If you want to enjoy extra flowers in your garden or balcony next summer for months on end, plant some summer bulbs. Pick a nice spring day and turn planting into a fun outdoor activity. It’s a piece of cake!
Well-knoIwn or lesser known
Once the threat of night frost has passed, it is time to get started with summer bulbs. The planting period runs until late May. You can choose popular dahlias, gladioli (Gladiolus), lilies (Lilium) or tuberous begonias. You could also go for lesser-known varieties, such as Crocosmia (previously known as Montbretia), variegated pineapple lily (Eucomis), Tigridia or Liatris. Have you picked the perfect spot yet? Most summer bulbs need at least 6 hours of daily sun for rich flowering. So, check the packaging to see if your chosen bulbs prefer sun or (semi-)shade. Their demands on the soil are modest; it just needs to be sufficiently permeable to water.
Lower-growing varieties are best planted at the front of the border. Taller-growing ones thrive in a sheltered spot, against a wall or near a shrub, for example. Group similar colour hues together, or indeed, choose contrasting colours. Crocosmia, Dahlia and Liatris make a good team, as do lilies with gladioli and Canna lilies. Summer bulbs are also a perfect match with perennials and shrubs.
- Make holes in the ground with a shovel, preferably a small one. Check the package for the planting distance.
- Plant the bulbs twice as deep as they are tall. Exceptions to this rule are dahlias and begonias, which should be planted less deep (with a few inches of soil above them).
- Place the bulbs in the soil with the growing point (“nose”) facing up. For begonias, the concave side is the top. Don’t worry if you’re not sure; once they sprout they will grow upwards on their own.
- Fill the hole with soil and tamp it down lightly.
- Water the bulbs.
In a pot, you can plant bulbs a little closer together. Make sure there are holes in the bottom of the pot to allow excess water to drain away. Put some shards or clay pellets at the bottom of the pot with potting soil on top. Next, follow the steps above. The bulbs will grow out on their own; they need watering only during long periods of drought. Just a little more patience before you can enjoy the colourful results!
- You can plant summer bulbs in pots first and then in the open ground. In the event of frost, just put the pot in the shed.
- Summer bulbs will flower from June to November. Dahlia takes the biscuit in this regard: these flowers will bloom from July until the first frost.
- Biologically speaking, some summer bulbs are actually tubers, such as dahlia. To keep things simple, we call them all summer bulbs.