Want to add some excitement and beauty to the garden? Try planting these bulbs now to get some great color from summer through fall. Many of these summer plants provide much-needed nourishment from pollinators and you can harvest these plants which will bring beauty to your indoors too. These bulbs can also do well in containers, so plant them on your patio or deck.
Here are 5 bulbs that can add exciting color this summer:
Caladium – Caladiums add color and drama to shady areas of your garden. The foliage on these plants come in color combinations that include red, pink, white, rose, and green but the leaves also come in a variety of shapes such as hearts and arrows, adding additional interest to your garden. Once the summer heat arrives these plants will grow like gangbusters, and you’ll be able to enjoy their beauty until the first frost arrives in your area. There are some new varieties that can also work in a sunny location. The bulb is disk-shaped with a rounded bottom and eyes/growth points on the top. Plant the bulbs 1 ½ to 2 inches under the soil in a location that is consistently moist. They are low maintenance with no need for constant fertilization. Just fertilize them when you plant them and that will be it for the season. The leaves are long-lasting and can be used in arrangements.
Calla Lily – Calla Lilies are mainly known for their elegant white trumpet-like flowers, but they also come in an array of jewel-toned colors that can provide your garden with many options. The foliage also has variegated patterns. They do not grow that tall, so they don’t need to be staked. They are great for use in a container or a border. The flowers last two to three weeks and are pollinator magnets. Their bulbs are called rhizomes and they look like a rock. The bottom of the rhizome is smooth. The other side has knobs on it and those are the growth points or eyes, which are planted up. Plant them 3 to 4 inches deep and if you are planting them in-ground, 6 inches apart. If you are planting them in containers, you can plant them 4 inches apart. Amend your soil with starter fertilizer and compost, then water them lightly. They are slow-growing at first. It can take up to 2 weeks to see any growth.
Canna – Cannas are beautiful tropical-looking flowers with large, lush leaves and brightly colored flowers. The flowers come in orange, pink, red, white, and yellow. They can be planted directly in the ground or grown in containers. Protect the plant from the wind as it can tear its leaves. They love being in the full sun and prefer the soil to be moist. The full sun helps bring out the best colors in the flowers and leaves. Cannas are also grown from rhizomes. Plant them 1-2 inches in the soil. This plant is a heavy feeder, so make sure you fertilize it often. Deadhead the flowers, so the energy goes back into the plant.
Dahlia – Dahlias are popular flowers that come in many different colors they can match anything you have in your garden. There are many different varieties and sizes of these flowers. For example, there are the Dinnerplate Dahlias which produce huge flowers, and Cactus Dahlias which have pointy petals, and Pom Pom Dahlias which are smaller. Dahlias are grown from tubers and from one tuber or clumps of tubers it is amazing how many flowers can be grown in one season. Each tuber has 3 parts, and all parts need to be intact in order for you to grow a plant. The tubers will multiple during the growing season. The parts are:
- Body – contains the energy and nutrients for the plant
- Neck – skinny part of the tuber that connects the body to the eye
- Eye – growth point of the plant
Dahlias like to be in the full sun for at least 6-8 hours minimum in well-drained soil. They will not grow in wet or dry soil. Plant the tubers 4-6 inches deep and 12 to 18 inches apart. It is best to amend your soil with compost and starter fertilizer when planting. Plant the tubers with the eye facing up. Water them once. The next time you will water them is when you see growth and then consistently throughout the growing season. When planting your dahlias also put stakes in the ground. This will allow you to not disturb the flowers or injury the root system later on, especially when you are growing the taller dahlias. As they grow try pinching the plant when it is 12 -18 inches tall. Cut the leading stem down 3 to 4 inches, which causes the plant to be more productive. When you cut your dahlia flowers for arrangements, remember that the flower does not open up any further once you cut it, so make sure the flower has fully bloomed.
Gladiolus – There are many different varieties of Gladiolus that bloom at different times, so if you want gladiolus all season long, pick different varieties to plant or plant them every two weeks for continuous blooms. Gladiolus bulbs are grown from corms. Corms will range in size with some being small, and others quite large. These bulbs will multiple by the end of the season. You can split some at the end of the season so that next year you will have two corms. These corms are like flat disks. On one side you can see the roots and the other side has a growth point. If there is no growth, the corm does have a point, so it is fairly easy to tell which side to plant up. Gladiolus want to be planted in a location that gets 6-8 hours of sun. Similar to dahlias, they need the same type of soil and watering. They will also need a staking system. Plant them 6 to 10 inches apart and 2 to 6 inches deep. If you have bigger corms plant them a little deeper. The best time to harvest them is when the bottom 3 flowers have bloomed. The top ones will bloom when they are put in water. Leave the bottom leaves on the plant after cutting as they give the bulb energy for next year.
Let us know if you grow any of these pretty plants!