Spring is underway and the cheery spring bulbs are in full bloom. As they finish their season, we find we miss them, and quickly replace them with other flowers. The season for bulbs however, is not over yet. It’s time to plant some summer blooming bulbs that will give us as much joy as our spring bulb plants. Lilies, dahlias, begonias and many other summer bulbs are wonderful, easy to grow plants that flourish in the heat of summer. They fit right into any garden design, formal or informal, and they really shine in flower pots and window boxes.
Most summer bulbs are tropical or sub-tropical plants and are planted in early spring as the days get warmer. The first sprouts appear quickly and they display an impressive show of flowers and foliage from early summer until the first frost. Most need a sunny spot and are not bothered by summer heat.
When planting summer flowering bulbs in containers, be sure you are aware of the size of the grown plant. Many species, such as dahlias, glads and lilies can be purchased in a large range of sizes. Other bulbs such as elephant ears, cannas, and galtonia (summer hyacinth) can grow to be quite large and are impressive accent plants when planted in a large container.
I’ve always been partial to dahlias myself, and my collection grows annually through division of the bulbs in the fall, when they are lifted for winter storage. There are so many varieties and colors and I hate to lose any species, so I plant them along with the vegetables, and I always have an abundance of cut flowers in my home through the summer months.
Planting summer flowering bulbs is as simple as sticking the bulb, rhizome, or tuber into the ground. The bulbs are quite flexible and tolerant and will grow in almost any soil there is, although it should be well drained so the bulb does not start to rot. The spot for planting should mainly be in full sun, although a few of the summer flowering bulbs in containers, such as caladiums, enjoy partial shade.
Many summer flowering bulbs can be grown year round as house plants, and I’ll make note of these in the listing below.
All summer flowering bulbs should be lifted and wintered over in cold, northern climates.
Listed below are the most popular summer flowering bulbs to grow in containers:
Lilies make an elegant showing when grown in containers. They are spectacular as a specimum planting. Once potted, they grow quickly and need to be repotted every 3-4 years. Incorporate slow-release fertilizer into potting soil when planting lilies. If the foliage loses it’s green color, lilies need to be fertilized during the growing season. The soil should be kept slightly moist, but exposure to constant moisture likely cause them to rot. Plant three to five bulbs together in a clump for a sensational show, or fill big flower pots with lilies and summer annuals. Many varieties are fragrant.
Visit this site for extensive directions on how to grow lilies in containers.
Caladiums are tropical plants which come in a variety of colors and combinations. They are spectacular when grown in containers and make an excellent addition to any floral companion plantings.
The main colors are red, pink and white, with a large variety of color combinations. Caladiums are among the showiest plants when it comes to foliage. They can be grown outside in containers and wintered over for another season, or grown as a house plant year round.
For some great dwarf caladiums suitable for container gardens, visit the Caladium Bulb Company.
This beautiful plant grows from rizomes with a wide range of sizes and colors. They can be planted directly into your container outside or if you choose, you can choose to start your calla lilies indoors during late winter and transplant them outside in spring when danger of frost has passed.
Calla lilies enjoy being kept moist and will also benefit from a monthly dose of fertilizer throughout the growing season. If you grow calla lilies in containers, cease watering and move the plant to a dark area once the foliage has faded.
Calla lilies may be grown in the house as house plants. They are an outstanding flower to use in floral arrangements.
When most people think of Cannas, they picture red flowers. However, cannas have come a long way and are now available in a large array of colors and sizes. They are wonderful, showy plants in containers.
Cannas thrive in full sun and produce lush green and bronze foliage with vibrant and colorful blooms. These flowers are a hummingbird magnet and attract hummingbirds more than any other plant.
There are many dwarf species to chose from. The one pictured here is Chinese Coral.
From pom-poms, to cactus, to dish plate, the range of dahlia shapes and colors is truly amazing. No matter what your preference or color choices, you can find it in the dahlia species.
Beloved by gardeners the world over, there is always a bloom to suit the taste of any gardener. Smaller dahlias have been hybridized specially for window boxes.
The featured dahlia is called “Binky” a dwarf plant growing 24″ with 2″ blooms.
If you want to add a tropical look to your garden landscape, the elephant’s ear should be considered. These large leaved plants are perfect for backdrop plantings in containers. The smaller varieties are a great complimentory planting to caladiums.
Like all summer blooming bulbs, they must be wintered over in colder, northern climates.
Eucomis (Pineapple Lily):
These exotic plants look difficult, but they are in fact easy to grow. Plant in a wide, shallow pan, if possible since the wide base is more stable when the bulbs are fully grown.
When planting Eucomis, Make sure that the top of the bulb is just below soil’s surface. Keep well watered during the growing season (April to early October) and apply a balanced, liquid-feed fortnightly.
Containers can be brought into a frost-free place in October. You can allow the compost to dry out and the bulbs will become dormant. Remove all the dry and yellowed foliage. Begin watering again in late March or April. If you prefer, you can lift the bulbs and store them in the same manner as other summer flowering bulbs
Gloriosa lily (Flame Lily):
The Gloriosa Lily is one of the most unusual summer garden flowers. This tropical climbing vine,grown from a tuber, produces dramatic red flowers with a yellow center that blooms continuously from summer into fall.
These vines are real attention getters and can reach 6′ or more in one season. Brilliant 4-5″ blooms are excellent as cut flowers. Gloriosa lilies are excellent for growing in containers in any zone during the summer months.
Oxalis (Shamrock Plant):
The four leaf clover foliage along with flowers that bloom all season make Oxalis the perfect container plant. The plants bloom abundantly in spring and early summer and then occasionally for the rest of the growing season.
The foliage is attractive through the entire season. The plants grow from small bulbs and make a stunning display when these are planted thickly enough in a container.
Oxalis that are grown from bulbs require lots of water; they wilt if the soil is allowed to dry out. In the fall, pots of oxalis bulbs can be allowed to dry off by withholding water. The pots with their bulbs can then be stored in a cool, dark location for the winter.
Oxalis can also be moved inside for the winter and be grown as houseplants.
Tuberous begonias are well known for their beautiful flowers which come in a variety of colors and form. They are one of the most popular choices for window boxes and hanging baskets. Given an early start, they put on a glorious display all summer long.
For information on starting these spectacular plants visit Growing Tuberous Begonias.
These plants thrive where they receive bright light but little or no direct sun. They can be grown outside in containers or as houseplants. As with all summer bulbs, they myst be lifted and wintered over in colder climates.
This listing of summer blooming bulbs in containers is meant as a general guide bulbs that can be planted in containers. There are many other bulbs that bloom in the summer, but these seem to be the most popular among them for container gardening.