all or transplant into the garden.

An even easier way to have summer bulbs blooming in your garden early is to purchase pre-grown bulbs.

Information provided by the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center. www.bulb.com.

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