A number of summer flowering bulbs have been available for years but too few of us grow them. They have many distinct uses but especially are they useful to those who are just starting a garden and want to be sure of bloom this coming summer.
Some bulbs have to be started indoors in April to bloom before fall; others can be set out after frost is past. They all have to be dug and taken indoors before freezing weather or they will be killed. That is the one disagreeable feature about these otherwise alluring summer bloomers.
Achimenes are old-fashioned, but still good. They are offered in a wide range of colors from white to pink, red, lavender, blue and purple. The tiny bulbs should be started in a pan or tray of light soil in April so they will be sizable by mid May.
Grow them either in pots, window boxes or right in the ground. They need a little shade. Tuberous begonias can be treated the same way. Although sometimes advertised as new, the hanging types are old timers that have been overlooked far too long. Try them above a stone wall as well as in hanging baskets. And try some of the small flowered multiflora hybrids.
Have You Tried Growing Callas Outdoors in Summer?
Set Calla lilies in the garden after it warms up. White, yellow or pink flowered varieties are available.
The fairy lilies or zephyranthes, especially the pink one, are often seen in pots. Try putting them right in the ground. The white one may be hardy with a little protection. They bloom off and on all summer.
The shell flower or Tigridia is a brilliant flower in orange, yellow, pink and red. Although each flower only lasts a day there is always another waiting to open.
Montbretias resemble gladiolus but are smaller and daintier. The orange, yellow, or orange-red flowers add a different color note to the garden. They may be hardy if well mulched in less severe climates. They like plenty of soil moisture during summer. Try leaving a few outdoors next winter.
Tuberoses, both single and double-flowered, perfume the garden as few other plants can. New bulbs always flower, but they may not the second season. If they do not bloom, dig before frost and put in cans or pots in a sunny window. They may bloom before Christmas.
Some folks like to use either pink or yellow-flowered oxalis as an all summer flowering border for flower beds. In a year or two they will have multiplied so that all the neighborhood will have them.
Cannas are rather coarse foliaged plants for many gardens, but they do grow and bloom all summer. There are some fine named varieties available that are an improvement on the old ones. The green or bronze leaves are in demand since they are similar to the ti leaves from Hawaii.
The gloriosa lily, whether a pot plant or in the ground, is most unusual. Most folks grow them in eight or ten-inch pots and just put the pots in the cellar for the winter. Another interesting old timer is the Jacobean lily, sprekelia.
By now, almost everyone has tried some of the hundred or so varieties of fancy leaf caladiums. They brighten any shady spot. Start them now (April) in peat as you would tuberous begonias. If in doubt as to top and bottom, put them on their sides.
And if you want adventure, start a collection of the different spider lilies. They are known as Ismene but properly are called Hymenocallis.
Another fascinating genus is Crinum lily. One or two of these may be hardy in your area. Otherwise, they can be used as pot or tub plants for summer and winter stored in the basement.