Beds and Borders… Bulbs are superb for filling gaps in beds and borders; tuck them between herbaceous perennials and evergreen grasses in drifts of single species to blend with the planting scheme or a range of varieties to create dramatic splashes of colour. Do remember to mark where you have planted them; it is amazingly easy to forget where they are! Gladioli are ideal for backs of borders flowering at 60 – 120cm they are ideal as a backdrop to other plants and bulbs.
Pots and Containers… Summer flowering bulbs look fabulous in pots; plant two or three different types in layers to create an ever-changing display or pack with the same variety for a simple yet spectacular statement. Plant the tallest, latest flowering bulbs at the bottom, ensuring they are not touching, and cover with compost and a handful of grit so the tips just show. Position the next layer between the tips, and repeat, ending with a layer of compost twice the depth of the top bulbs. Many bulbs are suitable for growing in pots, shorter flowering Dahlias and pot Lilies are particularly good performers. Make sure your container has adequate drainage by adding crocks (pieces of broken pot) or large gravel under the compost. Why not plant a summer flowering hanging basket using hanging “pendula” Begonias which can be grown from corms.
Bees and Butterflies… Planting summer flowering bulbs is a great way of attracting bees, butterflies and pollinating insects into your garden. Open centred flower forms of Dahlia are particularly attractive to pollinating insects as are Alliums and Liatris spicata (Blazing Star). There are also varieties within our “Cottage Garden” range which are great for attracting pollinating insects into your garden – choose Alcea rosea (Hollyhock), Gypsophila, Papaver orientale or Paeonia to name but a few.
Fragrance… There are lots of summer bulbs which can be used to add fragrance to your garden. Lilies are well known for their fragrance with trumpet varieties such as “Regale” and Oriental lilies such as “Casa Blanca” and “Stargazer” being particularly scented. There are also now several fragrant Begonia available – look out for the “Odorata” types which are also great for hanging baskets. Gladiolus callianthus (Acidanthera) are also scented as are Freesias, Polianthes, Leucocoryne, Amaryllis belladonna and Hymenocallis festalis. Cosmos atrosanguineus is an interesting variety with its burgundy blooms having a distinct chocolate aroma.
Cut Flowers… Several kinds of summer flowering bulbs are suitable for use as cut flowers. Highly recommended for this purpose are gladioli, cactus, pompon and decorative flowered dahlia and lilies. You could even create a “cutting garden” but try to choose a sheltered spot for this and plant the bulbs a bit closer together than usual so they support each other during their growth. Try to choose bulbs with different flowering periods so that you have fresh flowers in your home all summer.
Planting Summer Flowering Bulbs…
When… Summer flowering bulbs, corms and tubers can be planted in the spring as soon as the risk of frost has passed until the end of May.
How… Follow the instructions on the back of the packs but generally plant bulbs, corms and tubers twice as deep as the bulb is tall although Begonias and Dahlias should be planted just under the soil surface. Gladiolus should be planted about 12cm apart, Begonia 25cm apart, lilies 30cm and dahlia up to 40cm apart. Any soil type is suitable as long as it is well drained. In containers use a good general purpose or potting compost.
Watering… Summer flowering bulbs will need a lot of extra water immediately after planting in order to quickly develop their roots. During a dry spring period, water frequently and take particular care with pots and containers as these can quickly dry out in warm weather. Remove any faded flowers as required.